One of the first pieces of golf strategy that most players learn is the fact that you want to keep the ball below the hole whenever possible. It is almost always easier to putt or chip uphill than downhill, as the job of controlling the speed is much easier when going up a slope.
However, positioning your ball below the hole just isn’t always possible. Golf is a hard game, and you aren’t always going to be able to place the ball in the perfect spot to leave yourself an easy putt or chip. So, with that in mind, one thing becomes clear – you need to be prepared to handle those tricky downhill putts successfully.
Yes – you still want to leave the ball below the hole as often as possible. But what about those holes when you miss your target, and are faced with a slippery downhill putt?
The rules of golf aren’t going to let you just move the ball to a better spot, so you need to have a plan in place. Fortunately, putting downhill is not quite as scary as some people would lead you to believe. With good fundamentals and a healthy dose of confidence, you can knock in your fair share of putts – even if you are on the wrong side of the hole.
A Change in Mindset
While you don’t need to be afraid of downhill putts, you do need to have a respect for the challenge that they present.
When putting uphill, you can be fairly aggressive with your speed, knowing that the ball isn’t going to race past the hole even if you hit it a bit too hard. However, when putting back down the hill, you can’t afford to be so aggressive with your speed. Hitting a downhill putt just a bit too hard can leave you with a difficult putt coming back – and a three putt might be in your future.
The mindset that you have on a downhill putt should be focused on a two putt, with the hopes of rolling one into the cup from time to time. When you are focused on two putting, your main concern will be getting the speed just right – because if you get the speed right, you are likely to be within tap-in range even if your read was a bit off.
It takes some patience to think about two putting rather than trying to knock the ball into the middle of the hole, but this is one of those times on the course where patience is going to be your best friend.