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Your approach on "must make" putts vs "normal" putts


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#1 TheCityGame

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 06:47 AM

You're playing golf and you have a "must make" putt. Next one doesn't matter.

I'm not talking about a 12 footer that you get to the hole 100% of the time. but, more like your 25-35 footer that you'll make occasionally but if you lag one up there and leave a 15 incher, you feel pretty good about that.

Now, I play with some guys who are "3 feet past the hole" kinds of putters and they take the same approach on any putt. But, some of us are more gentle. We like to let the ball ride the slope those last few feet, generally come in on the high side.

How do you "change your mindset" on these must-make putts? I tend to read greens with my normal stroke in mind and when I have a "must make" I either fire it by on the high side, or over compensate and take all the break out of it only to watch it zip past on the low side.

Or do you not change your mindset at all and just live with leaving some must-makes short and face the scorn of your fourball partner, or your scramble team?

Sometimes, I think "well, some of my long putts go in, and some don't and maybe I just need to live with the shame of leaving some 'must makes' short". Pros do this. . .I don't know why this putt sicks with me, but Jason Day had like an 18 foot down hiller on 18 at St. Andrews in 2015 (had to look up the year) to get into a play off and he left it about a foot DFCS.

But, sometimes, I think, "these things come up often enough that maybe I should be practicing them more". I'm not talking about changing my whole approach to putting. I'm pretty happy with my general putting stroke and approach to putting. Guys think I'm a half-decent putter, but I definitely don't get 100% of putts in that mid-range to the hole.

Does anyone actually have a strategy for changing their mindset when they are faced with that must-make?

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#2 uitar9

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 07:10 AM

At my handicap, they are all important, lol
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#3 blehnhard

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 07:34 AM

IMHO, one should always try to roll the ball the "right" speed (for them).  Thru years of experience (data stored in our sub c), one must trust their instincts.  Trying to adjust speed (I have to "get it there") will almost always result in misses as your interpretation of line is based upon all that previous data stored in the mind. Some golfers are more aggressive putters than others over the total spectrum of all putts.  From 25 feet or so, the ability to leave the ball in the range of 6" short to 6" past (total of 16" distance dispersion counting the 4 1/4" hole) would be indicative of someone with very good touch and consistent speed control.

Our ultimate goal is to see every putt fall in, but all we can do is pick our line (based upon our "natural" sense of speed), start the ball on that line and the rest just "happens". I do not think you see a higher success rate of putts holed in that range from the "gotta get it there" mentality.

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#4 SNIPERBBB

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 07:46 AM

Same approach for everything except  maybe those 40+ ft lag putts. My thinking is you don't want to change your routine, speed, reads.. you need to stay in your comfort zone.
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#5 juststeve

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 08:26 AM

I try to make all my putts by hitting them at the speed most likely to go in without leaving a long next putt.

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#6 TheCityGame

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 08:43 AM

View Postjuststeve, on 11 October 2018 - 08:26 AM, said:

I try to make all my putts by hitting them at the speed most likely to go in without leaving a long next putt.
and do you think this is the "best strategy" when your opponent is in with a birdie and you have a 25 footer for bird, and the "long next putt" doesn't matter?
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#7 Obee

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 08:47 AM

View PostTheCityGame, on 11 October 2018 - 08:43 AM, said:

View Postjuststeve, on 11 October 2018 - 08:26 AM, said:

I try to make all my putts by hitting them at the speed most likely to go in without leaving a long next putt.
and do you think this is the "best strategy" when your opponent is in with a birdie and you have a 25 footer for bird, and the "long next putt" doesn't matter?

It is the best strategy if you tend to not leave many putts short.

If you tend to leave many/most of your 30 to 40 foot putts short, then this is not a good strategy.


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#8 the bishop

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 08:51 AM

View PostTheCityGame, on 11 October 2018 - 06:47 AM, said:

but Jason Day had like an 18 foot down hiller on 18 at St. Andrews in 2015 (had to look up the year) to get into a play off and he left it about a foot DFCS.
If you'll recall he won the Canadian Open right after that with about a 20 foot downhiller that went in with speed.

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#9 GSDriver

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 08:52 AM

I try to make every putt.  I realize the odds decrease as distance increases but still try to make them all.  I don't worry about the next putt, if I miss, as one of two things happen on every putt, they go in or they don't.
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#10 TheCityGame

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 09:19 AM

View Postthe bishop, on 11 October 2018 - 08:51 AM, said:

View PostTheCityGame, on 11 October 2018 - 06:47 AM, said:

but Jason Day had like an 18 foot down hiller on 18 at St. Andrews in 2015 (had to look up the year) to get into a play off and he left it about a foot DFCS.
If you'll recall he won the Canadian Open right after that with about a 20 foot downhiller that went in with speed.

https://www.youtube....h?v=JvS_9idIbOs
He learned from his mistake. (I don't know why but i can't find a video of the Open putt. I think my memory is correct though.)

For anyone who just putts the way they always do. . .do you think it's a hole in your game that you don't have a secondary strategy when you're faced with a must-make? Do you not think you can up your percentage of makes with the downside being more 3-putts when they miss (which in this case doesn't matter)? Out of 100 putts of some distance, if you normally have 10 1-putts, 88 2-putts, 2 3-putts, can you not change that to 15 1-putts by changing your intention over the putt? Even if it turns into 15 1-putts and 25 3-putts?

I never used to think about this too much, but last weekend, we played a tournament that was half-scramble and half "low net" and it felt like I had about 15 putts that were "do not leave this short". And it seems like a large percentage of games I get into these days are some form of four-ball, or "validation" or "left right" and I face SO MANY "don't leave it short" putts. It's not just the occasional putt -- it's all the time.

Contrariwise, I played in my CC "position round" earlier this year where the imperative was "make the field". I hit about 15 greens that day (all right in the middle if I could), and never hit an aggressive putt all day long. I might have made one birdie and had had 17 tap ins.

Edited by TheCityGame, 11 October 2018 - 09:19 AM.

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#11 andrue

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 09:22 AM

View PostTheCityGame, on 11 October 2018 - 08:43 AM, said:

View Postjuststeve, on 11 October 2018 - 08:26 AM, said:

I try to make all my putts by hitting them at the speed most likely to go in without leaving a long next putt.
and do you think this is the "best strategy" when your opponent is in with a birdie and you have a 25 footer for bird, and the "long next putt" doesn't matter?
I don't think about what the people in my group are doing. They aren't opponents. They are fellow golfers struggling to beat the game, just like me ;)
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#12 GMR

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 09:24 AM

Personally I hit all my putts with an "aim point" that incorporates the slope, grain, wind, etc. (note the quotes--not to be confused with AimPoint).  When I really need to make a 20 or 30fter and missing it doesn't matter (matchplay, stableford, etc.), I will just adjust my aiming point to be an extra 6-12 inches past the hole and a hair inside the original line to account for the increased speed. That way I still don't run the ball past, but can make sure it gets to or past the hole a higher % of the time.

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#13 VNutz

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 09:25 AM

Same approach as all of them, save that if it's an absolute must make, I make sure it gets to the hole as opposed to lagging it close or dying it into the cup. If it's a must make a 3-5 footer coming back doesn't matter, so a little more pace and a tad lower line than normal.

Edited by VNutz, 11 October 2018 - 09:25 AM.


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#14 SNIPERBBB

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 09:29 AM

No. If I leave a putt short, it's a misread of the speed or a mishit.
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#15 jslane57

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 09:33 AM

I think saying play it the same is good, but not exactly realistic. Why? Because urgency does matter. I try my best to follow my same PSR, but I will read the putt for slightly more speed (than my normal perfect speed read preference) as leaving it short is not an option on a must make putt...

Edited by jslane57, 11 October 2018 - 09:33 AM.

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#16 TheCityGame

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 09:51 AM

View Postandrue, on 11 October 2018 - 09:22 AM, said:

View PostTheCityGame, on 11 October 2018 - 08:43 AM, said:

View Postjuststeve, on 11 October 2018 - 08:26 AM, said:

I try to make all my putts by hitting them at the speed most likely to go in without leaving a long next putt.
and do you think this is the "best strategy" when your opponent is in with a birdie and you have a 25 footer for bird, and the "long next putt" doesn't matter?
I don't think about what the people in my group are doing. They aren't opponents.
This isn't about that type of golf.
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#17 Obee

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 09:52 AM

View Postandrue, on 11 October 2018 - 09:22 AM, said:

View PostTheCityGame, on 11 October 2018 - 08:43 AM, said:

View Postjuststeve, on 11 October 2018 - 08:26 AM, said:

I try to make all my putts by hitting them at the speed most likely to go in without leaving a long next putt.
and do you think this is the "best strategy" when your opponent is in with a birdie and you have a 25 footer for bird, and the "long next putt" doesn't matter?
I don't think about what the people in my group are doing. They aren't opponents. They are fellow golfers struggling to beat the game, just like me ;)

Ever heard of match play? :-)
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#18 jmkenn0

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 10:07 AM

i think its also very dependent on the greens.  The place most of my play occurs has very "slick" greens, so its a rarity to hit big looping putts in the hole.  Once the putt starts to break, its going down a slope, so to make putts it has to be really good pace, where the ball is just starting to break.  

So on must makes, I'm trying to gauge is it possible to make this putt on basically a straight line, so I don't have to play any break, and if that's not possible, what line can i take to have the putt just start to break when it gets to the hole.  As you can imagine, this leaves plenty of long putts coming back, plus violent lipouts.   But in match play, that doesn't really matter.  Either its in to halve or its not.

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#19 Ri_Redneck

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 10:25 AM

I tend to be a bit aggressive with uphil putts because I hate being short. However, I tend to be quite careful with slick downhill putts. Regardless, I'm TRYING to make every putt and my playing partners can pound sand if they don't like the way I do it.

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#20 Shilgy

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 10:43 AM

Every single putt I hit is struck with a specific speed and line in mind. The speed and line is my goal-not holing a putt. I never want to hit a putt so firmly that it must hit dead center to drop. The whole idea of "I gave it a chance" running it six feet by is rubbish. That had no more chance of dropping really than did the putt left short.
  Can we imagine the cup an extra foot away and roll to that target? Sometimes. But we all, at least all should, have a speed we "see" a putt rolling at. To fight that for a "must make" does not increase our odds of making the putt.

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#21 Golfer4Life

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 10:44 AM

I treat them all the same.
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#22 juststeve

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 11:02 AM

View PostTheCityGame, on 11 October 2018 - 08:43 AM, said:

View Postjuststeve, on 11 October 2018 - 08:26 AM, said:

I try to make all my putts by hitting them at the speed most likely to go in without leaving a long next putt.
and do you think this is the "best strategy" when your opponent is in with a birdie and you have a 25 footer for bird, and the "long next putt" doesn't matter?

My philosophy has gone back and forth on this issue but currently, if I really need the putt to go in, I want to make the hole as large as possible.  That means the ball is rolling slow enough to go in the front or either side.  I could be wrong but over the years I've seen a lot of putts lip out because they had too much speed.

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#23 TheCityGame

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 11:03 AM

View PostShilgy, on 11 October 2018 - 10:43 AM, said:

But we all, at least all should, have a speed we "see" a putt rolling at. To fight that for a "must make" does not increase our odds of making the putt.
That's exactly my "dilemma", if you will.

I never feel great about changing my technique on must makes, but I also wonder if I could train myself to be better at it. . .to develop a better "must make" game.

In reality, I get most of my "makeable" putts to the hole. And the ones I lag or leave short are generally so low percentage that "getting it there" isn't the limiting factor, but still. . .it's not uncommon to leave a must make dfcs which can be quite annoying.
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#24 raynorfan1

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 11:14 AM

The standard format at our club is team play either best ball of four or best ball of two; so we see this scenario a lot (you have a birdie putt with one of your partners already in for par).

My approach on normal breaking putts is that I like to get them to roll into the hole at ~5:00 or 7:00 (if you picture the hole as a clock face) - to me, that gives you the "biggest" hole to aim at.

On "must make" putts, the cardinal sin is leaving them short. I hit those putts faster (trying to get to ~24-30 inches past the hole) with less break to dead center. I don't know if it works or not, but I don't feel like a failure if I burn the side of the hole and go long vs. leaving it short.

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#25 andrue

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 02:45 PM

View PostObee, on 11 October 2018 - 09:52 AM, said:

View Postandrue, on 11 October 2018 - 09:22 AM, said:

View PostTheCityGame, on 11 October 2018 - 08:43 AM, said:

View Postjuststeve, on 11 October 2018 - 08:26 AM, said:

I try to make all my putts by hitting them at the speed most likely to go in without leaving a long next putt.
and do you think this is the "best strategy" when your opponent is in with a birdie and you have a 25 footer for bird, and the "long next putt" doesn't matter?
I don't think about what the people in my group are doing. They aren't opponents. They are fellow golfers struggling to beat the game, just like me ;)

Ever heard of match play? :-)
You're still not competing against them. Everyone (or every group) is playing their own game. It's just you and/or your team mates against the rules of golf and the course. Nothing your competitor does should affect what you do.

In that respect it's different from almost every other sport. You can't be blocked. You don't have to wrest control of something away from someone. In fact it's against the rules of the sport for anyone to interfere with anything you do. Any idea of competing against someone is entirely mental.


Worrying about what other people are doing is just a distraction. The lowest score wins so every shot you make should be the best you can do.

Edited by andrue, 11 October 2018 - 02:53 PM.

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#26 jut111

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 05:03 PM

View Postandrue, on 11 October 2018 - 02:45 PM, said:

View PostObee, on 11 October 2018 - 09:52 AM, said:

View Postandrue, on 11 October 2018 - 09:22 AM, said:

View PostTheCityGame, on 11 October 2018 - 08:43 AM, said:

View Postjuststeve, on 11 October 2018 - 08:26 AM, said:

I try to make all my putts by hitting them at the speed most likely to go in without leaving a long next putt.
and do you think this is the "best strategy" when your opponent is in with a birdie and you have a 25 footer for bird, and the "long next putt" doesn't matter?
I don't think about what the people in my group are doing. They aren't opponents. They are fellow golfers struggling to beat the game, just like me ;)

Ever heard of match play? :-)
You're still not competing against them. Everyone (or every group) is playing their own game. It's just you and/or your team mates against the rules of golf and the course. Nothing your competitor does should affect what you do.

In that respect it's different from almost every other sport. You can't be blocked. You don't have to wrest control of something away from someone. In fact it's against the rules of the sport for anyone to interfere with anything you do. Any idea of competing against someone is entirely mental.


Worrying about what other people are doing is just a distraction. The lowest score wins so every shot you make should be the best you can do.

Sorry but that’s just blatantly wrong in match play.

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#27 Krt22

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 05:15 PM

Word. Match play is highly dependent on what the other guy is doing. All that matters is beating them on that hole, not how many strokes it takes. With that being said, putting largely remains the same.

Edited by Krt22, 11 October 2018 - 05:18 PM.


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#28 Shilgy

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 06:12 PM

View Postjut111, on 11 October 2018 - 05:03 PM, said:


Sorry but that’s just blatantly wrong in match play.
Absolutely. There is a huge difference in match play having a 20 ft putt to tie the hole versus two putts to win the hole. The putt to tie will be, perhaps, a bit more aggressive than the norm but two putts to win is just a lag snuggled close.
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#29 MadGolfer76

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 06:30 PM

Some 40-footers are more make-able than others. You just have to use your best judgment about when to go for it and when not to.
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#30 dlygrisse

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 07:48 PM

View Postandrue, on 11 October 2018 - 09:22 AM, said:

View PostTheCityGame, on 11 October 2018 - 08:43 AM, said:

View Postjuststeve, on 11 October 2018 - 08:26 AM, said:

I try to make all my putts by hitting them at the speed most likely to go in without leaving a long next putt.
and do you think this is the "best strategy" when your opponent is in with a birdie and you have a 25 footer for bird, and the "long next putt" doesn't matter?
I don't think about what the people in my group are doing. They aren't opponents. They are fellow golfers struggling to beat the game, just like me ;)

You wouldn’t fit in in my regular group. We are trying to beat each other’s brains in. :).

Seriously there’s multiple bets, often you are playing with and against someone at the same  trash talking, arguing, pressing, praising, congratulating, berating. Every single hole is worth some.

That being said you just have to play your game and not try to do anything special..

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