When playing a round of golf, one of the quickest ways to win or lose is to make or miss a 3 foot putt. Several misses like this can cause even Tiger Woods to snap a putter in half or toss it in the lake.
The influence of break
can have on a short putt
is usually determined by the type of grass on which you are putting. In America there are three usual grasses used for greens: Bermuda, Poa annua and Bent grass.
I live in the South
where most courses went through a period of trying Bent Grass even when the climate did not suit such grass. The reason it was tried was because Bent grass putts so smoothly. It putts so smoothly that a spike mark can throw it off line. That is why you see so many golfers wearing "soft spikes" ( a rubber spider-looking things, compared to the metal spikes still worn by most pros). When it's happy, Bent grass makes for the perfect putting surface. To make it happy requires three things; a cool climate, a lot of mist, and a constant wind flow. There's not much we can do about the climate, at least that is my political position, it likes to be moist but not drenched, so even though it would be cheaper to put in a watering system around the green, that would result in drenching, so the greens keepers' minions were tasked each scorching day with using a hose to spray the greens with a gentle mist (usually referred to as ”syringing”), and fans are often installed in protected areas in order to supply the wind flow needed. So when it came to a place like Florida where there are thousandsupon upon thousands of golf courses, two things happened.
New strains of Bermuda were invented and the Bent grass greens were removed and replaced.
These strains of Bermuda have come to be the choice for green coverings in most of the South.
The worst greens I ever putted on were Poa annua on a course overlooking San Francisco Bay. Missing 3-footers became the norm and I was pissing mad by the time the round was over. That's not fun. The joke down here is that the seeds of Poa annua will stick to your shoes and you'll ruin your nice zoysia lawn by infecting it with those seeds. It's a weed down here.
If the putt breaks from left to right and the low side of the whole is on the right your usual miss would be on the lower side, to the right. This would be called the “amateur side.” If you miss it on the high side to the left, that would be called the “Pro" side.
These two appellations probably came about from what an old guy told me one day after I missed on the amateur side. He said, "Mathematicians say that 90% of those that don't get to the hole do not go in. It is quite true that if you're on the high side, and the putt is breaking left to right, there is a possibility that it could hit a spike mark or a wind gust that would cause it to fall in." When you hit a putt too lightly and if it doesn't get much more than halfway to the hole, you run the risk of your playing partners making a remark such as, "Does your husband play?" It's very embarrassing to lose a few bucks to strangers who fail to hit it out of their own shadow half the time.