Which is more important when putting, line or speed? If you ask a 100 golfers, most will choose speed as the most important. They suggest that hitting the ball with the correct speed is the only way to make sure we lower our golf scores most of the time. Personally, I am not convinced and here is why.
During the poll above, I found it extremely interesting to read many of the comments relating to which is more important, line or speed. The back and forth between Holmer and MM Golf Studios on Twitter is especially fun to read. Regardless on your point of view, they concluded that both are important, yet could not agree on whether line or speed was king.
The ‘pro side’ in putting refers to the side of the hole that is higher in elevation. As you can see in the picture below, as the ball approaches the hole, there is a break from right to left; hence the right side is the ‘pro side’. It is very important we can recognize the ‘pro side’ when putting.
Keep the picture above in mind for the following paragraph, it will offer a strong visual perspective. If I were to miss a putt that has a right to left break, it is generally short and to the left. As a matter of fact, most (and I mean 95%) of missed putts are short and to the left and my return putt is always longer than I had hoped. Over the years, I have always blamed my speed for the misses, but now I am not so sure!
Watch the video below for an explanation on the geometry of putting. I found it fascinating.
According to John Graham, line is more important than speed. To make more putts or even to lag the putts closer, playing more of a break when putting is the smart mathematical thing to do! The more I think about it, I believe this is a great tip and explains so much about my short game.
Here are a couple of other important views on the topic:
The last tweet hits the core of the issue for me. If we are planning to sink the putt (which should be most of the time) then, line has to take priority over speed. If I am playing a lag putt (which is good course management), then speed is definitely key. Line and speed during putting are intertwined, however my vote falls into the line category because I try to make 95% of my putts.
What do you think? Speed or Line?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
Written by Jim Burton from The Grateful Golfer blog.
12 thoughts on “Golf’s Biggest Dilemma – Line vs Speed”
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That conversation with MM Golf Studios was a fun distraction for me. I was on twitter that day to add my voice on our political situation when I saw your survey. So a golf discussion was much more enjoyable and so much less stressful than arguing politics. Especially since I am working against my own party which makes it a bit more personal.
I haven’t changed my mind on the subject and would still choose line if you ran the survey again with no change to the wording. I say that last because the question you asked brought to my mind a straight putt inside of 10-12 feet. Not a 40 foot lag putt or one with a big break. I was thinking what I needed to hole out and not what I need to do to protect against a 3 putt like I would be if I was 40 feet away from the hole.
Where speed is concerned, I used to make the mistake of trying to just get the ball to the hole. I was scared of 3-4 footers coming back. And that fear was due to issues I had with hitting my line. Once I found a way to get line under control, those 3-4 or even 6 footers didn’t scare me neraly as much anymore. I can now comfortably hit the putt with enough speed to rattle the hole. That straightens out small breaks, and I make a lot more putts today than I ever did in the past.
The video you provide just reinforces that with me. It also brings up one thing that wasn’t on your survey. Read. Hitting our line is what we need to make a putt, but getting the right read is the key to great putting.
We are on the same page. I try to make all my putts and line is critical for greater successes while putting. I will take line over speed every time.
Speed is king and here is why. 1 short putts never go in. 2. It would have been interesting to see if the low putt would have gone in if it had been hit with a little more SPEED. 3. The SPEED has to match the line. 4. Granted on a bigger breaking putt once the ball is low your goose is cooked but how many big breaking putts are you going to have during a round. 5 You had better get the speed of the greens down quickly or you are going to have a long day on greens. 6. The speed of the greens are going to vary from course to course and from day to day depending on the conditions and the lawn mower. The break is the break. 7 Once you get the speed down on the greens your job is done the reads are different on every hole some your going to see and some you are not but if speed is good then you won’t be too bad off. But speed is king mainly because of law one, you better get the ball to the hole.
So you think speed is king; well I can see your points, however I believe line is more important. With good line, but speed can be off a bit and I will still make the putt. If my line is off, regardless of speed, I cannot make the putt. For me, trying to sink every putt is paramount to lower scores. Line rules in my short game. Thanks for weighing in.
Jim, line with no speed is often a three-putt. Speed with the wrong line is often a tap in. Given my druthers, I’ll take speed every time.
Not sure I concur with your view. Your thoughts are to play defensively, however, I like to try and make every putt. Sometimes it costs me, however I average score is lower by focusing on line. This is a great topic!
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Jim, to your point, Bob Rotella says that to putt great, you had better love one-putting more than you fear three-putting. That being said, I think line is more important on short putts and on slower greens where you can attack. The farther you move from the hole, speed becomes the top factor, and certainly so on fast greens.
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I guess there is no real wrong answer. Putting is a very personal thing.