The Final Frontier


Here we are, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the final piece of the jigsaw, the missing link (and other such dramatic build up lines 😉). Over the last few articles we’ve been slowly building a robust approach to solid Course Management. As a reminder the pieces are:

Now we’re going to enter the final realm of Shot Choice specifics; simple considerations to banish those Big Numbers from your Scorecards:

Range of Tolerance


It’s vital to recognise you’ll not hit every Shot where you’d like. You’re going to miss; the key is to keep your misses playable - assertive shots to conservative targets!

If your tendency is to Fade the Ball (ball curving left to right in the air for a right handed Golfer), and the Pin is tucked up against a Bunker on the right of the Green, don’t go shooting at the Flag. Give yourself margin for error and aim 10-15 yards left of it, so the Ball can Fade toward the middle of the Green.

Consider the consequences; Make sure to aim where a miss doesn’t cost you an immediate shot or two (e.g. out of bounds, water hazard, unplayable lies). The key to shooting low Scores is eliminating double and triple bogeys caused by misses that don’t give you a chance to recover.

With that in mind here’s some advice on how to approach the Key Shots you’ll be faced with:

Off The Tee (Par 4’s & 5’s)

Teeing off.jpg

Your Tee Shot is simply meant to put you in the best possible place to hit your Approach Shot close, or help get your ball into a layup position where you can hit it close when playing a Par 5. Many Players refer to this a “leaving you with the best angle in” i.e. leaving your Approach Shot with the biggest possible margin for error.

Choosing the correct club is a 2 part process:

  1. Check your Yardage Book for your predetermined Go Zone (See Part 4) or use your Rangefinder to re-establish your Target/Zone distance.

  2. Grab the Club you’ve decided to use and make some practice swings from where you’re going to tee the Ball up. As you make these swings, clearly establish the Shot you want to hit and what you’re going to focus on while you hit. If you’re struggling to Commit to the Shot, grab another Club and go through the same process. One club will simply feel better in your hands. Your gut knows best. Go with it.

Approach Play (and Tee Shots on Par 3’s)


Know the Lie of the Land:

Many approaches are into a green that is slightly angled to the line of play. This offers a clear ‘safe line’ in – the higher land protects anything hit to that side. It also causes the Ball to move down the slope (if hit there) and identifies the side not to miss, as it leaves a much tougher up-and-down.

Hitting the Green from 180 yards or so is difficult for most Golfers, that’s why a smart Approach strategy needs to take into account which areas make a good leave for an up-and-down (see Part 4: Go Zones). That said, this is also a Shot that will reward a creative, positive approach, so planning for the best while protecting for the worst is never a bad way to go.

Uphill or Downhill Targets

It’s important to understand the influence hitting to an Elevated Target has on Distance. Yardage Markers & Range Finders measure the straight line Distance between two points, however you also need to know how much Uphill or Downhill the Target is located.

Land Angle and Trajectory play a major role here. The higher the Trajectory the steeper the Land Angle (and vice versa). Here’s a great video from TrackMan University and some summaries to help you understand the influence Elevation has on your Yardage:

Hitting Downhill


Shots hit to a Target that’s below you have a Steeper Land Angle, resulting in Less Bounce and Roll. The following highlights the influence Land Angle has on Carry Distance:

  • When the Land Angle is 45° the Ball Carries an additional 1 yard/ft/m for every 1 yard/ft/m the Target below you.

  • When the Land Angle is Shallower, say 30° (e.g. when hitting Driver) that number increases to an additional 1.75 yard/ft/m for every 1 yard/ft/m the Target is below you.

  • For a Steeper Land Angle, say 60° (e.g. when hitting a Wedge into a Headwind) that number decreases to an additional 0.6 yard/ft/m for every 1 yard/ft/m the Target is below you.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the more the target is below you the Steeper the Land Angle becomes by default (and vice versa for a Target that is above you). This results in less Roll/a Ball that stops quicker.

Hitting Uphill/to an Elevated Green


Shots hit to a Target that’s above you have a Flatter Land Angle, resulting in more Bounce and Roll.

You can use the same calculations from the Downhill section for the Reduction of Carry Distance when hitting to an Uphill Target (although the amount Uphill Targets loose is a little more than Downhill Targets gain) i.e.

  • 30°: 1 Yard = -1.75 yrd/ft/m

  • 45°: 1 Yard = -1 yrd/ft/m

  • 60°: 1 Yard = -0.6 yrd/ft/m


How to Apply:

  1. Establish the Straight Line Carry Distance to your Target as well as the amount it is above or below you.

  2. Choose the appropriate Trajectory & Land Angle.

  3. Accommodate for the appropriate Bounce and Roll to establish your Carry Distance:

    Uphill = Less Carry + More Roll
    Downhill = More Carry + Less Roll

Play Smart!


1: Flag Position: Attitude for Latitude

On tough approach shots, the flag is not so much your target as the basis of your strategy. e.g. The pin is cut just over a deep bunker and on the more dangerous side of the green – the right; going right at it is a fool’s errand. Clearly you can get at the pin from the left side of the green. Look for the shot that gives the widest margin for error, and play accordingly.

2: Club Culture: Take More

Hands up if you think you drive the Ball more than 217 yards. Many of you, I expect. Yet this is the figure revealed by the Arccos data-tracking system that represents the average amateur’s Driving Distance. Technology has taught us that we don’t hit the Ball as far as we think we do, and that relates to Irons as well as Woods – Arccos’s average 7-iron figure is 143 yards. Being honest with your Distances is key to hitting more greens, so if you’re not sure of your distances with each iron I recommend you book a TrackMan Session.

3: Line Drawing

Every Golfer knows to check wind direction, but sometimes we can be fooled. e.g. a strong wind off the left is masked by the high terrain to the left of the green. If the pin is sheltered and you’re fortunate to be hitting your Approach shot after your playing partners’, watch their shots through the air for evidence of wind. Also be aware of the Lie of your Ball e.g. A Ball below your feet and the general terrain sloping from left-to-right can join a left-to-right cross-breeze in pushing a right-handed Golfer’s Shot further right (and vice versa).

4: Pre-Shot: Action Pre-Play

Our body responds to the messages provided by the brain. If your brain has a very clear idea of the Shot you’re trying play, it can send the appropriate instructions to your muscles. This is why Pre-Shot visualisation/imagery is so important – it allows you to form a sharp image of the required shot that your body can respond to. Use all your senses and plenty of detail to make your image as sharp as possible, from the feelings in your hands, the sound of the ball off the face and to the sight of it landing on the green.

5: Get Creative

Every Approach Shot you face is different, and this should be reflected in your strategy. Instead of picturing a straight Shot and trying to execute a robotic, repeating Swing, try to see some shape and rehearse the movement – draw or fade – that could deliver it. Getting creative with your Approach helps you develop skill and adaptability, and encourages you to hit the Shot appropriate to the challenge - be flexible vs principled!

Smart Short Game

The same principles above are applicable to Short Game Shots, however there are 3 additional aspects to be aware of:

1: Lie


There is very little agreement throughout the industry on what constitutes great Wedge Play, especially with regard to Technique, but one thing most will agree on is that the Number 1 Wedge Skill for a Player and priority for a Coach is helping each student produce consistent Solid Contact. Without it, touch, confidence, tension level and focus all suffer. So Contact is Primary, and the Lie of your Ball has an overriding influence on the Shot you’re able to play and the associated Skill.

Ensure your first port of call when deciding the Shot to Play accommodates for the Lie. A general rule is if the Lie is poor use more Loft.

2: Landing Spot

Landing spot.jpg

This goes back to the previous section on Approach Shots; establish the Shot you want to play i.e. what the ball needs to do to finish in or very close to the hole. The first step is to identify the place you want to land the ball then determine how much roll is required to finish in or (ideally) within 3 feet of the hole.

As a general guide, get the ball on the ground as soon as possible. As I mentioned above, the Lie of your Ball, as well as grass type and slope, play major determining factors, so make sure to pay attention to all of these when deciding what Shot to play.

3: Finishing Zone

This one is pretty simple; leave yourself the simplest Putt if you miss (usually uphill). Be assertive, not stupid 😉👍🏻.



To be honest, this entire article could be absorbed by the nuances of the Short Stick, and illustrated by my previous article “Putting: Face vs Pace, who Wins”? However, in the interests of simplicity here’s some tips for solid Putting Tactics:

Being a good Putter can be distilled down into Mastery of 3 Key Elements:

  1. Pace Control

  2. Green Reading/Break Prediction

  3. Start Line

So, when it comes to Tactics lets focus on Number 2: Green Reading. Here’s some advice for effective Green Reading:

  1. Approach the Green from the Lowest Point. That’s where the Ball will break to overall and gives you the best perspective.

  2. Initially Read the Putt from the Low Point. It will give you the best perspective. Then Read it from various other angles in order for you to make an effective Prediction of what the Ball might do.

  3. Establish the Pace you want to hole your Putt - Pace determines what your Ball will do on the Green i.e. The required Read & Start Line. Dead Weight Pace makes the Hole Bigger than if you attempt to hole out using a Faster Pace. Do this by making Practice Strokes while looking at the hole, then get in there and make it; keep the time in-between your Practice Stroke and the Strike to a minimum (without feeling rushed).

If you’re keen to learn more about the nuances of Putting and how you can improve, I highly recommend you purchase a copy of The Lost Art of Putting.



  • Keep your misses playable - assertive shots to conservative targets

  • Establish your Go Zone and Commit (to the Shot AND your Shot Focus)

  • Planning for the best while protecting for the worst is never a bad way to go

  • Accommodate for Elevation: Minus Yardage for Uphill and Add for Downhill

  • Be Creative with your Shot choices, adapt to the situation - be flexible vs principled!

  • With Short Game: Be assertive, not stupid 😉👍🏻

  • Putting: Approach the Green and read each Putt initially from the Low Point, oh, and Pace is King;It determines the appropriate Read

Congratulations! You’re at the end! You made it! I hope you found the above and the previous 4 Articles on Effective Course Management useful and insightful? I’d love for you to get in touch if you have any questions or comments. I’ll do my best to answer and if I don’t know, I’ll make sure to refer you to someone that can!

Thanks for reading!

Oliver C. Morton

Shane With Jug.jpg

Congratulations Team Lowry!

It’s apt that at the time of writing, the Golf world is revelling in the astonishing Performance of Shane Lowry in the 148th Edition of The Open Championship at Royal Portrush. His (and his Caddy, Bo Martin’s) ability to deal with not only the grandeur of the occasion but the elements is something I’m unsure we’ll see the like of again. Hat’s of Gentleman, what a delight it was to witness!

Among many other things, what these Men clearly illustrated was a titanic understanding of the Environment i.e. how it influences the Ball’s Flight and how to adapt your Course Management/Tactics accordingly. So let’s use their Performance as a vessel to explore The Environments influence on Ball flight to assist you in developing the same level of understanding…

Following on from Part 1 and Part 2 of my 5 Week Series on Course Management, where I highlighted:

1. The importance of a good understanding of your Skill Set, and

2. Setting an appropriate Scoring Goal is for each hole (Personal Par)

Now comes the time where you need to start formulating your Strategy/Tactics. However, before we dive into the detail I believe a good understanding on how the Environment influences Ball Flight is vital.

So, for your benefit I headed over to the TrackMan University Website (if you haven’t signed up to the  TrackMan University, you really should, it’s awesome and it’s FREE!) and formulated a (fairly) brief overview of the main aspects that make up the Environment:

  • Rain

  • Wind

  • Altitude

  • Air Density

Here’s what I found:



The forecast for the final round at Portrush called for “outbreaks of heavy rain”. Well, the Northern Irish Coast didn’t disappoint as the Rain arrived on schedule to turn the final round into a torrential test of wills. It was a test most didn’t pass. Sunday’s scoring average was the best indication of how difficult the conditions were. The final-round average was 73.23, compared to 71.06 for Round 3 which was largely played in benign conditions.

So what considerations should we take when playing in the Rain (additional to the obvious challenges it provides like attempting to swing in Rain gear, keeping hold of your new found eel skin grips and temper a flailing umbrella!)? How does it actually influence the Balls behavior?

When playing in the Rain there’s several factors that influence the Balls travel:

  1. The associated increased Humidity, Wind, sometimes drop in Temperature (I’ll discuss their influence later)

  2. Wet Fairways and Greens reduce Roll

  3. Water on the Clubface and Ball reduce the friction the Ball experiences off the face, creating a higher launch, less spin, a steeper landing angle and less Roll.

  4. Mud often get’s on the Ball when it Rains. Mud on the right of the Ball makes it curve left, Mud on the left makes it curve right. Mud on top increases Spin and reduces Distance. Mud on the back and bottom reduces Distance due to a reduction in energy transfer (Smash Factor). Mud on the front also reduces energy transfer as it is accelerating the Mud and the Ball vs simply the Ball (Mud increases Ball weight & Drag - more on this later). Lean more about Mud Balls from Paul Wood via Golf WRX HERE.


When hitting shots in the rain, particularly the Driver, many players think hitting the Ball higher and maximizing carry Distance is the thing to do. Actually, hitting the Ball lower will create a shallower landing angle, provide more roll (decreasing the chance of the ball to picking up mud) and also counteract the higher launch/lower spin created by the reduced friction due to the presence of water on the Clubface/Ball.


Accommodate for the reduced Roll on and around the Greens by hitting your Putts firmer and choosing higher trajectory Short Game options (water on the Clubface/Ball causes a Higher Launch/less Spin and negates the influence of surface moisture on Roll)

Left = Dry / More Roll, Right = Wet / Less Roll

Left = Dry / More Roll, Right = Wet / Less Roll

It’s also easier to hit the Ball straight when hitting it lower (especially when Wind is present), which helps your shots find the Fairway and avoid the Rough, which is even tougher to hit out of in the Rain (due to the water increasing the grass’ density).

If you have Mud on your Ball, take an extra club (maybe even a couple of extra clubs if there’s a lot of it) and accommodate for the curve: aim left if there’s Mud on the left & aim right if there’s Mud on the right.

If it’s raining hard enough to have a more significant affect on your Ball than the above then it’s time to settle the match on the 19th 😉.



GOLF Open 1700.jpg

As well as torrential Rain, the final Round delivered wind gusts of up to 35 mph, making this edition of the Championship arguably the most authentic in years. Many of us will empathise, recognising the havoc Wind can have on the Golf Ball, but how many of us truly understand it’s influence? This is particularly essential when choosing the appropriate Club to hit at a particular moment. The below will help:

You probably know that you have to use more club into the Wind vs down Wind and the ball travels further down Wind than into but did you know that a Headwind hurts more than a Tailwind helps? At higher Wind speeds a Headwind hurt’s almost twice as much as a Tailwind helps!

Here’s some general Principles:

Compared to a Shot hit in Calm conditions/No Wind:

  • Hitting into a Headwind = Ball Flies Higher, Lands Steeper & Carry’s Shorter

  • Hitting into a Tailwind = Ball Flies Lower, Lands Flatter & Carry’s Further

This is due to ‘Lift & Drag’ (Lift = Makes the Ball Rise, Drag = What Slows the Ball Down):

  • In Calm conditions air moves into the Ball at the same Speed the Ball is travelling (Airflow same ~ Ball Speed)

  • With a Tailwind, the Ball is travelling Faster than the Air is moving into it (aka Reduced Airflow, so Ball Speed > Airflow)

  • With a Headwind, the Ball is travelling Slower than the Air is moving into it (aka Increased Airflow, so Ball Speed < Airflow)

It’s important to highlight that the Ball doesn’t Spin more when hitting into a Headwind, it’s the increased Lift & Drag, caused by the added Airflow that causes the Ball to Ballon. Although more Spin does create more Lift & Drag.

  • Increased Airflow = Increased Lift & Drag

  • Decreased Airflow = Decreased Lift & Drag


Into a Headwind, Spin is the enemy. Don’t hit the Ball harder! This likely creates more Spin due to the likely increase in Clubhead Speed (all things being equal).

When hitting into a Headwind use less Loft to optimise Distance, this will reduce Spin Loft (learn more about this HERE) and Spin Rate. 

Adversely, a Ball with too little Spin will turn the Ballooning Shot into one that drops out if the sky because Lift also keeps the Ball in the air. 

When hitting in a Tailwind use less Club (hitting a 9 Iron vs a 7 Iron) to Optimise Distance using Spin, however the best strategy is to launch the Ball higher to make the Ball land steeper and stop faster (caused by Less Roll).

As with most things in Golf - Experiment with different strategies to Optimise your Distance Control in Windy conditions and remember Lift & Drag don’t behave linearly to Airflow (More Airflow = More Lift & Drag) - a Headwind hurts more than a Tailwind helps!

Learn more by watching this short Video on how Wind influences Ball Flight from TrackMan University below:



There’s not much altitude at Portrush, but the nature of the various Professional Tours means Players have to adapt to new venues on a Weekly basis. Meaning they often have to play at significantly different altitudes from one week to the next. The most recent notable example of this being in February where the PGA Tour went from Mexico City (7,382ft) to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (16ft). But what influence does Altitude really have on Ball Flight? Let’s fins out:


The Ball flies further in High Altitudes, mainly due to the change in Air Density (which I’ll discuss further in the next section), which decreases as elevation increases. Less Dense air exerts less Drag on the Ball, so it moves more easily through the Air (doesn't cause the Ball to slow down as quickly as it flies), resulting in more Distance.

SIDE NOTE: Gravity also Decreases the further we move away from the Earth's centre (Higher Altitude), but the gravitational change is too small to have any significant effect on the Ball.

You can calculate the Distance gain you will experience (compared to Sea Level) by multiplying the Elevation (in feet) by .00116. e.g. if you're playing in Reno, at 1 mile elevation (5,280 ft.) the Increase is around 6% (5,280 x .00116 = 6.1248). If you normally Drive the Ball 250 yards at sea level, you will likely drive it 265 yards in Reno.

So, as a General rule: A 5000 ft Change in elevation Increases/Decreases Carry by roughly 6% for the Average Male Amateur (less for those with Slower Clubhead speeds and can be up to 10% for those with faster Clubhead speeds)

The Ball doesn’t Spin less at High Elevation. However, because the Air Density is lower it imparts less force on the Ball, and Lift is also Lower. The Ball will also fly Lower, Flatter, Land Shallower and Roll more.

As the Air is less dense at Higher Altitudes and imparts less force on the Ball, it won't Curve (Slice or Hook) as much, which makes it harder to shape shots - that might be a good thing for some ;).

The Shorter the Shot, the Slower the Ball moves through the air, so the effect Elevation has on the Ball is reduced. This means on Short approaches and green-side shots, you don't have to adjust for Elevation.

Learn more by watching this short Video about how Altitude influences Ball Flight from TrackMan University below:

Air Density

Whilst there was a significant difference in the Weather (Wind and Rain) the Players experienced at The Open 2019, there wasn’t much variability with regards to Air Density to factor in. What’s that? Keep reading 😉:


Although Wind and Altitude have much larger affects on Distance, changes in Air Density (aka Weather) can result in Distance gains and losses.

Air Density is made up of 3 fundamental Components: 

  1. Temperature

  2. Humidity

  3. Air Pressure


Denser Air creates more resistance for the Ball. The greater the Air Density, the more Lift & Drag:

  • More Air Density = Ball Flies Higher, Lands Steeper and Carry’s Shorter

  • Less Air Density = Ball Flies Lower, Lands Flatter and Carry’s Further

Learn more about how Air Density influences Ball Flight by watching this short Video from TrackMan University and reading my summary below:

1. Temperature 

Of the 3 elements highlighted that contribute to Air Density (Temperature, Humidity and Air Pressure), this has the greatest influence.

All things equal, a Temperature change of 48°F/4°C to 100°F/38°C results in a 8 yard gain in 6 Iron Distance & a 9 yard gain with the Driver so basically:

  • Warmer = Further

  • Colder = Shorter 

Shock 😉!


As General Rule: A change of 10°F / 5.5°C = A little more than 1 yard of difference

It’s important to state that the above is Temperature alone. Temperature influences other factors such a Clothing changes due to Weather (less garments = easier to Swing faster/Increase Club Head Speed) and Ball elasticity (Warmer = Increased Ball Elasticity/Increased Ball Speed) an result in even bigger increases in Distance.


2. Humidity 

Humidity’s influence is minimal (but important to consider) so it’s unlikely to make noticeable differences to your Ball Flight (no more than 2 Yards of Difference).

  • Higher Humidity = Decreases Air Density, Ball Flies Further

  • Lower Humidity = Increases Air Density, Ball Flies Shorter

3. Air Pressure

As elevation Increases, Air Pressure Decreases, so:

  • High Pressure Weather Systems Increase Air Density

  • Low Pressure Weather Systems Decrease Air Density

Although the Changes are small and are unlikely to make noticeable differences to your Ball Flight (no more than 2 Yards of Difference).


Air Density Summary:

  • Low Air Pressure, High Humidity & Higher Temperatures Decrease Air Density so make the Ball fly Lower & Further

  • High Air Pressure, Low Humidity & Lower Temperatures Increase Air Density so make the Ball fly Higher & Shorter

  • Even in extreme cases, changes in Air Density won’t result in more than an 1 extra/less Club of Distance


Hopefully the above further illustrates the quality of what Team Lowry managed to achieve. Contending with the elements of itself takes real skill, let alone the ability to deal with the pressures of the occasion AND the technical abilities involved to execute the required shots!


I understand much of this info might be more prevalent to Golfers at the higher end of the Skill spectrum, but I believe a good understanding of the Environments influence removes a Key Performance Inhibitor. Ignorance is sometimes bliss, but not when it comes to your Golf Game 😉. Either way I hope you enjoyed it/found it useful?

Here’s a short Summary of my Key findings:

  • Wet Fairways and Greens reduce Roll

  • Strive to hit the Ball lower in the Rain

  • Mud on the Ball reduces Distance. Take an extra club (maybe even a couple of extra clubs if there’s a lot of it) and accommodate for the curve: aim left if there’s Mud on the left & aim right if there’s Mud on the right.

  • Hitting into a Headwind = Ball Flies Higher, Lands Steeper & Carry’s Shorter

  • Hitting into a Tailwind = Ball Flies Lower, Lands Flatter & Carry’s Further

  • A 5000 ft Change in elevation Increases/Decreases Carry by roughly 6% for the Average Male Amateur (less for those with Slower Clubhead speeds and can be up to 10% for those with faster Clubhead speeds)

  • Low Air Pressure, High Humidity & Higher Temperatures Decrease Air Density so make the Ball fly Lower & Further

  • High Air Pressure, Low Humidity & Lower Temperatures Increase Air Density so make the Ball fly Higher & Shorter

  • Even in extreme cases, changes in Air Density won’t result in more than an 1 extra/less Club of Distance

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for Part 4: Go Zones!

Kind regards,

Oliver C. Morton



This article is a result of a Fellow PGA Professional asking me a Question I couldn’t give a solid Answer to (something I really dislike 😉), so, I did some research. What I found was fascinating - so much so I thought it was necessary to share.

His question was:

What’s the Face Angle Margin for Error when Putting?

To clarify, Face Angle is defined as the Direction the Club Face is pointing at the moment of Impact in relation to the Target. Face Angle is 90% responsible for the Balls Launch Direction (Launch Direction: Horizontal Direction the Ball Launches in relation to the Target). If the terms I’ve just used are totally Alien, have no fear, I’ve included a ‘Jargon Buster’ at the end to help 👍🏻.

Photo Courtesy of The Lost Art of Golf

Photo Courtesy of The Lost Art of Golf

So, we know a Golf Hole is wider than a Golf Ball (4.25in / 10.795cm vs 1.68in / 4.267cm) meaning we have a certain “Window” (aka Margin for Error) we can Roll the Ball through in order for it to go in the Hole. But how big is that Window? Well, as with most things in Golf; it depends!

I alluded to some research earlier and fortunately I didn’t have to look far from Home.

As some of you may know, I’m based at the wonderful Archerfield Performance Centre and fortunately so is Gary Nicol. Gary is a veteran European Tour Coach and a fellow TrackMan Master (making Archerfield the only Facility in Europe that has 2 TrackMan Masters, just sayin’ 😉). 

He frequently collaborates with one of Europe’s finest Performance Coaches, Karl Morris, famed in the Golf World for his work with Louis Oosthuizen (Google “St Andrews, Red Dot”). Together they have written a best selling Book “The Lost Art of Putting” (it’s technically a Putting Book but I feel it’s benefits stretch far beyond a persons ability to use the ‘Short Stick’). So all I really had to do was knock on Gary’s door and ask a few questions (as I often do). His response: “Read the Book Oli.”

So, I did (and I highly recommend you do too. Pick up a copy HERE), and I didn’t have to read for long (26 pages to be exact) to get my Answer.

After leafing those initial pages I came across Niklas Bergdahl’s piece On “TrackMan Performance Putting”. Those 8 pages have completely changed the way I Coach Putting (and left me feeling mildly frustrated that I’ve been focussing on the least important aspects of Putting Performance for the last 10 years 🤦🏼‍♂️). It also answered my Associates Question. 



Here’s what I discovered (please note that much of the below is pulled straight from Niklas’ piece in The Lost Art Of Putting, with a little of my interpretation - don’t want to be getting any undue credit 😉):

It’s pretty common knowledge in the Golf World that there’s 3 Key Skills to being a Technically Proficient Putter (there’s obviously other Major Factors at play such as Mental and Emotional Skills + Tactical Awareness in order for someone to be a ‘World Class’ Putter), they are:

  • Start Direction/Line: Being able to start the Ball on your intended line

  • Pace: Hitting the Ball the appropriate Distance

  • Green Reading: The ability to predict how the Ball will roll on the Green aka Situational Awareness

It’s also common for people to believe the most important aspect to get right, and spend most of your Practice time improving is Start Direction/Line. What follows might change that.

Assuming someone’s ability to Read the Green is sufficient (big assumption I know 😉) , their ability falls to getting the Pace/Distance & Line right. This leads us to 3 Key Putting Technical Parameters a Player has to Optimise in order to Hole a Putt:

  1. Launch Direction: Horizontal Direction the Ball sets off on in relation to the Target/Start Line

  2. Initial Ball Speed: Speed of the Ball off the Club Face just after Impact

  3. Launch: Distance to the Balls first touch to the ground and how much Skid (rapid deceleration of Ball Speed, which increases Distance variability - influenced by Launch Conditions & Surface Type) and Roll (where the Balls rotation (peripheral speed) matches the velocity of the Ball, causing steady deceleration). We need some Launch as the Ball sits in a small impression when static on the Green.

But what to focus on first? What to spend most of your Practice time on? The below info from TrackMan will help to Answer that (the info on the left side in particular). It’s important to state the below table relates to the angular error on a Straight Putt (no Break). The variables that have the greatest influence on Putter Face Margin of Error are Green Gradient and Angle:

In short: the firmer you hit the Putt (higher Entry Speed) the smaller the effective Hole size, thus the lower tolerance on Launch Direction – which is 90% determined by Face Angle.

So, every Putt has a Window of Ball Speeds (or a Margin of Error - see what I did there 😉), this creates a ‘Cone’ of possible Lines that enable the Ball to be holed. The longer Distance to the Hole, the smaller the Launch Direction Window/Cone and vice versa, see below: 

More Pace results in less Break, so the Launch Direction will be closer to the Hole compared to the lower Ball Speeds. This also makes the effective Hole size smaller, plus leaves a longer Distance for the next Putt should it not go in. On the other hand, the lowest Speed possible requires a Launch Direction further away from the Hole compared to faster Speeds.

The slower Speed strategy will result in the largest effective Hole size as the Ball would reach the Hole with as low a Speed as possible, making it more likely to drop in the Hole (as long as it reaches the hole 😉). An important consideration is that even though this ‘Dead Weight’ Pace could be argued as the ideal Speed, as it creates the largest effective Hole size, the Ball is more susceptible to Green inconsistencies as it reaches the Hole, plus the risk of leaving it short is higher.

Focus on an Entry Speed of 1.68 mph / 0.7 ms. This would still be considered on the ‘low side’ of the Launch Window, results in an effective Hole size of 74% and creates a Roll out of 1.5 feet past the hole (Stimp being 10) - matching Direction with this Speed is obviously required. This approach is less aggressive and lowers the possibility of a long return Putt if missed - meaning you’re less likely to ‘3 Putt’.

Ultimately there are combinations of Launch Directions and Speeds that can make the Ball go in the Hole. Even with unintentional error in Direction and Speed, the Ball can still go in the hole using a different Line than was intended (think of those Putts you thought were crap but still went in 👍🏻).

Question = Answered 😉

How to Use this Info?

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  • Golf is what the Ball does: Prioritise Ball Control over Stroke (and Swing) perfection.

  • If you truly don’t know how the Green will influence the Direction and Distance of the Putt, you should never allow yourself to question your club delivery. Add uncertainty and lack of commitment and any proper Technique will breakdown.

  • The first considerations should be Green Reading; being able to determine situational tendencies, as well as Green inconsistencies (understanding of situation and its influence) i.e Effective Situational Interpretation / Prediction.

  • Crucial elements of Putting Performance come down to the Players ability to predict:

  1. The Effective Stimp

  2. The Speed needed to reach the Hole with the desired Entry Speed

  3. The amount of Break their chosen Speed will lead to, thus determining the required Launch Direction

  • These elements need to be Practiced in order to reduce Club delivery variability and skilful understanding of how to effectively predict the Balls interaction with the ground. This leads to a Player obtaining a high capacity of predictability and adaptability to a given situation. The skill of adaptability is fundamental to Performance; Golf is played with a big factor of randomness (I discussed this in my previous Blog on Failure).

  • Players need to practice Start Direction/Line at different Putt lengths and Paces, not to see how good their Stroke is, but to asses their ability to determine Situational Influence.

  • Ball Speed at the Hole is more important than the exact roll-out, as the latter is determined by the effective Stimp of the Green - GOLF IS WHAT THE BALL DOES!

  • Beware artificial Greens as they are different to the real thing. Most don’t effectively simulate real grass, so the Ball will behave differently. Even on real grass the conditions vary, so a Player & Coach must process good knowledge of how certain Green conditions influence outcome.

  • With this in mind, compare Speed, Skid, Roll, Break and Distance outdoors vs indoors. This gives a good indication of how well you can adapt to different surface conditions (especially the Skid & Roll differences). Practicing in different conditions gives you a great perspective on the true quality of your Performance.

  • Stop focusing excessively on wether you hole the Putt or not. Effective coordination between Speed and Direction can still make the Ball go in, even if it wasn’t executed according to the your Intention. That’s not to say you should never Practice to a Hole, the point is that you need accurate feedback on Direction, Speed, Skid, Roll and Break before you can truly assess if the Putt was executed according to the Intention - get yourself booked in for a Putting Session with your local TrackMan Certified Professional!



In short:

  • Golf is what the Ball does! Prioritise Ball Control over Stroke (and Swing) perfection.

  • Pace is King. It determines your Line/Launch Window/Margin of Error/Club Face Angle Tolerance.

  • The variables that have the greatest influence on Putter Face Margin of Error are Green Gradient and Angle.

  • Slower Pace = Increased Chance of the Ball going in. Focus on an Entry Speed of between 0.01mph and 1.68mph. Use what works best for you though!

  • Practice with Variability (hit lots of different Putts from lots of different places vs hitting the same Putt over and over). Adaptability will forge your Putting. If you want help with this check out my Connected Coaching Programme.

  • Buy a copy of The Lost Art or Putting, and book yourself into one of Gary & Karl’s Workshops!

I hope you’ve found the above information useful and insightful?

p.s. Please find my Jargon Buster below.

Thanks for reading!

Oliver C. Morton

The Leading Edge Golf Company

Jargon Buster


Face Angle: The Horizontal Direction the Club Face is pointing at the moment of impact in relation to the Target

Launch Direction: Horizontal Direction the Ball Launches in relation to the Target  

Distance: The total Distance the Ball travels in a straight line from the starting point 

Initial Ball Speed: Speed of Ball off the Putter Face (consistent = good launch Control)

Ball Speed is determined by:

  1. Club Speed (primarily determined by forward swing time and stroke length)

  2. Impact Location

  3. Club Head Weight + COR (Coefficient of Restitution)

Stimp: Amount of friction the surface will impart on the Ball (High = Less, Low = More)

Skid: Rapid deceleration of Ball Speed & Increased Distance variability (influenced by Launch Conditions & Surface Type)

Skid Distance is determined by the Ball Speed, Launch Angle, Launch Spin, Green Conditions and effective Stimp. This is determined by Club Speed, Dynamic Loft and Impact Location

Roll: Where the Balls rotation (peripheral speed) matches the velocity of the Ball. Roll Speed is a consequence of the Ball Speed and Skid Distance

Roll %: The amount of Roll on the Total Putt Distance

Roll Out: Total Distance the Ball would travel (if not holed)

Speed Drop: amount of Ball Speed lost due to Skid Phase

Break: the amount of side movement (Left or Right) in relation to the Launch Direction (More Ball Speed = Less Break, Less Ball Speed = More Break)

Entry Speed: pace the Ball enters the Hole (Slower = Larger Target, Faster = Smaller Target)

Entry Point: The part of the Hole the Ball enters