Having a good putting stroke will undoubtedly save you shots out on the course. In fact an average 18 handicap golfer will play over one third of their shots on the green so an improvement in this part of your game is essential for better scoring. However it is no good you having a great putting stroke if you consistently miss read the green. In this article we will share with you our essential tips for reading the green.
Our first tip is to start reading the green approximately 50 yards before you reach the green. This will allow you to see the big picture. You should be able to clearly establish whether the green in general slopes either to the left or to the right and to the back or to the front. This general high level read will help you as you move closer to the green.
When you arrive at the green we want you to take a walk around your putt in a circle from the ball to the flag and back to the ball. Having looked at the putt from all angles should give you the necessary information to see how the putt may break. Having a walk around will also stop you from just walking up and hitting the putt by slowing you down and being more deliberate on the green. Just make sure you are not holding up play.
Next stoop behind the ball on the look along the line of the putt to see any slopes that you may have to take into account when you choose your line. Some golfers like to use the putter as a plumb bob by holding it up in front of their dominant eye and lining up the ball. If the hole is to the left of the ball then the ball will move left from the shaft to the hole and if the ball is to the right of the hole then the opposite will happen. This technique can be very useful on double breaking putts and on greens that are particularly difficult to read. We will publish a complete article on plumb bobbing at a later date.
Some green keepers make it particularly difficult to read greens by using optical illusions. For example sloping backgrounds can make the green appear to be running in one direction when in fact it moves in the opposite direction. So pay attention to the general lay of the land and don’t be fooled into a misread.
Finally there are some considerations that course designers think about with regard to drainage that may help you sink more putts. Course designers usually like greens to break towards any water to help with drainage. The last thing they want is sodden greens, so look out for any water hazards or natural drainage areas.
With some careful consideration to the design and topography of the course and a closer look at the line of your putt you will soon be able to read greens more accurately and hole more putts.
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The Golf Talk team