Putting
Lesson 7

Putting Lesson 7 - Learning Points for Reading the Green and Putt

Green Reading, and more specifically Putt Reading, requires an ability to understand the relationship between:

  1. The slope and speed of the green, especially close to the hole.
  2. The optimum speed at the hole for capturing the ball.
  3. The amount of break based on the Points 1 and 2 above.


1 – Green Reading

Green Reading involves getting a general sense of how the green is sloped as you approach it. Normally greens are tilted from the back to the front in order to check the ball as it hits into the upslope.

Drainage also plays a significant role in how the green is contoured. Normally the run-off of water is to the front and to the sides. It is never directed towards the bunkers.

There are some rules of thumb such as the green typically slopes away from hills and mountains and towards ponds and lakes. However, the overall slope of the green may not reflect the specific slope of a particular putt.

2 – Putt Reading

Putt Reading involves understanding the slope as it concerns a particular putt. Because the green slopes a certain way does not automatically mean that your putt will follow the same slope.

There is a high side to the hole on all putts as no green is perfectly level. This is to prevent water pooling at the hole when it rains.

The ability to read a putt concerns establishing the exact slope at the hole. This is because as the ball slows down on its approach to the hole it will be affected more by the pull of gravity. The last foot or so will see the largest amount of break.

3 - Understanding the Break

Knowing the green speed for the day will help you to estimate how much break there will be in general terms. On fast greens the ball will break more than on slow greens. Grain if present will also influence the degree of break.

Once you understand that there are only two points where a putt is absolutely straight, you will appreciate that all the remaining putts will deviate.

How much a putt will deviate from a straight line will depend on a number of factors such as how fast the ball is rolling as it reaches the hole, whether the putt is downhill or uphill and so on.

4 – Optimum Speed

The hole is four and a quarter inches wide, about two and a half times the width of a golf ball. However, because the hole is round, the maximum distance across is only at its centre point from front to back. This means that a putt that is off-centre has less distance to travel across the hole before it contacts the back wall.

For the ball to stay within the hole it must dropped at least half of its diameter before it contacts the back wall. If this does not happen, it will lip out.

The optimum speed for a putt for maximum capture is when the ball arrives at the hole so that it has time to drop below its equator before it reaches the back wall. A putt that is travelling too fast will not find the bottom of the hole.

5 – Fall Line

The fall line is the true downward direction of the slope at the hole. Using the analogy of a clock face it is the 12 o'clock to 6 o'clock line.

All putts as they approach the hole will gravitate towards the fall line as this is the direction that gravity is pulling them.

Unless the putt is on the actual fall line in the case of a putt that is straight uphill or straight downhill, the putt will move either left to right or right to left.

If you can work out the fall line you will know exactly the direction the ball will break at the hole - the more the slope, the greater the break.

6 – Green Mapping

Because of faster green speeds, the hole locations are now located on more subtle slopes that are not easy to see at a glance.

It makes sense then that if you play a certain course regularly, you map the slopes on each green for typical hole locations.

Pro golfers putt best when they are putting on familiar greens where they have previous experience of hole locations and the corresponding breaks.

Before each tournament the pro and his caddie will revisit their charts to reaffirm that the ball still breaks the same way on each green from different locations.

Green mapping gives you a better chance of reading a putt correctly rather than just relying on your memory.


When you have a good understanding of what is required for reading the green and the putt, you are ready to move on to:

Lesson 8 - Dealing with the Mental Side.

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Related Web Pages and Ezines

Web Pages
Green Reading - Think of the Green as a Crime Scene with You as the Detective
Putt Reading - The Secret of Sinking More Putts
Fall Line - What You Must Know in order to Sink a Putt
Fall Line Putt Reader - What You Must Know to Read a Putt Accurately
Green Mapping - An Essential Tool for Making More Putts
Green Mapping Steps - How to prepare Your Own Pocket Guide of the Greens

Ezines
12. Straight Putt - Every Putt is a Straight Putt – Myth or Fact?
22. Clock Drill - How it Can Help You Read the Break of a Putt
28. Making the Putt - Why Making the Putt is More Important than Holing the Putt
66. Reading the Break - Why All Breaking Putts are Speed Putts
78. Aiming Method X - How to Use the Fall Line to Find Your Aimpoint in Putting
84. Ball Speed - Unlocking the Mysteries of Breaking Putts on Fast and Slow Greens
92. Putting Path - How You Perceive a Task will influence the Success You Attain
102. Pure Greens - What You Can Learn about the Importance of Speed in Putting
125. Putting Puzzle - A Riddle You Have to Solve Every Time You Putt
126. Slow Greens - Outside of Your Comfort Zone perhaps, but Challenging Your Skill


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