Have you ever wondered how the best players in the world routinely make 15, 20, even 30 foot putts from week-to-week? Most players are not consistent enough to make putts from hole-to-hole. Well, what's the difference? The best putters in the world have a routine that they utilize to be more consistent in terms of putting. Here's what they do, followed by how you can do it too:
1) Mark the ball. As soon as you reach your ball, mark it. This allows you the opportunity to clean your ball and collect your thoughts.
2) Read the putt from behind the hole. This is the most critical perspective for determining the line, but not the only criteria.
3) Walk around to the other side of the hole. While walking to the other side, take in the terrain. Is it uphill, downhill, sidehill? Do you notice a difference in grain, any impediments in the way, which way is the cup sitting (i.e. slanted), etc.? This also allows you to feel the distance of the putt.
3) Read the putt from behind the hole. This allows you to analyze the break from a different angle. Compare it to the read that you got from behind the ball.
4) Walk back to your ball on the side opposite that you walked to hole. This allows you to get a 360 degree view/feel of your putt.
5) Place your ball, lining up the words on the line you have chosen. Self-explanitory.
6) Take several practice strokes focusing on the speed only. Imagine, if you are right-handed and you play golf right-handed, that you are rolling the ball to the hole with your right hand. This is similar to the firmness of your putting stroke.
7) Once you determine the correct speed at which to hit the ball, step up to the ball, line the putter up to the pre-determined line, and focus on speed.
This, or a variation of it, is the routine most great players use. It allows them to compartmentalize putting into analyzing the overall putt, determining the line, determining the speed, and executing without doing it all at one time. Also, it can be done quickly. It sounds like a long process, but once you get the hang of it, you can perform the steps very quickly. And don't let your playing partners deter you from going to the extra effort of walking around the hole. Before long, they'll be doing it too (after they see your results).