During the late 90s and early 2000s I had the good fortune of teaching 3 players who were number one on their respective tours in putting for the year. (Dan Ahmad Bateman, Buy.com Tour; Kevin Stadler, Nationwide Tour and Ramon Brobio, Asian Tour) I learned as much from them as they did from me.
The first lesson was reading the putt backwards, yes backwards. They see the putt coming out of the hole backwards as they read the putt. They don’t read from ball to hole. They read from hole to ball. They see the ball coming out of the hole at, for example, 5 PM. I, too, thought reading the putt out of the hole backwards was a bit odd until I tried it. I saw the line much better immediately.
[When you consider visualization, we always start with our target and work backwards. Before we get in our car, our targets are well defined. We work backwards from our target to get to our destination. I expanded this concept to teaching on course visualization from the green back to the tee box. For example, as you stand on the tee box, see yourself on the green taping in. Then, visualize from that tap in back to the fairway, then from the fairway back to the tee box. You just played the hole backwards, not too much unlike your visual plan in your car.]
Green reading is specific to your speed and speed is the most important part of putting. If you like to “die” the ball into the hole, you will see a much greater break than a person who wants to be 18 inches by when they miss.
In the early 2000s I did a 3 year study in Dr. Frank Jobe’s biomechanics lab at Centinela Hospital in Los Angeles. The entire study was on physical balance. One part of the research protocol was a balance and vision study. One of the more significant findings was that which hand you hold the club in behind the ball determines the accuracy of what you see. The attached video demonstrates how to test this phenomena behind the ball on a green.
There is a simple way to determine which hand you should hold the club in behind the ball.
1. Find an empty Corner
2. Aim your feet directly at the corner
3. Spread your feet a comfortable distance apart so your body is aimed exactly at the corner
3 Pick up a club in your right hand and note if your body is aimed left, right or exactly at the corner
4. Move the club to your left hand and note if your body is square to the corner
You will find that holding the club in one hand rotates your body while the other keeps you square to the corner. The hand that keeps you square is the hand you want to hold the club in when you read putts or stand behind the ball in the full swing.
In summary, determine which hand to hold the club in as you stand behind your ball; read the putt backwards out of the hole. Your green reading will improve and, when you pair your speed with the green reading, you will begin making more putts.