When thinking of the most difficult shots in golf you may imagine a bunker shot, a shot from the rough or a shot from behind a tree, however, some of the most difficult shots frequently occur on the putting green.
These take the form of long putts - from 30 to 90 feet. Long putts can prove to be the most difficult shots as it is very easy to three, or even four putt from this distance. This is more true for senior golfers if you have struggled on long putts at any point in your golfing career - these putts can really destroy confidence for the rest of the round and future rounds. Here is some advice to break those long putts up and make them easier.
Imagine you have a long putt in front of you on the putting green. There are 60 feet to cover to the hole and there is a big slope from left to right across the green. This may seem a daunting prospect however, if the putt is broken up into three parts rather than one big whole the putt becomes much easier.
The three parts are:
Firstly we need to read the putt. This involves taking in all available information by walking around the putt and squatting down behind the ball to get a correct look at the slope on the green - this is much easier to do from lower down. To pick the line correctly we need to forget about the actual hole and focus on the apex of the putt. This is the highest point of the putt where the ball will start turning towards the hole - we must aim at this point instead of the hole. It is important to visualize a vivid point on the green that is easy to see to stop being sucked into aiming at the hole. On the practice green, walk up to the point that you have picked and either drop a coin down or stick a tee in the ground at this point to get into the habit of visualizing a target other than the hole.
Secondly, we need to judge the speed of the putt. We already have the line and a new target to aim at so now we can forget totally about direction and purely focus on how hard we need to hit the putt to get to our apex point. To do this - practice, practice, practice! Get on the putting green and hit lots of putts to different targets and different lengths. This will provide good feel for hitting the correct distance when you are on the golf course. Practice swings are also important in gauging the correct speed of the putt. Stand next to the ball and while looking at the apex of the putt, take some practice swings imagining how far you need to swing to get the ball to the target. When comfortable with the length of the practice swing, step forward to the ball quickly and pull the trigger.
Now we have the line and the speed of the putt all we need is the confidence to start the putt on the correct line. To do this, take one last look from behind the ball and pick a spot on the green approximately two feet in front of the ball on the line to the apex of the putt. Once you have your spot all you need to do is roll the ball over that spot and you know that the ball will be on the correct line.
If you can work through these three segments when faced with a long putt, it will aid your confidence and focus you on the task at hand to complete one of the most difficult shots in golf successfully.