The Putting Clock

Scott Sackett
Director of Instruction
McCormick Ranch Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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We all want to make more putts, and do so from every length. There are many theories out there regarding how to improve your putting stroke and perhaps drills which help with distance or directional control. What I’ve found is there isn’t a whole lot in putting you can take from the practice green out to the course which helps right away.  

Something simple, which could be extremely useful for visual learners, is by picturing the area around the hole as a clock. You can take this immediately from the practice tee to the course and begin seeing gains in your putting.  

In the #1 image, you’ll see the basic clock layout with 12, 3, 6 & 9 laid out with a straight line going from 12 to 6 and 3 to 9, forming a 90-degree angle in the cup.  

When assessing your ball on the green and finding it’s relation to the clock, you’ll want to look for where the uphill straight putt is. That is ALWAYS 6:00 on the clock. This is called the fall line or zero line. 3:00 is 90 degrees right to left and 9:00 is 90 degrees left to right. 12 typically would be a straight downhill putt.  

When out on the course, this assessment can be performed quickly using your feet to feel the ground. The ball will always break towards the fall line, regardless of its position in the clock. Keep in mind, the farther away from the hole the ball gets, the more likely it will be that other parts on the green (crowns, shoulders, drainage lines) will influence how the ball breaks. You can still always look for fall line on longer putts to gain knowledge or insight as to how the ball might break as it approaches the hole.  

When practicing, lay out 12 balls at each time and start at 6pm working your way around clockwise or counterclockwise (your preference). In our example (#2 Image), if we work our way counterclockwise (6, 5, 4, 3, etc) around the clock, you’ll find that the closer the ball is to the fall line (on either side), the less it breaks and the closer the ball is to 90 degrees to the fall line, the more the ball will break.  

This is a simple, easy and fun way to practice putting and something which, if you implement while playing, you’ll see immediate gains on the course.

Scott Sackett, GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher since 1999, just voted as one of Golf Digest’s Best Teacher in the State for the fifth year in a row. Also Director of Instruction at Park Meadows CC in Park City Utah and while in Scottsdale he teaches at McCormick Ranch Golf Club. If you would like to get a hold of Scott you can contact him through his website at