How to Read Greens
Putting begins with confidence. There are a lot of different putters, grips, stances and strokes, but all really good putters think they’re going to make everything The question is, where does that confidence come from? We certainly have fundamentals (mainly hitting the center of the face), but oftentimes those fundamentals are dependent on an absence of doubt. So, what happens? We get out, aren’t quite sure if we’re aimed correctly or if we’ve picked the right line, and all of a sudden we decelerate the putter or try to manipulate our putter during our stroke. That’s why reading greens is an extremely overlooked skill to this game that needs to be developed. If you’re confident in your line, a lot of other things fall into place.
Most golfers don’t put much into reading the green. They take a look, visualize what they think the ball might do and roll it. OK, so that’s one way to play, and it might not be bad if you’re at your local shaggy-greened muny par-3 course, but you’re going to struggle if you don’t have some idea what the ball is going to do when you play somewhere more challenging. Below are a few easy rules to follow. You don’t need to act like you’re putting for $200,000 and read your 3-footer from every angle in order to read a green.If you’re smart, you can play just as quickly as you normally do, all the while draining way more putts and lowering your score quickly.
- Pay Attention
This seems easy, but a lot of us aren’t aware of what’s going on around the green. Here’s the cardinal rule: EVERY TIME THE BALL HITS AND ROLLS ON THE GREEN, IT’S GIVING YOU INFORMATION. When you’re 100 yards out, you actually have a much better perspective of overall slope than you do when you’re standing on the green. Pay attention to all shots, watch how they roll after they land, see if you can decipher the overall shape of the green (back-to-front slope, right-to-left, etc.). Watch other players putt and how the ball breaks around the hole. This isn’t rocket science, but many of us don’t even take the opportunities a normal round gives us. Pay attention and you’ll get a much better feel for what’s going to happen when you putt.
- Use Your Feet
If you were blindfolded and walked onto a green, would you be able to feel the slope? You bet. This ties into paying attention. As you walk around, maybe pulling the pin out and marking your ball, pay attention to your feet. They’ll give you a good idea of how much slope there is and what is going to happen with the putt. Close your eyes for a few seconds as you walk. You’ll get a good feel for the slope.
- The Break Follows the Water
Greens are built so water doesn’t stand and stagnate. Greens drain. Use it to your advantage. If you get the chance, check out Hart’s greens after a big rainstorm. You can see exactly where the water drains and you’ll begin to realize exactly what’s happening on certain areas of each green. Gravity doesn’t lie.
If you’ve been out to Hart Ranch lately, you’ve noticed the greens are slick and rolling true (which makes them tough). We pride ourselves on our greens, and for good reason. That’s the most important part of the course (and what courses spend the most money on). There’s a lot that goes into maintaining green complexes, and it goes without saying that no matter where we play (or how many beverages we’ve consumed) we should do our best to leave the greens better than we found them. Hope these quick tips give you something to think about next time you play. Remember, if you’re confident in your putting line, you’re off to a great start.