Bad Break

By Frank ThomasJune 1, 2010, 4:18 pm

Frank,
Thank you for the weekly putting tips they are really starting to help my putting. This last week you discussed uphill vs. downhill breaking putts. I think that reading the green is sometimes difficult enough without the added problem of a downhill or uphill break. Please help me understand this phenomenon. Also I have a friend who I play with frequently who says that I should watch the ball as it passes the hole (that is if I miss it) and putt back along this same line. I don’t think he is right. Can you help me?

– Brian

Brian,

I am glad you are enjoying the weekly putting tips and we are surprised at how many more questions we are getting about putting. Just maybe, golfers are starting to recognize the importance of this part of the game. In the neighborhood of 45 percent of our score, and about 40 percent of the time we spend on the course is on the green. Yet we don’t really practice, nor do we know how to practice our putting.

With regard to your question about breaking uphill putts vs. breaking downhill putts and returning those you missed; first let me advise you that the answer is a lot more complex than it would seem.

I think we all recognize that fast greens break more than slow greens for the same slope. And a downhill breaking putt is similar to a fast green whereas an uphill breaking putt is similar to a slow green, therefore downhill breaking putts will break more than uphill breaking putts.

The reason for this is that a slow green (or uphill putt) requires that the ball must be hit harder, thus it starts off faster and slows down faster than a putt of the same distance on a fast green (or downhill putt), which must be hit more softly and it slows down more slowly, and thus takes more time to reach the hole. The longer a putt takes to reach the hole the more time gravity – pulling it downhill – will have to act.

The ball will take a path similar to a parabolic curve, breaking more at the end than at the beginning. This is due to gravitational forces and the phenomenon known as precession. The slower the ball travels the more it will break. Therefore at the end of the journey the ball will break considerably more than at the beginning. Because a downhill putt is travelling slower it will break 3 or 4 times more than an uphill putt.

Brian, you are right in not putting on the same path back to the hole as the ball took on its way past the hole because short putts do not break as much as long putts, especially if you hit them at the correct speed.

The correct speed for a short (two foot) putt should be hit hard enough to hit the back wall (not the top lip) of the cup and it should be traveling faster than the ball was when it passed the hole on the missed putt. Therefore it will not break as much.

A babied short putt – soft enough to only die in the hole – on a side hill lie will turn as much as 50 degrees as it dies. This is not what you want to do as you will inevitably miss this putt. Hit it with confidence and fast enough to hit the back wall of the cup and don’t aim outside the hole on short putts.

Brian, if you understand how and why putts break you will be a lot better off than watching the last foot or six inches to give you a good indication of what will happen on the next putt.

Frank

Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf. Thomas is chief technical advisor to GolfChannel.com. He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
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Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

“More punishment,” he said.

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DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.

Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.

Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.

It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.  

With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.

Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.

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TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 3:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:

• Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.

• This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.

• Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery

 


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


• In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”

• At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.

• Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.

• My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.

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Woods fires shot into crowd: 'I kept moving them back'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:14 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It added up to another even-par round, but Tiger Woods had an eventful Friday at The Open.

His adventure started on the second hole, when he wiped a drive into the right rough. Standing awkwardly on the side of a mound, he prepared for a quick hook but instead fired one into the crowd that was hovering near the rope line.

“I kept moving them back,” he said. “I moved them back about 40 yards. I was trying to play for the grass to wrap the shaft around there and hit it left, and I was just trying to hold the face open as much as I possibly could. It grabbed the shaft and smothered it.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I was very, very fortunate that I got far enough down there where I had a full wedge into the green.”

Woods bogeyed the hole, one of four on the day, and carded four birdies in his round of 71 at Carnoustie. When he walked off the course, he was in a tie for 30th, six shots off the clubhouse lead.

It’s the first time in five years – since the 2013 Open – that Woods has opened a major with consecutive rounds of par or better. He went on to tie for sixth that year at Muirfield.