Uphill and Downhill Putts – Getting the Distance Right

Posted on January 29th, 2018 by Herb Rubenstein

You can think of many reasons why we leave uphill putts short and blow downhill putts way past the hole.  I only see out of my left eye, and because of that, I have studied depth perception as much as I have studied how to hit a flop shot.  Here is a reason for leaving uphill putts short and hitting downhill putts way past the hole you may not have thought about.

On an uphill putt, the hole looks like, and is actually closer (vertically and even horizontally) to your eyes than on flat putts.  This makes the hole look closer than it is and your eyes tell your brain to hit the putt softer than it would if the hole looked like it did on a flat putt.  No matter how hard you think, get it to the hole, your eyes set you up with a bias before you every hit the ball and that bias is to hit it too soft and leave it short of the hole.

Conversely, on a downhill put, the hole looks like, and is actually further (vertically and even horizontally) from your eyes than on flat putts. This makes the hole look further than it is and your eyes tell your brain to hit the putt harder than it would if the hole looked like it did on a flat putt.  No matter how hard you think, don’t hit this past the hole, your eyes set you up with a bias before you every hit the ball and that bias is to hit it too hard and well past the hole.

Now that you know this, for uphill putts, pick a target PAST THE HOLE, and set a goal to hit that ball to that target.  For downhill putts, pick a target SHORT OF THE HOLE, and set a goal to hit that ball no farther than to that target.  As Dawn Mercer, Director of Golf Instruction at Innisbrook Golf and Spa says,

“When a putt breaks or is uphill or downhill, the hole is YOUR GOAL, NOT YOUR TARGET.”

I hope this one eyed golfer’s insight helps you judge distance better on both uphill and downhill putts.

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