How to hit the brakes on downhill putts

The greens at Erin Hills will be lightning fast, making putting from above the hole an adventure for even the best putters at this month’s U.S. Open. While the greens you play are probably less slick, you still need to be careful when putting downhill. Here are a couple of keys to assure that your next downhill putt either goes in or leaves you with a no-stress tap-in.


First, grip down on the handle so that your bottom thumb is nearly touching the steel portion of the shaft. This gives you more control over the putterhead and helps slow it down, producing a much softer roll. Avoid any sudden acceleration to your stroke—you want the putter to move back and through at a gentle, even pace.


Set up to the putt with the ball opposite the heel of the putter, not the toe. The heel area helps deaden impact and create the softest roll possible. You’ll also have more control over the putterface and the ball’s starting direction, since the heel is where the shaft connects to the hosel and is sturdier than the toe.

Whatever you do, stay away from the toe of the putter when rolling the ball downhill. The heel area is generally closer to the puttershaft, which adds stability to your stroke.

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