Golf Tips,Tee-to-Green: A putting technique that actually works

May 19, 2017; Irving, TX, USA; Jordan Spieth putts on the 2nd green during the second round of the AT&T Byron Nelson golf tournament at TPC Four Seasons Resort - Las Colinas. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports
May 19, 2017; Irving, TX, USA; Jordan Spieth putts on the 2nd green during the second round of the AT&T Byron Nelson golf tournament at TPC Four Seasons Resort - Las Colinas. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports /

Golf Tips, Tee-to-Green focuses this week on the 6-18 Rule to take putting strokes off your scorecard.

Golf Tips, Tee-to-Green is my weekly Friday golf tips column that will zero in on one aspect of the game and help you trim a few strokes off your card. This week I’m focusing on the place where you can get the most bang for your buck, the putting surface.

Have you struggled on the greens lately?  Do you feel like you are stroking the ball well, but just not sinking your putts? Well, odds are you are simply not able to actually hit the ball on the line you told yourself you wanted to hit it on.  Here I am going to explain a putting technique that actually works to minimize your margin of error when putting the ball off line.

The technique is something I like to call the “6-18 Rule” and I have used it for a few years now.  Too often, recreational golfers think putting is completely mechanic-driven. However, that is not the case.  Putting is simply a matter of reading the green, picking a line, and hitting the ball on that line.  Obviously there is more that goes into it, but that is pretty much all putting is.

Think about this . . . if you could pick the right line and amount of break in a putt every single time and roll the ball on that line, why would your grip or posture matter?  This rule is able to take all of those thoughts out of play and introduce two simple focuses when putting.

That is why I am here to let you in on something that actually works.  It is something I have actually done and still, to this day, do.  This technique completely minimizes the margin of error when stroking the ball off line and allows you to truly commit to the putt you are about to attempt.

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Step 1 in the “6-18 Rule”

Draw an imaginary straight line from the hole back to your ball.  Then on that line pick a spot about six inches away from your ball.  This is going be known as the 6.  Locating the 6 allows you to commit to which side of that mark you are going to hit your putt on.  You should never roll the ball over the 6 (unless it is a rather flat and/or straight putt). So, this allows you to at least give yourself a chance on almost every put.

For example, if you have a left-to-right breaking putt, you would choose to start the ball of the left of the 6.  If you did not have that spot in mind, there is a chance you would hit it on the right side, therefor never giving yourself a chance to actually sink the putt.

Step 2 in the “6-18 Rule” 

The step is the18. Now this one is fairly simple and common.  However, I conduct this procedure a bit differently.  I have heard so many times, “pick a spot and try to hit the ball over it.” Well, that is essentially the18.

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Once you read the green and find the break of your putt, you can image the path the ball will travel to get there. The 18 is a spot that is on that line, but 18 inches away from your ball, also known as a foot and a half.  This is a bit farther than most people would use as an aim-point but trust me, here it is just about perfect when combined with the first part (the 6).  So you want to roll the ball around the correct side of the 6 as well as make sure it rolls over the 18.

This helps you when starting your ball online and keeping it online, as well as minimizing your mistakes. However, you do need to give it your best effort when reading the green.  Too often, golfers overthink the greens and give the hole away right off the club.  Below is a short tip on how to read those greens.  Don’t let them fool you!

To try to find the line and break of the green, I recommended doing it in reverse.  Imagine the ball coming out of the hole first and coming back to you.

Why should you do this? Well, this is very IMPORTANT.  A break closer to the hole effects the ball a whole lot more than a break closer to the ball. This is most likely due to the speed of the ball at the two points in the roll.  The ball is moving faster off the club and slower near the hole.

Think about watching a golf tournament, where you often hear, “that had some late break on it near the hole.” You never really hear, “wow that had some early break on it.” That is because of the importance of the break near the hole. Focus on that.

Next: Waggles from Ben Hogan to Michelle Wie

Stay tuned for the next installment of my Golf Tips, Tee-to-Green column.  Give the above a couple tries and remember, “The road to success is always under construction.” – Arnold Palmer