Short-putt phobia - the #1 cause of missed putts!

Never up, never in!  It can't go in if it doesn't get there!  You can't leave a short putt short!

We've all heard these putting truisms, and most of us probably accepted them as conventional wisdom. But once again, conventional wisdom doesn't square up with good science. The fact is, the emphasis on never leaving a putt short is the #1 cause of missed putts!


Because most golfers putt with too much speed!

Science tells us that every extra inch of speed beyond the center of the hole shrinks the effective "capture size" of the hole by 1/8 of an inch. There is a lengthy explanation of this bit of physics, but it's pretty solid math that factors in the weight of the ball, the distance from the front to the back of the hole, and the fact that that distance - and the time available for 50+% of the ball to fall into the hole - reduces quickly with every fraction of an inch the ball is off dead-center entry.

If you watched the Masters, you probably noticed how many putts, even at the pro level, lipped out or slipped past the hole, generally rolling another 3-4 feet past the hole. When you're trying to make a downhill breaking putt on a firm green, even a 3-foot putt has a slim chance of entering the hole precisely at the center.

This is why we're beginning to see more "enlightened pros" who are focusing first and foremost on their putting speed - putting as precisely as possible to the hole. They have figured out that a ball that dies at the hole optimizes a hole capture size of nearly 6 inches! And they have also learned that a long-standing recommendation to putt about 18" past the hole actually shrinks the hole capture size to less than 4 inches. Maybe with a nice, straight putt, this won't matter to many golfers, but if there's any break, it's foolish not to try to optimize the capture size factor by making a die putt.

This may seem a radical revelation to you, but I encourage you to do a little science with your own putting. Keep track of your next 200 putts. Putt half of them with the conventional approach, and putt half of them with die putts. I think you'll be surprised to learn that a short putt is no worse at all than a missed putt and that you'll actually be missing fewer putts. You’ll make more putts, and you'll definitely reduce the number of 3-putts, because even if your die-putt is short, it will be very close to the hole.

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