Green Reading Tips
Green reading is an important skill for all golfers to master if they want to lower their scores. It doesn’t matter how good your stroke is if you don’t know where to aim and how the speed of the putt will be affected by the contours.
- Green Reading Tips
- How to Read Greens: 13 Tips To Read Putts Better
- Manage Your Expectations On The Golf Course
- Use the Practice Green Before You Play
- Judge The Lay Of The Land
- Follow Your Process
- Focus On The Second Half Of Long Putts
- Check For Any Grain
- Walk Around Your Putt
- Use Your Weight Distribution To Judge Slope
- Use Your Playing Partners’ Putts As A Guide
- Visualize The Path Of The Ball
- Pick A Spot To Aim At
- Commit To Your Chosen Line
- Don’t Take All Day!
- Green Reading Tips: Summary
- How to Read Greens: 13 Tips To Read Putts Better
Sharpening your green reading will improve your performance on the putting green and will help to lower your scores.
How to Read Greens: 13 Tips To Read Putts Better
Manage Your Expectations On The Golf Course
This first point is really about reading greens but it applies to every part of your golf game.
Golf requires patience, focus, and skill. It can be frustrating at times, especially when your shots don’t go as planned. Even tour pros don’t make every putt. In fact statistics show that outside of 8 feet their success rate quickly drops. If the greatest players in the world can’t hole out regularly from 20-feet what makes you think you can? Whisper it quietly but tour pros 3-putt as well!
The next you time you 3-jab from 75 feet don’t whack yourself with the putter. Statistically a 3-putt in that situation is not that unlikely.
Go through your process, make the best stroke you can and then deal with the next shot. That’s as much as you can ask of yourself.
Use the Practice Green Before You Play
Whether you are playing somewhere new or your home club it’s always a good idea to hit a few putts on the practice green before playing a round of golf.
It’s impossible to read a green if you have no clue how fast the greens are. Slow greens mean less break, fast greens mean more break.
Don’t waste the chance on getting one up on your playing partners who probably won’t bother!
Judge The Lay Of The Land
As you approach the green complex you should be able to get an idea of the general slope you will have to contend with. Usually the overriding slope on a green will follow the surrounding contours. If the green is near a water course then it will invariably slope in that general direction.
Follow Your Process
If you are under the gun then it is important to follow routines to help ease the pressure. Work out a reading process that works for you. You could try the following:
Stand behind the ball and try to work out the slopes between you and the hole.
Move to the low side of the hole to get a feel for the total distance of the putt.
Look at the putt from behind the hole to judge the break around the hole where the golf ball will be moving most slowly and therefore more affected by slopes.
Visualize the ball running to the hole.
Move back behind the golf ball and take several practice strokes for the length of swing you think you need.
Pick a target on your chosen line.
Line yourself up and hit the ball.
Focus On The Second Half Of Long Putts
The ball will tend to break more as it slows down so pay more attention to the second half of the putt. As a rule amateurs tend to under read breaking putts.
Check For Any Grain
Depending on the type of grass in the greens you may need to allow for the grain of the grass. Grain is the direction that the grass is growing in, and it can affect how your ball rolls. If you see that the grain is going from left to right, it means that the ball will tend to roll in that direction. If the grain is going from right to left, the ball will roll in that direction. Depending on which way the grain is going may mean increasing or decreasing the amount of break you allow.
If you are putting with the grain then it is likely to be faster than normal while an into the grain putt will need to be struck more firmly
Judging how the grain may affect your putt can be tricky and takes a while to learn.
Bermuda and kikuyu are two varieties of grass where you will need to allow for grain.
Walk Around Your Putt
Your brain is a wonderful thing. Give it a chance to work out the slopes by walking around the putt from ball to hole and back again to look at it from all angles. Pay attention to the contours of the green and any slopes that might affect your putt. Also, take note of any obstacles around the green that will give you clues to the slopes such as bunkers or water hazards. By taking the time to read the green, you will be able to make a more informed decision on your putt and increase your chances of sinking it or getting it close enough to make the next one.
If you stand on what you think is the low side roughly halfway to the hole you should be able to get a feel for whether the putt is uphill or downhill as this will greatly affect the speed of the putt.
Use Your Weight Distribution To Judge Slope
As you walk or drive up a hill, you can feel the change in the angle of the incline. This is because the distribution of your weight changes as the slope increases. By gauging the slope using weight distribution, you can get a pretty good idea of how steep the hill is.
On short putts particularly using your inbuilt judgement on how your weight is distributed may be more reliable than trying to read the slope with your eyes.
Try straddling the putt and you should be able to tell which side is lower. That’s the way the ball will break so aim off accordingly.
Use Your Playing Partners’ Putts As A Guide
One of the best ways to improve your read is to go to school on your playing partners’ putts. This means paying close attention to results they get particularly as the ball nears the hole. By doing this, you can learn how the ball is moving and get a better idea of the line you need to take.
Visualize The Path Of The Ball
The very best putters are usually very good at visualizing its path to the hole. You need to be very specific when you are visualizing the path of the ball. You should also try to see the ball in slow motion so that you can better predict its trajectory.
Pick A Spot To Aim At
In order to line up your stance you will need to pick a spot a few feet in front of the ball on your chosen line. You should practice lining up regularly to make sure you are aiming where you think you are!
Commit To Your Chosen Line
Once you’ve decide on the line you want to putt on stick with it. Don’t second guess yourself, as this will only lead to more confusion. If you’re unsure of your line, step away and reread the putt. If you are having second thoughts then you are unlikely to hit a good putt.
Don’t Take All Day!
While I’m not telling you to run round the green you also shouldn’t be taking five minutes to read every putt even if it’s for the Ryder Cup! Think about your playing partners and players in groups behind you – don’t turn into Bryson Dechambeu!
Green Reading Tips: Summary
So there you have a bakers dozen tips for reading greens. If you implement just some of them you should improve your green reading but if you are really struggling then you might want to consult a PGA professional for a lesson.