(Editor’s Note: David Leadbetter is one of the top instructors in the world of golf, and the new virtual golf instructor on WGT, providing his personalized tips exclusively for WGT players about real world and virtual golf.)
Putting is hands down the most important component of a well-rounded golf game, and is as much a mental act as a physical one.
Prior to hitting a putt, top players collect as much information as they can about the entire green, and more specifically, the area between the ball and the hole. Your eyes are an essential tool in determining how a ball will react on the putting surface. Real world golfers have trained their eyes to recognize how a green slopes by observing what is in front of them, and are able to recognize the changes in elevation, the subtle slopes and ultimately the ideal line to the hole. While playing a real round or a virtual round on WGT, train your eyes to constantly pay attention to these slopes.
In virtual golf, WGT makes gathering this information easier, by displaying the exact distance and elevation, and placing a virtual grid on the green that shows changes in slope, elevation and speed. As you're looking at the grid, remember that blue is uphill, red is downhill and black is flat. Likewise, the speed of the dots on the grid helps to show the amount of break. How a putt breaks is directly correlated to how much power is used. When choosing a line to putt along, make sure to factor in how hard or soft you intend to hit the ball. I've found that like in real golf, less experienced players seem to play too little break or hit a putt firm enough, leading to a miss "below" the hole. Better players tend to play more break and hit their putts firmer, giving themselves a better chance of making the putt.
However, putting in virtual golf is clearly just as challenging as real golf, as there are many factors to consider, and you must get them all right to get the ball in the hole. Practice is essential in improving both real and virtual putting. Try playing WGT's Best Of Putting course for 9 challenging long putts on different courses.
One of my other favorite discoveries on WGT is the Reverse View, where you switch the putting view to behind the hole looking back at yourself putting. Changing the view will increase the likelihood of an accurate read and makes it easier to see the break, especially on downhill putts. That's another feature on my wish list for real-world golf!
So, the next time you're playing a virtual game on WGT or a real-world round, give yourself the best chance for success by taking in as much information as you can about each green. Make a mental note when you notice a tricky green or want to remember how a particular putt breaks. These notes will increase your chances of making a similar putt the next time you play.
All the best!