Listen to your coaches that have been telling you all along to never miss a putt on the low side and a short putt will have a 0% chance of going in. But there is more to it. But let’s talk about why.
By looking on the right side of the graphic above, you can see which lines you can putt on a 10ft, 4% slope, and 10 stimpmeter green and still make the putt. As you can see, there is quite some room for error that you can have on both sides of the ideal line. On top of that, no matter which line your ball ends up traveling on, if you manage to get the exact same speed every time, then your ball will end up inside 3 ft in case you missed the putt. This is very important information as from a distance of 10ft, more often than not, amateurs miss the putt. So when making a decision about your putt, you should always consider where your ball will be if you miss the putt. Or in other words, how far can you afford to be away from the hole to feel comfortable on your putt coming back.
On the other hand, if you look at the second picture, you can see the speed errors you are allowed to make and your ball will still go into the hole. You can immediately tell, that the room for error is significantly less than what you had with the initial ball direction. This becomes even more evident if you look at the two pictures on the right side of the graphic. Here you can see the results of missed putts. Again, you can see, that having the right speed, but being slightly off-line, produces a far less significant error, than if you hit the ball on the right line and vary in speed. Especially, if you think back about what we have established earlier on the effective hole size. A fast putt, will not only make the hole smaller for you, but a mistake will also result in a long putt coming back. But what should you do with this information?
Think about it rationally. If we combined what we just learned, you know, that if your ball is traveling on a rather low line, you would have to get the speed exactly right in order for the ball to still fall into the hole. However, if you overread a putt, you could still have some speed errors and your ball might end up in the hole anyways. Therefore, it is always better to aim higher, rather than lower, especially since most amateurs tend to under-read putts anyways.
But what about the speed?