Dr. Putt is pleased that you provided enough information from which to deduce likely causes and eliminate unlikely causes. You are obviously a player of some accomplishment; therefore, Dr. Putt will dismiss any notions that you are simply under-reading the break on putts that break right to left. Dr. Putt will assume that this pulling problem does not occur on right to left putts where the break occurs after the ball has begun its path on a flat part of the green. Dr. Putt will also assume that you are not mistaking a putt that falls below the hole because it was struck with too little force with a putt that is pulled. A pulled putt would finish well below the hole but still be about a foot and half beyond the hole. Moreover, it would begin on a path that was well to the left of the intended path--that is, "pulled." Dr. Putt dismisses all these possibilities.
The most important clue is that this pulling only occurs when the ball is above the feet. This situation change your alignment. If you are leaning into the hill, you may be standing closer to the ball than when on a flat surface. This could cause a pulled putt. Make sure that you are the same distance from the ball as when you are on a flat surface. Incidentally, the EOB putting device for play and practice helps ensure that you are a consistent distance from the ball--if you will pardon the plug for the sponsor of this advice column.
Standing facing a hill where you expect the ball to break immediately to the left could also cause you to misalign your feet, shoulders, or most likely, your eyes. You may be looking to the left a little with your eyes to see the hole or break so that the line between your eyes is not longer in the ideal position. The eyes, shoulders, and feet should form a lines that are parallel to the line along which you are initially aimed, as Dr. Putt is certain that you know.
If your putting stroke is on a curve (inside going back and then from inside to on line and back inside on the follow-through) rather than a straight line (as Dr. Putt prefers), it could be that you are playing the ball too far to the left in your stance on right to left breaking putts. Again, make sure that you are playing the ball in the same position as in straight putts.
On the other hand, standing against a slope could lead to balance problems that cause a pulled stroke. You will note that pulls also are the likely error in full shots where the ball is above the feet. Just as balance and posing at the end of the shot is a remedy to pulled full shots, balance and posing is a remedy to pulled putts. Pose at the end of the putt and take careful note to ascertain if the putter head is on a straight line with the intended initial line. Dr. Putt is certain that you have observed that nearly all professionals follow this practice. To help you see that line as you address the ball, you should mark the ball with a short straight line on its surface so that it can be positioned with the line pointing in the intended direction (see Dr. Putt's column on marking the ball to aid in alignment). Again, the EOB device will aid in aligning the putter with the intended path and in observing the actual path of the putter head--please pardon a second commercial plug. If you maintain a solid "athletic" position of balance and finish with the putter on the intended line, you will not pull the putts.
One last possibility. You may have learned to expect failure on these putts and as a result have a tendency toward the dreaded "y" word. The best cure here, other than very costly psychological conditioning, is to eliminate the hands entirely from the swing. As Dr. Putt is certain you are aware, that requires a grip or equipment change. A cross handed grip, the Langer grip, or Dr. Putt's EOB grip, which is a variation on the Langer grip, could all help here. Of coures, the long putter can also be used. But all of these are rather radical cures that could adversely affect the rest of your putting, so Dr. Putt would advise you to try the simple things described above first. And you did request an "easy fix." Nevertheless, you should ensure that your stroke is executed with the shoulders rather than the hands and wrists. If your wrists get overactive because of some nervousness on these putts, you may be releasing them as you stroke the ball. This could cause a pulled stroke. If this is the problem, then you might want to read Dr. Putt's letter on nerves.
Jim, please let Dr. Putt know how these approaches work. All of them involve fundamental putting principles that should help the rest of your putting. They are not just band aids to cover up some underlying flaw. Dr. Putt looks forward to hearing from you.
back to Dear Dr. Putt index