Explaining the Golf Term 'Die In the Hole'

"Die in the hole" is a golf phrase applied to putts that just barely make it to the hole — but that do make it into the cup.

When you a make a putt that just barely got to the hole but did, in fact, fall into the hole, that ball "died in the hole."

Picture a putted golf ball rolling toward the hole. It begins to slow as it approaches the cup, and just barely has enough momentum to get there. But the ball drops into the cup.

Some golfers try to intentionally "die it in the hole." Whether a golfer is aggressive with a putt (hitting it more firmly and with more speed) or not (hitting it softer, with less speed) often depends on factors such as green conditions and the type of break involved in the putt.

On a very slick green, for example, where a missed putt runs the risk of running well past the hole, a good putter will try to intentionally die it in the hole.

One great putter who preferred the die-in-the-hole approach to putting is Ben Crenshaw, whose mentor, Harvey Penick, preferred it to more aggressive ball speeds. The idea, Crenshaw has explained, is that you want the ball rolling slow enough when it reaches the hole that if it catches any part of the hole's lip, any curve of the hole's rim, it will be able to fall in.

The risk that die-in-the-hole putters always run, however, is leaving putts short. No ball will die in the hole if it doesn't reach the cup.

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