Here is an update on my putting formula. I thank all the bright players (like WeidaDeNei, Longwedge, Kaloke, strikereasy, AccurateDriver, turbo08, JimbeauC, solsen1985, pillsy, YankeeJim, MBaggese, saltiresfan, Woodoworkery, and GARRYCARTER) who contributed their valuable comments to this formula, in response to my initial post on the subject, in a previous thread.
You should know from the outset that my formula, however daunting it may appear at first, can become second nature with practice, or a mental routine one goes through for every putt. Mind you, in multiplayer games, the timer can force a compromise or best guess, which will likely yield mixed results.
Now for the break. The purpose of gauging it is to end up with an accurate distance number, according to which the flag will be moved sideways, to the higher side of the hole.
This act of gauging is by far the most difficult part of the calculation. To do it accurately, we must determine the number of parallel lines on the putting grid between us and the hole, and assign a numerical value to the white dots that move along each line, as they indicate the topography, or surface configuration, of the green. To that effect, experience and observation, together with memory, are essential, not to mention the necessary willingness to bother gauging the break accurately in the first place. Weariness and laziness lead to sloppiness, which in turn produces mediocre results, or worse. I know that all too well, as I myself am guilty of such weakness at times. But I have old age and physical disability as an excuse. I'm sure you have your own excuse, defensible in your own eyes. Be that as it may, the result in all cases is the same: don't do the math, be off the path = dismal putting.
You may find reassuring that suncity28 (a top legend) has confirmed to me that his approach is similar to mine, and his superior feel of the putts comes from a long experience of making the right gauge, based on the moving dots indicating break.
Still, some may choose to lower their standards and settle complacently for a lesser, but more relaxed and playful performance, as virtual golf is after all only a game. But others, while acknowledging that sobering fact, choose to abide nonetheless by the highest standards, and go to great lengths to perform brilliantly. Ask the best golfers on wgt and find out for yourself what pains they take to outshine the competition. Their fun is all about pride.
Among the first -- more "relaxed and playful" -- group of players, many resort to an off ding approach. If you're happy with that, so be it. I impose nothing, only propose, with a help-minded attitude. Perhaps very few highly motivated players, who do not mind being technical to have the edge, will derive some benefit from my post.
Note that so far, in practice, my formula has proven solid, and yet leaves room for human error, in gauging and execution.
Indeed, the formula works to the extent that your initial gauge and break value are accurate, not to mention the difficult, but necessary "ding" when striking the ball. Likewise, the rational treatment of an hypothesis, however sound or logical it is, doesn't guarantee truth. Only the consistency of this hypothesis with reality does.
Mind you, the greens on wgt are often tough to read, especially when the front and reverse views are oddly different, or even contradictory, which is a real put off. I tend to rely predominantly on the front view, while taking the reverse view into consideration.
As a starting guideline, use the following chart, after having observed a watch (http://www.online-stopwatch.com), and internalized the pace of ticking seconds. The dots amount to 0 break when they are stationary along a given line. Slow dots may be counted as 1/2 or 1/3, or even less, depending on their relative slowness. Same goes for faster dots, which can go from 1, moderate, to faster and faster, with corresponding higher numerical values.
10 seconds = 1
8s = 2
6s = 3
4s = 4
2s = 5
I personally begin to count halfway to shorten the process. For instance, I assign the numerical value 1 to dots moving at a pace of 5 seconds along half the break line.
The line crossing the flag, like the one crossing the ball, is part of the relevant path to the hole and must be counted. Sometimes the line is a bit behind the ball or beyond the flag, and that has to fit in our estimate, adding subtlety to it.
I suggest that you toggle between pitch or chip view and putt view to see the break from two different angles. This is a worthwhile effort, started by no less than BolloxinBruges (see youtube video).
Say for example that there are 7 parallel lines between you and the hole, with the following pattern: 1-1-2-2-3-4-3 (the bigger the number, the greater the break).
img.php?image=014688224 Puttingillustration 122 561lo.jpg (click the back arrow or backspace to return to this post after having viewed the illustration).
a) You add these numbers; the total is 16.
b) You take the stated distance between you and the hole: 13 feet, and adjust this number by factoring in the slope. In this example the slope is 6 inches downwards (shown by the color red on the grid, whereas black shows a flat surface and blue an upward one). You add this number of inches to the number of feet, which gives the number 19.
If the slope were upwards, you would subtract the number of inches from the number of feet, instead of adding it to the latter.
c) You multiply 19 (adjusted distance) by 16 (break value). The total is 304.
d) You divide 304 by the number of parallel lines between you and the hole; i.e., 7. The total is 43.43. That amounts to the initial distance number by which you must move the flag sideways, to the higher side of the hole. Note -- and this is crucial -- that I attribute the numerical value 30 to the width of each square in the putting grid.
e) In a flat or upward putt, the above calculation and displacement should suffice; that is, the ball should go in the hole or be very close, if you perfectly execute the putt (ding!). But in my example, the downward slope adds a new dimension that must be taken into account. You must determine the fraction that the slope (6 inches) and the stated distance (13 feet) together represent: 6/13 = 1/2.16. You then multiply 43.43 by this fraction (43.43 X 1/2.16 = 43.43/2.16), and add the product of this multiplication (20.11) to 43.43, which gives 63.54. That is the final number by which you must move the flag sideways, to the higher side of the hole. Again note that I attribute the numerical value 30 to the width of each square in the putting grid.
As if things were not complicated enough, there is yet another adjustment that needs to be done for putts whose stated distance between the hole and the ball is 6 or under 6 feet. When the surface is flat or upward, you can reduce the displacement of the flag sideways, relative to the break, by a quarter for 6 or near 6 foot putts, and by half for 5 or less foot putts. When however the surface is downward, you can only reduce the displacement in question marginally, if at all, especially on speedy greens.
Let us now tackle the issue of power. As a rough guideline (each course is somewhat different, Oakmont being the fastest), consider the following:
Adjust the distance when gauging power by factoring in the slope differently than when gauging break. If the surface is flat, no adjustment is necessary, and the stated distance prevails. Otherwise, the number of sloping inches is added to the stated distance (measured in feet) or subtracted from it, depending on whether the slope is upwards or downwards. In my above example, we subtract 6 from 13, and obtain 7 feet as an adjusted distance.
Slow greens: add 1/4 to stated or adjusted distance.
Standard greens: add 1/6 to stated or adjusted distance.
Fast greens: stated or adjusted distance.
Very fast greens: subtract 1/6 from stated or adjusted distance.
Tournament greens: subtract 1/4 from stated or adjusted distance.
Championship greens = tournament greens, only a tad faster.
I recommend that you putt beyond the hole somewhat to avoid the ball sluggishly veering off the predicted putting line as it nears the hole. But be careful! Wildly overshooting the target can set you up for a difficult par, or worse, a bogey, which is maddening after a failed birdie attempt.
I must add that very long putts require an additional adjustment, where the end power value (measured in feet) must be reduced by a number of feet. Again, each course is somewhat different, and must be experimented on.
Lastly, there is no doubt in my mind that some of the motivated players using my formula will do better than I in the actual context of putting, due to a better ability to attribute an accurate numerical value to the break, combined with a better ability to ding the putts. Indeed, students will often surpass their teachers, and the disabled old me welcomes that natural development.
I wish you all the best!