Line and speed on putts

I often ask people who are struggling with their putting what percentage of their mind to they pay attention to speed and to line when they are standing over the ball.

Most say around 70% speed and 30% line. Some actually have a higher percentage on line.

It’s actually a trick question. You should be spend 0% thought on line. Once you have lined up your putter face and gotten into your stance, line is already taken care of and all you need to focus on is hitting the putt solid and the right speed.




  1. Calvin D

    Different. I settle on pace with three practice strokes.
    The I repeat the selected stroke on a six inch line through
    the ball. Works for me.

    • woody

      Yeah, me too, except I put the 6-inch line (or maybe it’s 8 or 12 inches) ahead of the ball. And no practice strokes. Whenever I see a pro do it on TV, the practice stroke is way too fast. It’s more to get rid of the jitters than to “test” the speed.

      Once I have the line, I putt the line. The #1 thing is to get the putt starting on the correct line. The correct line already factors-in speed.

      The ball just gets in the way of the stroke. Since I’m already aligned, and the face is square to the line, I just trust my setup and putt my line. No further worry about ball or putter during the stroke.

      • Calvin D

        I like that. My ideal would be to just place the putter back of the ball and let it go. Julius Boros would be my model putter. Oh hey there’s a ball, whap.

  2. Christian

    I read “Putting Out of your Mind” by Bob Rotella a few weeks ago. His suggestion is to make your read, get lined up, then look at your target, back and the ball and just let it go. Trust your instincts to get the ball there. So I am going for neither, just target :-). So far so good for me. I am putting better and don’t worry so much if my putt doesn’t end up in the right place.

    • Monte Scheinblum

      Perfect. Any time you worry about line, it keeps you from putting well.

      • woody

        Heh-heh…if that were true, then my putting wouldn’t be good…and I’m on the putting green every day.

        One of your good observations about golf in general is that there’s no one correct way to do it. I think that carries over to putting, which most pros seem to admit is individualistic.

        Since there’s usually nobody there when I’m practicing, my routine is to mostly putt 20, 30, 40, even 50 footers, with the idea of for sure getting down in 2 if I should miss. By seeing the line, and feeling the line, then trusting the line, I’m not usually disappointed.

        It’s like Aim Point technology on TV golf. I adjust my line for the speed and anticipated break.

        If I were HITTING the ball, maybe it would be different.

      • Monte Scheinblum

        S….what I mean is…people who are struggling with their putting…the worrying about the line is generally what is causing it.

        This post is not about people who putt well, but one of the main reasons why people who putt poorly putt that way,.

  3. BernardP

    There is more than one line, because line depends on speed. I “choose” my line, and then let my speed be totally instinctive, according to this line. There is no practice swing in my routine.

    I was vindicated to see that Rory McIlroy putts without a practice swing.

  4. woody

    Monte, I think you have a good point especially if people are concerned about the ENTIRE line during their stroke.

    What I do and what the first post mentioned is see and feel the whole Aim Point situation, get aligned to it…but then narrow the focus to a manageable portion of the line.

    People who aren’t good at “seeing” an invisible line would have to do it another way.

  5. Calvin D

    If I putted the way I really want to I would read it while walking on the green, set the putter behind the ball and stroke it away. When I try this it works well if I can leave the pace to my subconscious but if I fiddle with the pace I screw up. This conversation has inspired me to try what I really want in a more extended way.

    I have never gotten any benefit from crouching behind the ball or walking back and forth. Or plumb bobbing. Or even cleaning the line.

    • woody

      The bigger checklist you have, the worse it gets. If you’re a pro playing for glory and a ton of money, maybe a routine settles you down. If you’re not in that category, then making a big production out of it might just be a case of being s-l-o-w.

      I like what Daly said. If you take too much time, you’re just thinking about how you might miss it. Instead, think about how you’re going to make it.

      I’ll never forget the first chance I had to par a particularly nasty hole that always gave me trouble. I did everything but Spiderman with that putt. Read it from both sides, which I never do. It was a miss, of course, no chance of going in.

      But, I’d still remove impediments on the line.

  6. north


    Once over the ball, why are you considering speed? As part of the read, I determine a line I want to start the ball on and a spot on that line I want to hit the ball to, so once over the ball all I am thinking about is hitting the ball to that spot.

    The problem I have with you breaking it into line and speed is that they don’t exist separately – the amount of break a ball takes is dependant on its speed. The read isn’t done until you know both.


Leave a Reply

Share This