Vector Putting Anyone?


I just wanted to bring this putting table to anyone who might have an interest in this subject of Vector Putting which was a book written some time ago by HA Templeton. I have found this putting by the numbers helpful lately and wanted to share how I have been using the table…It is still a work in progress but have been fooled less and less on reading greens.

How to Use the Table on The Fly

  1. Steps are steps you take at 30 inch increments. You need to practice walking with a measuring wheel enough to convince yourself you really can pace steps 30 inches at a time…So when you play first pace off your putt. Ex: 4 Paces
  2. Determine what your green’s slope is in percent…Go to the lowest part of your green as you approach the green. (Maybe this should have been step 1?) Look for the highest point once at the lowest point. Most greens I play are 100 feet in length. If the highest point is lower than a standard putter’s length, then you know that the whole green slopes less than 3%. Take your best guess how far up the putter the highest point is and you now have a good idea of the percent slope of the green. Ex: 1 foot of height.
  3. Now I do some quick math…4 paces minus 1 (1% slope) = 3 inches of break Max for a constant sloping green. If I had 2% slope I add back in the number of paces for a total of 7 inches of break…3% - I add the first 2 columns together to get 10 inches of break…
  4. I determine exactly where I am on the Putting Face Clock with 6 o’clock being straight uphill. Walk up to the hole and hold your putter between your thumb and forefinger. Make small circles with the putterhead and eventually the putterhead will swing close to the gravity fall line as the circles die out.
  5. If I’m straight up the fall-line in this case, I putt the ball at the optimal speed with an addtional 3 inches of length. If I’m at 3 or 9 o’clock then I aim 3 inches higher than a straight putt.

I understand these are very general rules of thumb and many more variables go into this but I’m doing the above mini Aim-Point calculations in my head, not holding up play, and it seems to be helping when I hit a GIR
Vector Table MF Greens small.jpg

How would one account for short poppy type strokes vs long flowing strokes?

Interesting topic, thanks for sharing.

You’re welcome and good question

I’ll have to get back with you with his answer. But I recall that he goes into Initial Velocity, Terminal Velocity, Horizontal Velocity, Rotational Velocity, Total Elapsed Time, Putter head and ball weights, green friction, skidding, etc…very technical book for something written in the '80s.


Pretty insightful stuff considering when it was published.

I attended an Aimpoint Clinic a couple of weeks ago and it’s similar to the approach you’re describing. It’s ALL about finding the fall line at the hole. With that info and a feel for the speed of they green they can pretty much tell you (via a chart… different charts for different green speeds) where your target at the hole is based on your “clock-face position” relative to the fall line. They assume a ball speed that would end up 6 to 12 inches past the cup. Faster greens mean more break for the same relative putt/slope compared to slower greens as gravity has a larger influence on putts rolling at a slower pace.

Finding the fall line is key. Methods they recommend include looking at grain (it ALWAYS grows downhill) and using your feet to sense when you’re walking downhill vs uphill (the transition point being on the fall line). You’ll have to explain “step 4” to me some more… sounds like a useful technique to confirm fall line location.

Tour players know pin locations in advance so finding the fall line and slope grades are simple using a measuring device (e.g. a digital level). Combine that info with AP charts and it’s no wonder you see pro’s make so many putts.


You’re right Robbo

In every orange caddy yardage book they have every green lasered with slopes and fall line arrows…Check out Beth Page Black’s First Green…This is what got me thinking that I needed to come up with something similar I could do as I played.

As far as 4), just dangle your putterhead like you were holding a plumb bob and watch how your putterhead will eventually dampen out (swing straight) along the fall line…Also, you could place a frizzbee upside down over the hole and place a ball on it and the ball will want to roll down the fall line…Keep doing it until it runs true from 12 to 6
1st hole green BethP small.jpg


As far as I can tell, the experiments were done with a mechanical “Perfy” type putting machine. I can’t find much material so far on the Pop/hit Stroke vs. a Long Fluid Paint Brush Feel Stroke. The study wasn’t done with the intent on How-to-Putt but more of focus on what happens to your ball from impact to the end of the stroke when employing a mechanical putting robot that can roll ball very accurately time after time. Then knowing this information what can you do about it in the task of estimating break/making more putts.

He does give some insights saying that the ball will start the Rolling Phase of the putt after it has lost 29% of its initial velocity. So, one might conclude that no matter how you hit it, the Rolling Phase will start at the same velocity drop off point with the same given initial velocities whether it be a pop stroke or long flowing stroke. He does acknowledge that adding top spin or backspin adds/subtracts a small amount to the overall distance. Also the initial Skid Phase stops between 10 & 20% of the length of the putt depending upon the green speed. Also you can read from the last graph that the Stimpmeter putt rolls much further than a real world putt primarily due to the lack of the Skid Phase. The final phase of the putt during the last foot or so is known as the Decay Phase where the ball has more friction on it, sits down in the grass more than the rolling phase, and gravity plays has its most influence on the path of the ball.
GS & IV small.jpg
Skid Phase vs. GS small.jpg
Stimp vs. Mech Putt small.jpg

When i saw the initial chart i thought of Aimpoint. So how does this work on tour? Does Aimpoint laser the greens and slopes and provide the information to the players and their caddies?

TBH - i really wouldnt like this approach AT ALL. It puts everybody (including every amateur) at a disadvantage - and they wouldnt even need to read the greens anymore, they would pick the slope, the distance and the break they had to putt from their chart and then just hit the ball. I´m sorry, but that would make it a complete farce (Gee maybe use an Ipad for “further assistance”?).


Cool topic, indeed food for thought.

But one piece begs for a bit of a tweak:

If your natural pace isn’t 30 inches, you will never make it BE 30 inches. Diddlin’ with a human’s natural gait only ever ends in a train wreck.

Find yourself a known distance of around 100 yards. Football fields are excellent, their length is often accurate to within 1/4 inch, which is WAY more than we need here.

Stand at one end with your heels together, just touching the goal line. Walk to the other end, counting how many paces it takes. Keeping your eyes fixed on a distance object, like the goal post or crossbar, helps a lot.Turn around and do it the other way. Three trips up and down should give you enough data.

In my case, I use CDN football field, which is the same length as a european football ( soccer ) pitch, measuring 110 yards. It takes a bit more (six inches, in this case) than 117 steps to cover that distance. So, (110 x 36) + 6 /117 = 33 15/16 inches.

The reason for this vigour is because a human walking pace is WAY longer than you can comfortabley step. Prove it to yourself; walk at a normal pace for a few yards through sand or (shudder, it’s only weeks away) light snow. Then loop back, place your right foot in a right side footprint, bring your heels together, then try and step to the next left footprint. You will either fall, jump, or start to walk. You won’t be able to reach it by steping.

Or, if you just jumped to the last line, if you are a guy and you can fit into off the rack clothes, your walking pace is within an inch either way of 34 inches.



I’m not totally sure, but I believe that when you see the Aimpoint stuff on TV (“X” marks the spot and they show the line from the ball to the hole) they have used the high-dollar machine to laser and digitally map the green. I’m guessing the Bethpage chart Mashie showed was also produced similarly. Anyone with that map is at a decided advantage and my guess is every pro and his caddie has it when available. (Again… I think that’s a key reason why we see so many putts made during televised broadcasts).

The clinic I went to was more about green-reading in general. I’m not so good at reading greens and as serious as I am about my golf I decided it was high time I got educated on it. As I mentioned it’s all about knowing where the “fall line” is at the hole. It’s essentially the straight uphill or downhill putt at the hole location (there is only 1 for a tilted planar surface… crowns and saddles are a different animal). Once you have that and if you know the green speed and the grade of the slope, then they do indeed have a chart you can refer to for break amounts for putts up to 20 feet away. It’s mainly “perfect world” stuff, but it gives you a starting point if nothing else. You still have to stroke the putt on-line with the correct speed, but I think it instills some additional confidence in your stroke to have an idea of what the putt is likely to do.

Again, it’s all predicated on locating the fall-line. If I’m playing in a tournament and I know in advance where they plan to cut the pins (usually a small spot of paint you can find during the practice round), then locating the fall-line is simple… just put a digital level on that spot and see which direction it points and how steep is it. If I’m playing a course with no advance prep (most of my golf), then you have to develop your skills in locating that fall line on the fly and being able to estimate it’s location and the severity of the grade.

Too early to tell how much benefit I’ll get from this but I already feel like I have a better idea of what to do once I get to the green.


Putting to me, has always been a very elusive mysterious thing that has been difficult to nail down. Much more so than ball striking. To me I feel there are more moving variables due to the ball rolling around on a grass surface that changes week to week, day to day, and even hour to hour. From the dew swept morning greens to the dried out baked afternoon spiked up stuff.

A drive or an iron shot struck slightly off line can still find the fairway or the green. Yet a putt struck offline is much more likely to cost you a shot inside 15 feet than an 8 iron that varies 10 feet in it’s arrival position on the green.

I might learn something by playing a round and comparing my score in two ways.
The first way I simply putt my first putt.
The second way, I putt 5 putts from the initial spot on the green, then only count the 6th putt.

The question would be… how much do I really learn from seeing the putt 5 times in advance of hitting it? Learning the line, break, speed… is this enough to make a difference? I think it would… but how much? Surely I am not going to make the 6th putt every time regardless. How many times would I make the first one and miss the 6th?

Again, this would not be I get 6 tries at it… only the 1rst and 6th putts would be compared on the scorecard.

When I was on tour, I was amazed how many times I would see a competitor make every putt inside 15 feet for an entire round. It really was not that uncommon. Especially with some of the poorer ball strikers. I always felt like I was spotting the top putters at least 3 shots a round. For me to pick that up with ball striking was not impossible, but could be difficult. If a player is getting it up and down 70% of the time… I have to basically hit every green to tie them. Usually they would find a hazard or an OB that would level things… but that became less and less as courses moved away from trees and more penalizing driving conditions over the years.

I still would rather be a good ball striker that leaves 5 or 6 makeables out there and shoot 70 than be the guy who has to rely upon putting to make everything to shoot 70. The poor strikers are never really going to take it low.

Getting back on topic here… I wonder really how much the laser maps, and all this would make a difference with some of the guys I played against that just filled up the cup all day long. I feel those guys just had great instinct, read greens superbly, and had phenomenal feel for speed and rock solid putting strokes that sent the ball on their chosen line in a machine like manner.

Hey Guys/Girls (who might be viewing),

Here’s the link with all the yardage books…As you can read the new TV courses have the greens lasered like the sample I posted earlier.

Mashie, I got a bunch of those from the ‘older days’!!!
Many are of courses they still play today (Riviera/Colonial/PGA West…even have one for Augusta)
I think a bunch of them have yardages written in by the caddie or myself also…which would be fun to compare with all the bomb & gouge stuff of today and note the difference in actual length of holes then and now due to course designers adding tees every 5 minutes to make the course longer

I think they even did some green books in high detail back then…I remember having one for Doral…but putted awful using it…!! so I trashed that idea and went by feel instead…TooMuchInformation #$%@!$^

“Just Be The Ball,Danny…” See…Feel…Be…

Hi hawg,

I enjoy reading your posts.

I don’t disagree with your analysis regarding the longer strides…I just wanted to let you know what this guy found and how to use his matrix. Attached is some supporting information of his basis for 30 inches and I found that 30 inches can be replicated with pratice especially with 50 paces or less. Now for me it’s 8 paces and 7 inches of break for a 1% slope and don’t even bother converting it to feet/meters or whatever…And go with it.
Sride Calc small.jpg


Mea Culpa. I was pulling data from a lifetime ago. But I do remember my pace was longer than 30 inches. However, a couple of clicks on the intarwebz confirm
your 30 inch number is right. I should not have interjected at 99 per cent sure, shoulda waited for 100 per cent… .

Now I have to go through boxes AGAIN (no fun after a move) and find the notebook … .

I appologize. I shoulda checked before posting. That was rude, and I’m a bit red faced now.

I am sorry, sir.


Here’s what the author had to say about the moving variables suggesting that the ball should be holed just at the end of the rolling phase

Hawg, No problem

2M, I agree with you about “be the ball”, just turn off your brain and roll the rock as best you can…It’s worked for me for many years too…but this techy info has helped me find out for myself that I might have giving short putts too much borrow and maybe not enough pace for very long gradual uphill (2% grade) putts
optimum terminal velocity small.jpg

Yes, I agree with this statement…I’m sure if I (armed with laser contour/fall-line maps) had a putting contest with Ben Crenshaw, I’m betting he would still most likely beat me. However, as Robbo mentioned I still feel this is a good starting point for reading greens and feel that the Tour is going to figure out a way to really use this knowledge as they play like it or not. In fact I was listening to a replay of the Champions Tour Telecast in the background yesterday and overheard a conversation between Michael Allen and his caddie…Mike says, “I think it’s more like a 1.6 rather than a 1” when looking at a 10-footer. Donna says, “1.6? What are they talking about?” Kurt knew that Michael is using the lasered green slopes and Aim-Point which is based on the Fall-line…Michael lost in a playoff but lead the tournament in putting for the week.

For those who would like to know there is another technical gem in the book called Precession…In fact the author says that the only requirements for a ball to break are gravity, precession and the modern balanced ball. To try to keep things simple, precession can be observed by a couple of examples. One is the Hula Hoop rolling on a hill. If it is rotating quickly, the Hula Hoop will travel is a near straight path across the slope of the hill like a putt does initially. As the hoop slows down it turns towards the fall-line…So watch for that last revolution of your playing partners putt (in case he/she misses). This will provide a confirming clue of the direction of the fall-line…It might not totally turn downhill but key in to the direction of the rotation.

The second example is the rotating bicycle wheel if you somehow could hold the front wheel by the axle with both hands on either side of the wheel and let it spin away from you like a rotating putt. If you rotate the wheel quickly it’s very hard to turn the wheel left or right…Spinning slowly or not at all, it is much easier to turn the wheel left or right…Part 2 of the experiment is to spin the wheel quickly and let go of the wheel with your left hand…The wheel will turn left harder and harder as the wheel slows down…Then do the same experiment but hold the axle with your right hand only again as the wheel spins but this time hold your right hand on the axle and further away from the hub. This will make the wheel turn more quickly than before and much harder to hold straight on course.

So what does this have to do with putting? It make me question my point of contact on the ball in relation to the resistance contact point of the ball in the ground. If I have a dead flat putt then I’m not inducing any extra torque and increasing the amount of precession because my point of contact and the ground the ball sits on are in the same vericle axis. However, if I have a slope left to right my contact point on the ball might not be in-line with the center mass of the ball and therefore induce an added amount of precession. Obviously (to me anyway), this added precession gets greater and greater as the green tilts more & more if not putting straight up/down the fall-line.


I’ve always thought of Michael Allen as a top notch ball striker, who really was not all that great on the greens. It doesn’t surprise me to see him searching the latest offerings to get back into the game. I think he had a great year, last year or the year before… winning the Senior PGA Championship.

If you can’t putt really well, you’re more or less doomed to journeyman status out there… and that was probably the main reason I retired when I did. I saw the crystal ball, and it was not rolling into the cup as often as needed.

Michael is one of the guys from my generation that has really grinded it out all these years, and all the power to him. He’s a top shelf guy, and just loves the game. His success could not be more deserved or happen to a nicer guy. I’ve always loved his golf swing, even back when we played a lot together in college. He was up at Nevada Reno with Kirk Triplett. I always thought if Kirk could putt for Mike you’d have one mind boggling golfer.

Paulsy and I were having a conversation last week about whether or not yardage books should be allowed in the game. Obviously they are, but they certainly could have been banned from the game decades ago. Should judging the distances
be an integral part of the game? It used to be. Are you allowed to bring notes or cheat notes into an exam at the university? Your supposed to memorize stuff. So that you learn something.

I loved the quote from “The Three Cushion Master” (slipping my mind) about using the feel muscle. We certainly do it around the greens, lag putting and chipping.

It’s something we will be considering in future TRGA events.


This is valuable information. I can think of so many short putts I’ve had on severe slopes (probably grades of 2-3% and greater) that I missed badly on the amateur side as the ball always seemed to start moving to the low side immediately upon impact (as if it was coming sideways off the putterface). I’m thinking it’s the phenomena you’ve described that I’m not taking into account.

Thanks for posting it,


You’re welcome Robbo

Yes that’s the putt I have in mind and the 10:30 downhill slider that you can never seem to make no matter how many re-putts …An ounce more and it goes on the high side of the hole and an ounce less it misses on the low side…Added torque with more precession might be the cause. Also an unbalanced ball will wonder off too even though today the balls are much better balanced right out of the sleeve.

I really always want the feeling I am striving to make the putt and that I have a chance to make it, but
do we need to realistically acknowledge there are some extremely unlikely putts or even impossible putts?

Would the difficulty of making a 10:30 slider mean I should assume a likely miss and plan for making a best miss to optimize the comeback putt position?

I don’t think anyone advocated planning to miss to optimize the come back, but are there justifiable circumstances?

Maybe taking more control of a higly likely miss has advantages. For example, significant slope differences off a humpback on the other side of a missed hole could leave a miss on one side much worse than a miss on the other and may even imply an imperceptable humpback near the hole on the fall line that could increase the likelihood of a miss or even guarantee a miss. That case could promote misjudgment and sabotage the putt with a worse comeback than with a definite, decisive miss to the other side.

Are there putts so difficult or impossible that we should plan our miss to optimize the comeback?