Reading Greens

Part I – Overview:

Reading greens and determining your line of putt is probably more of an art than a science. But with an understanding of what to look for and how a ball will react to certain conditions on the green will help you become an expert at reading greens. It does take practice time to get good at and a lot of experimenting with various green conditions but there is no doubt that if you can read the slope of the greens well you will dramatically lower your score.

 Approaching the Greenputting-lesson-green-not-flat-1

Start by surveying the overall lay out of the green from a distance. When your approaching the green and are about 20 to 30 feet away get a general idea of the layout.
•Is the green on a whole tilting left or sloping right or is it relatively flat.
•Are there any lakes or ponds around, balls will normally roll towards water.
•Are there any mountains nearby, balls will roll away from mountains
putting-lesson-green-slant-2On the green to the left , it is clear that the overall green is slanting in one direction however inside the green there are several slopes.
Depending on where the ball lies, the golfer will have to consider the inner slope plus the overall tilt of the green.
putting-lesson-green-grain-3Determining the direction of the grain of the green is next while approaching green. If from where your standing the grass looks shiny, then the grain is facing away from you and the ball will roll a little faster.
If the grass looks darker, then the grain is facing towards you and the roll will roll slower.

Slope and Direction

Your first goal in reading greens is to determine the slope of your putt in order to figure how much the ball may break when you putt. Do you have a left to right or a right to left break. Also you need to determine if it is an uphill, flat or downhill putt.
putting-lesson-reading-green-squat-behind-ballSquat down behind the ball and visualize the slope and begin to determine how much break and in which direction.
Cup your hands around your eyes to block out any distractions and it will help you better focus.
Now try imagining if you pour a bucket of water from where your standing how would the water flow and in which direction.
What you want to do is visualize the roll of ball.
Some people are even able to picture the entire green as a grid with guide lines running in both directions in order to better see how the ball will roll.

Next walk clockwise left and get a side view. Then survey the last 10-12″ inches around the hole.

– The ball will loses most of its speed when approaching the hole and any slight dip or grain of the grass will begin to significantly affect the balls direction.

  – Remember, the faster the ball is moving the less break it will have and the slower it is moving the more it will be effected by the break.

 – Stand well behind the hole facing the ball. You are still gathering all the information you can for formulating a decision.

– Walk clockwise again to get another side view from the opposite side of the intended target line.

– Putts that break from right to left means the slope of the green rises from left to right when standing behind your ball.

– Try and pick out the high point of the break in your putt.

By now you should have a fairly good idea of the slope and how the ball should break. You also have clear idea on the direction of the target line and can visualize this in your mind.

Understanding Uphill and Downhill Putts

putting-lesson-reading-greens-uphill-puttsWhen determining your target line understand that downhill putts will play more of the break, while uphill putts will be affected less by the break. putting-lesson-reading-green-downhill-putt
For example, let us assume two 30 foot putts, one uphill and one downhill. On the downhill putt you’re going to hit the ball with less force because gravity is going to take over and carry the ball to the hole.
So at impact the ball is going to be moving slower and therefore be more affected by the break.
On the other hand, in order to have enough speed to get to the hole on the uphill putt you will have to hit the ball harder. Immediately after you strike the ball the ball will be moving faster and be affected less by the break. As the ball approaches the hole and losses speed it will suddenly begin to break much more.

Recap: Step by Step Lesson for Reading Greens 

Source: Video Jug

Putting Tip

On long putts, measure the distance of your putt based on the number paces you take from your ball to the hole while you are reading the green.

For example, if you’re looking at a 30 to 40 foot putt but are not quite sure of the distance, count how many paces you are taking from your ball to hole while you’re surveying the green. If your pace is about 3 feet and you took 10 paces then you have a more accurate reading and your putting distance is about 30 feet.

Use these measurements to become more consistent, rather than rough estimating the distance and also the amount of speed you’re going to apply to the ball.


Continue to Next Lesson…… Reading Greens Part II