how to play double breaking putts 1

Gauging a putt's break is one of golf's most delicate tasks. What do you do when a putt breaks not once, but twice?

It's not uncommon to face a putt that breaks left, then right (or vice versa) on courses with large, undulating greens. And it can prove downright baffling if you don't know how to approach a double-breaker.

Actually, it's quite simple when you, well, break it down. Just divide the putt into two halves –part one is the area from your ball to the end of the first break; part two turns in the opposite direction and covers the remaining portion all the way to the hole.

how to play double breaking putts 2

Any time you've got an obvious double-breaker:

  • Crouch behind the hole and read the green from the cup to the point where the second break starts.
  • Next, read the first part of the putt from behind your ball to determine the line between the ball and the spot you identified as the starting point of the second break.
  • Picture a hole at the junction of the first and second breaks, and stroke the putt to reach the imaginary cup. Remember, the putt must reach the end of part one with enough pace to reach the hole following the line of part two.

Double-breaking putts aren't so bad if you treat them as two putts in one. In fact, the challenge can be pretty fun with the proper mindset.

How to Play Double Breaking Putts

How to Play Double Breaking Putts

To putt well, you have to overcome a number of obstacles. First, you have to build a good stroke in practice, so that you can reliably roll the ball on your intended target line. Next, you have to develop the ability to control your speed, which golfers often refer to as 'feel'. Also, you need to learn how to read the greens effectively, in order to pick out the right line in the first place. It is this last point which we will be addressing in this article.

Specifically, we are going to be talking about how to read double breaking putts. This is a putt that is just like it sounds – the ball is going to move at least a little bit to both the right and left over the duration of the roll. Obviously, this is going to complicate matters when it comes time to make your read. Normally, you only have to worry about reading your putts in a single direction. For instance, you may stand behind the ball and clearly see that the putt is going to break to the left. With that out of the way, you can decide how much break you need to play, and get on with it.

With a double breaking putt, you are going to have to think harder about your target line before you make a stroke. How much is the putt going to break to the right, and how much is it going to break back to the left? Where should you start the ball in order to let it take all of these slopes and wind up back on track in the end? These are difficult questions to answer, and even experienced golfers have trouble with double breaking putts from time to time.

To give yourself the best possible chance at success, you need to have a plan. By creating a plan for how you are going to read your double breaking putts, and then sticking to that plan each time this situation arises, your odds of success will improve. Later in this article, we are going to offer up a suggested plan for reading your double breaking putts. Feel free to use this plan as it is, or make minor changes to it in order to suit your needs and preferences.

Obviously, you shouldn't expect to make very many of these difficult putts, as simply rolling the ball up close enough for an easy tap-in should be considered a good result. It is important to have realistic expectations on the greens in order to avoid becoming frustrated. A double breaking putt is always going to be a challenge, and your first goal is to get off the green in just two putts. If the first one happens to fall in, that's great – but be happy with your two putt and hold your head high as you walk to the next tee.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Basic Concepts

Basic Concepts

There are a few basic rules of thumb which you should keep in mind when preparing to play a double breaking putt. As you might expect, the basic process for reading this kind of putt is not going to differ all that much from your usual routine. You will want to check out the putt from a variety of angles, and you will want to pay special attention to the speed that you are going to need to leave the ball right next to the cup. At the end of the green-reading process, you are going to do the same thing that you do for any other putt – you'll settle on a target line and send the ball on its way.

So, what kinds of things should you do differently when you have to deal with a double break? Consider the points listed below.

  • Break the putt into halves. If you are facing a putt which is going to break in one direction for part of the roll before twisting and going the other way, it is a good idea to break the putt up into two halves. Read the second half of the putt first. In other words, if you were only going to be dealing with the second half of the putt, what line would you use? Make that decision and then work your way back to the first half of the putt. Looking at the challenge in two 'chunks' is a good way to focus your mind on getting an accurate read. If you try to see the putt as just one big obstacle, it might be too overwhelming for you to make quality decisions.
  • Separate the read from your stroke. It will probably take you a bit of time to finalize your read on a double breaking putt. Once you do, however, it is important to put that read out of your mind and just worry about sending the ball on your chosen line with the right speed. In other words, you aren't going to do anything different with your stroke just because there are two (or more) breaks to deal with between your ball and the hole. The only thing you can do with a putter is roll the ball straight, so simply do that to the best of your ability. If you are standing over the ball thinking about the various twists and turns that are going to take place during the roll, it will be hard to concentrate on your stroke. Pick out a specific target line and use that as your sole focus while moving the putter back and through. If you can find the discipline to simplify your thinking in this way, you will achieve better results.
  • Keep your head down. Okay, so this tip isn't exactly exclusive to double breaking putts. You should always keep your head down throughout the stroke when putting, regardless of what kind of putt you face. With that said, it may be a bit more difficult to keep your head down when a double breaking putt is laid out in front of you. This point works together with the previous point on our list. By putting the double breaking aspect of the putt out of your mind, you should find it easier to keep your head down and produce a quality stroke.
  • Err on the safe side. When you face a double breaking putt, it is likely that you are on a pretty dramatic green with some severe slopes around the edges. If that is true, play it safe and read your putt on the side that will leave you in a decent spot. For example, let's imagine a putt where the green runs off dramatically to the left only a few feet away from the hole. If you miss your putt too far left, the ball could actually roll off the green completely. To avoid that outcome, read your putt in a way that favors the right side of the cup. It's hard to be perfectly accurate on a double breaking putt, so don't assume that you are going to get the read just right. Favor the safe side and at least give yourself a chance to complete the two putt and move on to the next hole.

The tips included in the list above should help you get started with a double breaking read. These kinds of putts are never going to be easy, as they can still put the most experienced golfer to the test. If you can find a double breaking putt on the practice green at your local course, use that opportunity to get more comfortable with this type of challenge.

Finding the Right Pace

Finding the Right Pace

It is harder than you might imagine to hit this type of putt with the right speed. When you have to deal with at least a couple of different slopes, your ball is going to pick up and lose speed at various points along the way. As is rolls down one slope, it is going to gain speed, only to lose some of that speed as it heads into the slope on the other side of the break. These kinds of putts can be like rolling your ball down a roller coaster, and in the end, it is difficult to dial up the perfect pace.

The first thing to pay attention to in terms of pace is the end of the putt. What is the slope of the green doing around the hole? If the slope is running down away from you around the hole, you will need to be very careful with your speed. It won't take much in this situation to hit the ball too hard and have it run well past the cup. Of course, if you are putting to a hole which is sloped down toward you, that 'backstop' is going to help you control your speed nicely.

Next, consider the start of the putt. Are you going to be sending the ball immediately up a slope in order to set it in the right spot for the rest of the roll? If so, you'll need to make an aggressive stroke to make sure the ball has enough energy to get up into the perfect position. It is common to come up short when sending the ball up a slope at the start of a long putt, and the results can be ugly from there. When feeding the ball down a slope at the start, it is usually easier to hit the right spot before gravity starts to take over and carry the putt on to the target.

Just like any other putt, your ability to control the speed of a double breaking putt is largely going to come down to how well prepared you are for the day. If you spend some time on the practice green prior to the round, and if you pay attention to the roll of some of your early putts, you will have a much better chance to achieve success. There is simply no way to replace experience on the greens when it comes to judging speed. With a proper warmup, you can build feel for the speed of the greens on that particular day, and you can enhance your confidence as well.

One last point on the topic of speed control has to do with the quality of your stroke. If you keep your head still and strike the ball on the center of the putter face, your odds of getting the speed right are going to go way up. It is when you miss-hit the ball at impact that you will usually struggle to reach the cup with your putt. Never take for granted the power of a quality stroke when looking for good results from long range. You still need a good read, of course, but making a great stroke is the best way to rise to the occasion.