If you were to follow a professional player’s caddie on any pretournament practice round, you would see the caddie rolling golf balls by hand to different places on the green for every hole on the golf course. The caddie is learning the necessary line and pace for the most probable hole locations during the tournament. The tournament committee
cuts the holes in different places on the green every day of the tournament, and this exercise allows the caddie to help the player determine the line and pace of the putt.
Hand-putting is an effective method for learning to read greens. To hand-putt, bend down at various places on the practice green and roll the ball with your hand to different holes (figure 1.9). Notice how the ball tracks differently to the hole when you change speed and direction (pace and line).
Next, from one position and using one hole, hand-putt the ball, changing the pace and line to determine which target line and pace offers the best chance for getting the ball into the hole. Select a hole that provides a moderate amount of break between you and the hole. You should be at least 10 feet from the hole. Hand-putt 10 balls.
Repeat the drill, hand-putting so the ball just drops into the hole. When you successfully handputt the ball into the hole, select a new hole.
To Decrease Difficulty
• Hand-putt from a distance of 5 feet (1.5 meters) or less.
• Hand-putt on a flat surface, concentrating only on the pace of the putt.
To Increase Difficulty
• Use a hole with a large amount of break between you and the ball.
• Select a hole that has both a right-to-left break and left-to-right break as the ball approaches the hole.
• Use a putter instead of your hand.
• Set up croquet hoops on the putting green and play croquet using a golf ball and a putter.
• Putt with sufficient pace so that the ball either drops into the hole or stops within 3 feet of the hole.
• You should be able to see which direction the ball breaks as it approaches the hole.
Score Your Success
Based on the second part of the drill, give yourself 1 point if the ball stops within 2 feet of the hole and 3 points if the ball is holed.