Whenever you see a pro hole a putt of 20 feet or over, you can be sure that, regardless of the player's skill, luck also played a considerable role in the proceedings. Even the finest putter doesn't expect to have the accuracy to hole his long ones, but he knows that a few are bound to drop if he consistently gets the ball around the cup. This is at the back of his mind, of course, but what he is truly concentrating on in playing an approach putt is hitting the ball the correct distance; then, if his aim is a little off, he will still leave himself with a relatively short second putt and so avoid that greatest of spirit-breakers and round-ruiners, the three-putt green.
For several seasons now I have used one set method—and with very encouraging results—of gauging the distance on my long and medium-length putts. I walk to a point on the line of my putt that is halfway between my ball and the hole, say 15 feet from the hole on a 30-footer. Standing at that halfway point, I can form a fairly accurate estimate of how hard I would have to hit the ball from there to get it hole high. I double that "strength estimate," and then I know about how hard I must hit my long one. This halfway reading method is a lot sounder, I find, than trying to assess your distance in one big gulp.
from JACK BURKE JR., Kiamesha Lake, N.Y.
NEXT WEEK: RAY GAFFORD ON TRAJECTORY