Archives for the ‘Putting’ Category

Off-center putting

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Golden Tee off-center puttingEvery now and then while playing Golden Tee Live, I’ll come across a situation on the green where the hole doesn’t exactly match up in a straight line with my putter. Consequently, if I don’t notice this and simply putt based on the slope of the green, I might miss a putt that otherwise would have been made. I don’t know if this feature was meant to be built into Golden Tee, but I do notice it sometimes.

The putting tip here is to pay attention not only to the slope of the green, but where exactly the hole is positioned in-line with your putter. For straight putts, always follow through directly at the hole on your screen to ensure more successful putts! For sloped putts, you may want to play more or less break depending on the alignment also.

Curving putts with your follow through

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On my home edition, I have an older trackball, and it works for me.  I don’t lose any distance, but it can affect the break on my putts vs. a smoother trackball.

What I observe sometimes is that when I miss putts on the low side, it’s due to my hand action on the follow through, which tries to curve the ball towards the hole.  In other words, if a putt breaks left, I’ll hit the trackball out right but have a bit of a left-curving follow-through on the putt since I know I want the ball to break left.  This can inadvertently lead to mishits on putts where I don’t actually hit it as far right as I intended.  So while there is no actual curving action, I have subconsciously hit the putt farther left than intended.

To compensate, and what I believe is the behavior to imitate, you should focus on a straight follow-through with your putts.  Extend your hand forward on the line where you want the ball to start, and try not to curve your hand in towards the hole on your putt.

I’m sure this is not an issue with most players, but it’s something I noticed in my game that I’ve been trying to correct, so I wanted to share!

Shortest possible putt?

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Most of us have ended up at 5 inches to the hole, where it seemingly hangs on the edge of the cup.  But there are a few who have seen a 4-inch leave, as evidenced below!
4 inch putt

Managing hard left-breaking putts

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Many new and amateur players still lose a lot of strokes on hard left-breaking putts, especially right-handed palm putters.  I used to be the same way, and it really got in my head.  If I had a 40-foot left 9 putt, I was pessimistic before I even attempted it, because I knew I’d miss it on the low side, not being able to get it out far enough.

So why does that seem to happen to so many of us?  For right-handers, it’s naturally easier to hit across your body — that’s why right-breaking putts feel more natural.  For left-breakers, you have to move your whole body left and try to square up to hit towards 3 — it’s just more uncomfortable.

But the biggest reason you miss these putts to the left is the anatomy of the trackball.  A while back I wrote how shots out to 3 may not be read properly by the machine, and some tips to overcome that.  Because of how the rollers are structured, you may feel the ball “jump” or not come off the club fast and smooth, causing you to miss left.

So while you are trying to ram the ball harder to keep velocity, you may actually be causing the machine to read the trajectory improperly.  A smoother stroke is likely to be read more accurately, but it also won’t feel right.

Instead, why not try thumb-putting with these looks?  That’s been my solution, and I’ve saved a lot of strokes in the process.  Thumb putting almost guarantees a nice, smooth stroke that will be read accurately, and you can also get plenty of velocity on the putt with just a nice firm release out to 3.  Yes, this will take some practice, and you might drop a couple strokes up front while you are learning just how much to the right to hit these thumb shots, but over time you will come out ahead!

So if these long, left-breaking putts are the bane of your short game, consider thumb-putting instead.  It will feel good to finally hit firm shots that stay out to the right far enough to drop into the hole!

Max length putt

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Some greens in Golden Tee are so large that you can leave yourself with a literally unmakeable putt.  So what is the cutoff distance?  I’ve found that it’s right about 145 feet.  Anything longer, and you cannot get the ball to the hole, no matter how hard you hit it.  Keep this in mind if you’re trying to reach the green from a lengthy distance — you’re better off leaving yourself a chip so that you actually have some chance of making it!

Note that some balls (such as Streaks) do putt a bit farther, extending this distance.  Also note that my test above was on a flat green.  For downhill putts, you can also extend the max distance.  And of course for uphill putts, you won’t be able to hit as far.

Finally, some players are just able to hammer the trackball harder than others, which may get you a few extra feet!

Players vs. IT — how spin and the trackball affect your shots

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There are three parts to this discussion, but they have been up for debate for years.  Let’s start with spin on putts.
PLAYER CLAIM: Applying roll or backspin to putts affects the putt.
IT CLAIM: Spin has no effect on putts.

Many pros believe that spin absolutely has an affect on the putt.  Some players are completely sure that applying roll on a putt helps it out of the fringe.  Others believe applying roll to a putt reduces the chance of a rollover on a steep downhill putt.  Some believe that backspin helps slow a putt and gives you a better chance of reducing rollovers.  And many pros just laugh because they think that spin simply has no effect on the putt.  The stance from IT has been that spin SHOULD NOT have any affect on the putt, because spin has not been programmed into the game to affect the putt differently.  Yet the pros are the ones playing on a daily basis, so their opinions and results are certainly basis for this debate!

Finally, many pros believe that distance balls putt faster and farther than normal balls.  The evidence behind this is pretty easy to see by doing a couple tests.  I haven’t heard IT refute this one.

THE TAKEAWAY: Do what “you believe” helps you.  If you think that you make more putts by applying spin, then by all means, continue doing so.  But know that there is no true evidence to support this behavior, at least from the programming point of view!  Also know that the farther your ball goes off the tee, the farther it will go on the green during a putt, albeit not a very significant amount.
PLAYER CLAIM: Pulling back to A or C on downhill putts helps prevent rollovers.
IT CLAIM: This behavior has some affect, but it’s not programmatical.

It’s widely believed that you need to pull the trackball back to A or C on downhill putts to help prevent the chance of a rollover.  I follow this advice and I believe in it.  However, IT also claims that nothing is programmed into the game to support this theory.  IT did bend on this claim for another reason, though.

Due to the trackball design, it’s possible that a pullback to A, but especially C, slows down the putt due to the design of the trackball.  Angled pullbacks create different reads on the sensors of the trackball, so the evidence supporting this theory may just be physical, due to the design of the trackball and NOT the programming of the game.

In addition, most players hit downhill putts with less force anyway.  When you slow the putt down, it’s got the best chance to go in.

THE TAKEAWAY: Continue pulling back to C on your downhill putts of 5 or more, and try to hit them softer than normal putts.  The combination of the physics of the trackball with the slower velocity should certainly help you minimize your rollovers.
PLAYER CLAIM: Backspin adds elevation to your shot, while roll reduces it.
IT CLAIM: Spin has no effect on the height of your shot.

This one isn’t much of a debate.  While IT says that backspin and roll have not been programmed to alter the height of your shot, there’s overwhelming evidence supporting the contrary.  Specific player tests have proven that backspin gives you a little more elevation on your shot, while roll makes your shot fly a bit lower than with no spin applied.

THE TAKEAWAY: If you are ever in need of a bit of extra elevation, put backspin on your shot.  To reduce the height of your shot, apply roll.  This is, of course, considering distance and the function of the spin itself in addition to elevation.


Is that “straight” putt really straight?

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With experience, most of us become pretty good putters.  We have a handle on how much break to play from different distances, and we don’t often miss putts.  If you’re at this stage, there’s another important hint to learn if you haven’t discovered this already.

Let’s say you have a 50-foot putt, Up 5.  You ram it straight ahead, but somehow you miss just left.  To this point, you may have just shaken it off and assumed you didn’t hit the ball as straight as you thought, but in reality, there might have been some break there that you didn’t see.

Here’s what you do: first, take into account the break when lined up with the hole.  Let’s stick with our 50-foot, Up 5 example.  Now, turn your golfer once to the left.  From here, we see there’s an additional break of Left 2.  Now go back and turn your golfer one turn to the right of the hole.  From here, we see it’s still just Up 5.

Hmm — so what does this tell us?  It means that there is actually a little break to the left, even though it’s not reflected when you’re lined up straight!  What you do is average out the breaks you see when turning once left and turning once right.  So in this case, you have to figure that there’s actually additional break of Left 1 on this putt, and you should aim just slightly to the right on your putt.

This practice is most important on uphill putts, because the slope right or left is magnified with uphill putts since your ball is slowing down as it nears the hole.

I’m in the habit of doing this almost all the time on putts outside 30 feet or so.  It doesn’t cost you anything, and it can certainly save you some strokes!

How virtual balls actually PUTT differently

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I was oblivious to this fact during my first two years of playing, but then during a discussion I was reading about a comparison of the different balls available in 2010, I learned that you’ll actually see a difference on the green based on what balls you’re using!

So here’s the deal: any balls known for adding distance to your shot (e.g. the yellow distance balls from 2008 or the Freaks from 2009) also add speed and distance on the green!  They come off the club hotter, reducing the amount of break you need to play on your putt, and they also go longer, possibly enabling you to make that 55-foot up 10 putt that may be impossible with a different ball.

On the downside, they are also more apt to roll over, so you have to be extra careful on severe downhill putts.

Never putt over the green again!

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It’s happened to all of us — you have a left 9 putt with the pin on the edge of the green, and if you go long, it’s over the cliff or into the water. You don’t necessarily want to lay up for the two-putt, but you can’t afford to miss and plummet over the edge either! Well, follow this tip to start making more of these putts and prevent that dreaded miss over the edge…

It’s simply this — if you’re going to miss, miss on the high side! That means that if the putt breaks left, make sure you miss right if you miss at all, and vice versa for right-breaking putts. Why? Because you have a much greater chance of rolling over the edge if you miss on the low side! With the exception of severe downhill putts, you’ll start to notice that if you miss on the high side, at least you’re safe, and then you can tap in the for the two-putt.

It just seems that the ball loses its momentum if it’s on the high side, and it will stop on the green before rolling over — but, if you miss low, it’ll keep on rolling, often over the edge.

SO, to prevent throwing away at least 2 strokes instead of 1 or 0, make sure that you play enough break to be on the high side of the hole if you miss! This can be a big difference between salvaging a good round and having a blow-up hole that ruins your round altogether!

Putting strength and “turbo” putts

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This topic is meant to address the question of at what distance you see the putt coming off the club more quickly, hence having to play less break.

Obviously, this topic had several different opinions, with no one being able to nail down exactly what you can expect from longer putts.

To expand, I wanted to see if someone knew the distance(s) that the “governor” for your putter changes to allow you to get longer putts to the hole. Let’s say I have a 60 foot putt with 3 degree break. I don’t know whether to play the break as if it’s a 30-foot putt, or as if it’s like an 80-foot putt. I don’t think I have to play as much break on the longer putt because of the extra power, but I’m wondering where those break point(s) are so I can know what to expect when the ball leaves the putter.

Consensus is that the “turbo” putt kicks in around 82 feet (though some say 80, 81, and 84). For a 90 ft putt (turbo), hit it like its a 40 footer. For a 120 foot putt hit it more like a 90 footer.  This is important knowledge so you can play appropriate break and give yourself a chance to drain a longer putt.

Others claim there is no “strong putter” or “weak putter.” There is no set distance where it changes, and the reaction you get all depends on the hole and the specific putt.

A common recommendation is to try to hit EVERY putt the exact same speed. Speed control on putting is HUGE, as it allows your muscle memory to remember the angle and speed of every putt. The only time to hit a putt any softer is when you have severe down slope — like 9 or 10 degrees. For putts like these that also have side slope, you can either pull back to the A (or C) and hit it slightly softer. For straight downhill putts, you can pull back straight just a tiny bit to B and hit it very softly to 2.

Another example: a 50-foot putt on flat ground will always play the same. A 50-foot uphill putt will change speed depending on how much slope you’re going up (for an up 10, expect the ball to be dying in the hole).

One final note for long putts — if you use your thumbs to putt, play more break on a longer left putt and less break on a longer right putt. If the putt is uphill, of course, you’ll need more break on both of those.

Any additional comments are welcome as we try to nail down specific details of longer putts, if any more details even exist!

Rollover putts

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If you’ve played enough, you probably have encountered the unpleasant occurrence of having a downhill putt roll right over the center of the cup and keep going.

So how do you avoid this happening to you? Well, there’s a couple things you can do. First off, be aware of the holes that are infamous for this behavior. Here’s a list of some holes where you have to be careful: Cumberland #18, Cypress Cove #s 16, 17, and 18, Misty Springs #s 16 and 18, Eagle Crest #s 16, 17, and 18, Bayou Bay #17, and Summit Lakes #s 17 and 18. Basically, when you get to a sloped green one of the final 3 holes on any course, be careful!

Secondly, there’s a trick to avoiding the rollover — if you have a downhill slope of 6 degrees or more, pull the trackball back to A or C before you putt. This should help keep the ball in the cup if it’s traveling too fast, but it doesn’t always work! It’s best to combine this trick with controlling your speed.

Putting strength

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This article stems from a comment by DesignMaster about the strength of the putter relative to distance from the hole. Here is his original post:

“I’ve been testing this theory this past week and have learned a few things, mostly that I can’t putt. LOL. I’m still trying to proof this, but I’m working on the hypothesis that there are different ranges for the putter. For example, the putter is preset for 20 feet, 40 feet, 60 feet and 100 feet. Thus, a 19 foot putt is going to break severely with a 20 foot putter, whereas a 21 foot putt barely breaks when you have the 40 foot putter. Also, you can’t reach a 20 foot putt with an up 10 degrees with a 20 foot putter. Unfortunately, you don’t get the choice of what strength your putter will be. I’ll update this when I have more accurate numbers, until then, let’s just say that this is an unproven tip.”

Since, there have been several replies. This was Dannyboy’s original reply:

I’m 99% sure they do it based off of a percentage. Just guessing here, but I think it’s set at about 125%. (up to 120 ft though)

And the reason some putts come off different is a couple things.

1: The game will say 6′ and you putt it in and it says 4′. That is a nice not. So that would be why a putt didn’t feel right when you hit it, the game misread the distance, so it didn’t allow for enough hardness to hit it with.

B: Certain greens play different than the rest. You just need to remember which ones, because they are consistantly different. (quick example: meaning if hole 6 of Summit rolls over on a down 5 putt, it always will in the same situations while every other hole with a down 5 will never roll over)

One thing to remember if you are a thumb putter, a big left breaker is harder to hit because of the way the rollers are set underneath. And when you thumb it, the ball will tend to hop off the rollers at the beginning and not allow you to hit it where you are aiming.
Lots more practice needed for this type of putt.”

Kinzler rebutted with this comment:

“Sorry to tell you, this is 100% false. I have never seen an up 10 putt not get to the hole from anywhere inside 80 feet (although an up 11 or 12 may very well come up short. The only way it won’t get there is if you’re on the fringe (fringe putts may not go more than 7 yards).

Also a 19 foot putt and a 21 foot putt will break the same everytime. There are no different types of putters. The only reason the putt may break differently is the speed the golfer has hit his putt. Obviously the harder you hit a putt the less break you have to play. This is the same theory that you need to play more break on severe uphill putts because the ball is coming off the putter slower. In turn the opposite happens for downhill putts.”

FRO HOU added this point about break:

“Putts longer than 60-70 feet with break play differently than shorter putts. The ball shoots off the putter face and goes out wider than you expect. You have to play a 70 ft left 5 like a left 2.”

Finally, AMJ added this:

“I think there is a “20 foot putter” and a “40 foot putter”. That’s not to say that is how far those putters will go but once you get beyond those distances the putter will go to the next level of putt power.

That’s how I attributed the magic 60′ rollever distance. Once a putt got over 60′ is went to the “90 foot putter” and that’s why putts in the 60-75′ range might have rolled over.”

Make what you will of this conversation topic, but practice will teach you the best how putts act!


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No one area can frustrate you more than missing putts. In Golden Tee, if you hit the green, you’re expected to be able to make the putt. Really, you’re expected to be able to make almost all putts on the green, but most of us aren’t that consistently good. This section contains some tips to help you sink more putts.

Keep in mind that putting can be very mental. I’ve found a couple things help: first, don’t think too much. Find the line, get over the putt and hit it. Second, if you do start thinking, remember a time you made a similar putt. Keep that positive thought instead of remembering all the times you missed it.

Use backswing on putts!

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I was skeptical of this for a long time, but I finally decided to give it a try during a round of Golden Tee Live just a couple weeks ago. The theory here, as supported by Golden Tee master Steve Sobe, is that you have better control of your putts by pulling back on the trackball and creating a backswing before you follow through. I’m still a rookie at this, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t sink nearly every putt using that style for a whole round!

For putting in Golden Tee, a backswing just didn’t seem necessary. Since you can’t create hook or slice, why pull back? Well, that’s one of the reasons that you should! You don’t have to worry about pulling back exactly to B — just pull the thing back. Then, as you follow through to your line, it seems like your putts are more “true,” and the cup seems to suck up the ball much more often!

This method works especially well for me on long, sloped putts. You don’t have to worry as much about speed (just follow through smoothly), and I think it even takes some break out of the putt! You’ll probably be scared to try it, like I was at first, but try it for a round and see if you knock a couple strokes off your score!

Try pulling the ball back on an angle directly in line with the break of the green. For example: a left 5 putt – pull the ball back a little left and try hitting on the same line you think the break will be. This will help on both left and right putts. Anything over down 5 or more always pull the ball back to the C and go an extra degree out farther.

Downhill putts

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Golden Tee tips tricks Downhill puttsThese can be downright scary. Sometimes if you miss a downhill putt in Golden Tee, your ball will carry all the way off the green, and sometimes even into sand or the water! You want to putt with confidence, but if you miss, you surely want to have a putt back up the hill at the hole.

Contrary to uphill putts, the side slope on downhill putts affects the ball less. So, the best tip here is if you have a 2-degree slope to the right on a downhill putt, you can play it as if the slope were only 1-degree (I’d play about half as much slope as I’d play the same shot on level ground).

As mentioned above, the worst thing that can happen is you putting the ball all the way off the green. I don’t like to hit downhill putts very hard at all, and I don’t recommend it either – I try to feel out the side slope and finesse the ball in the hole. I might miss an extra putt per round by playing soft, but I could also save several strokes by keeping it on the green for the return putt back uphill, if needed.

Putting slope vs. distance

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Nailing putts in Golden Tee is all about gauging slope vs. distance. The further away you are from the hole, the more the slope is going to affect your putt, so the more break you’ll have to play with the same degree slope.

In Golden Tee, one great tip to know is that you can’t hit a putt so hard that it lips out of the hole. So, a lot of guys really crank their putts to try to take some break out of the shot. The harder you hit a putt, the less the slope affects the break, so the more you can aim right at the hole. The risk in this, of course, is that you can blow the ball way by the hole if you do miss the putt (see section on “Downhill Putts”, especially). Or, you might not be as accurate in your direction if you try to putt it too hard.

Long putts do require a strong shot – the worst thing you can do is leave a putt short and never give it a chance to go in!

Slope vs. distance is a constant battle that you’ll get lots of practice at. On most medium-distance putts of only 1 or 2 degree break, you can aim at the high-side of the cup and make them pretty consistently. When you start to see a lot of break, you’ll need experience to gauge strength vs. direction in your shot. For instance, you’d probably play a 70-foot putt with 1 degree slope, a 35-foot putt with 2 degrees slope, and a 20-foot putt with 3 degrees slope all on the same line. Really, the best thing to do here is get lots of practice, but I can help with some specific tips in certain situations within this section.

I can’t stress enough that the large majority of putts in Golden Tee are missed because you don’t play enough break.  If you aren’t sure, try to err on the side of too much break — you may be surprised to see the ball go right in the hole!

Lag putts

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Sometimes you’ll have a putt in Golden Tee that’s like 8 degrees down and 9 degrees left from 30 feet away. These are a nightmare! I’m ashamed to admit it, but sometimes I accept defeat before I’ve even attempted a horrible putt like this one. You can quickly find yourself in a vicious cycle of difficult putts, down and uphill against ferocious slope, that you can’t make, and all of a sudden you’re taking 5 putts to get it in the hole! It can totally ruin your round.

If I suspect that I’m being pulled into one of these traps, my tip is to try a lag putt just to try get the ball closer to the hole on a better, makable slope. In the example above, I’ll rotate my golfer to the right and barely tap the ball forwards. The slope will bring the ball down closer to the hole and I should be left with a putt I can make. It’s not glamorous, but I’ve salvaged a 2-putt instead of endangering my entire round.

Another time you may need a lag putt is if you’re on the green, but there’s fringe between your ball and the hole. Golden Tee doesn’t allow you to chip when you’re on the green, so all you can do is putt around the fringe and set up your next putt.

Severe side slope on putts

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Golden Tee tips tricks Severe side slope on puttsIt takes lots of practice to know how far to the right to hit a 30-foot putt in Golden Tee that breaks 8 degrees left. Still, in almost all putting situations, you don’t need to rotate your golfer to compensate for severe slope. In the example above, I just try to gauge how far to the right I need to shoot the ball and hope it goes in.

Another guide I use is that on a flat green (no up/down) a 10 degree break equals the gap between 1 and 2 (or 2 and 3) on your trackball. So a left 5 break means aim your putt halfway between 2 and the gap between 2 and 3. On steep hills (up or down) you need to putt out a little farther.

As in the “Lag putts” section, there can be occasions where you do need to rotate your golfer to compensate for severe slope. I have not come across a slope yet where I can rotate one way, putt it straight, and have the slope of the green bring the ball into the hole. Rather, the tip here is to putt in the direction of the slope to help it along that way. So if I’m scared of a 10-degree slope to the left, I may rotate right and then putt the ball towards the left, with the slope, to try to get it in. It’s best to avoid these situations if you can, because it’s much easier to make putts where your golfer is facing straight on with the hole!

Uphill putts

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Golden Tee tips tricks Uphill puttsBreak is amplified on uphill putts in Golden Tee, mostly because the upward slope slows the ball down as it approaches the cup. For uphill putts with some break to either side, a great tip is to anticipate more break than you’d see on a level putt with the same side slope. When executing uphill putts of 40-feet or more, that 2-degree break will definitely act more like a 4-degree break, especially as it gets close to the hole.

Fringe putts

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Golden Tee tips tricks Fringe puttsThese can be very frustrating. If you’re barely on the fringe in Golden Tee and don’t have a very long putt, you can usually use your putter to get out and at the cup. Fringe not only slows down your ball a lot, but it also increases the effect of the green slope. If you’re putting out of the fringe from 20-feet away with a 3-degree break, it’s going to look like a 5 or 6-degree break once it gets to the hole. The fringe slows down the putt significantly, which causes the slope to have more affect on the break. So, a good tip I always use is to hit fringe putts very hard and play slightly more break.

Putting technique

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Palm or thumbs?
Putting style in Golden Tee is up to personal preference, but the majority of good players putt with their thumbs. I used my palm for a long time for putts and did pretty well with it, but I recently switched to thumbs, and I’m starting to see the benefits. Thumbs seem to allow you to putt more accurately than sliding your palm up towards the target, but again, personal preference prevails!

If you’re just starting out with thumbs putting, a good tip is to try to notice where your putts end up on straight shots with no slope. When I started with thumbs, I seemed to be pushing my straight putts to the right. I picked up on that pretty quickly and was able to compensate by aiming at the left edge of the cup. If your thumbs putts aren’t going straight, adjust your follow-through so that the ball goes where you think you are aiming!

Where to look?
Another area that most people don’t think about is where your eyes are looking on your follow-through with your putt. Are you looking at the hole on the screen? If so, you may not notice if your follow-through is off-track. Are you looking down at your thumbs as you shoot? If so, you may miss the result of your putt on the screen. I try to pay attention to both, but as I eventually got more consistent, my eyes usually move up to the screen after I execute my putt with my thumbs.

Putting wind and roll

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Don’t worry about wind on putts in Golden Tee – it doesn’t affect them.

Don’t worry about roll or backspin on putts either – it doesn’t work, and you don’t need it.

Just concentrate on slope and distance, as outlined within several tips in this Putting section!