Sloping greens maintain the health
of the grass by allowing water to drain away.
The better you understand what causes your ball to move a certain way on a surface that is sloped, the easier it will be for you to read the break.
For the golfer sloping greens add to the challenge of putting. Each green has its own personality, and it is up to you to be able to read its characteristics.
To do this it is helpful to know the forces that cause your ball to break a certain way.
Gravity (G) is the single most important force that acts on how your ball rolls on a inclined surface.
It is made up of two components. The first is the force that pulls everything towards the centre of the Earth.
For example, on a flat green it merely holds your ball against the surface, but doesn't move it.
However, on a slope there is a sidehill component of gravity that works to move your ball down the slope.
This is the component that you need to consider when putting. This is because as your ball slows down, gravity will increasingly affect its direction.
Friction (F) is the resistance an object encounters in moving over another object. It is the force that opposes motion. For example, when you putt your ball on a flat and level green, it will roll until the energy imparted by your stroke is overcome by friction.
Slower greens have greater friction than faster greens and stop your ball quicker. When you putt against the grain there is more resistance than when you putt with the grain. Even the friction of wind, if it is strong enough, can influence the break of your ball.
Forward Momentum (FM) takes place when your putter makes contact with the ball. The amount of forward momentum is usually determined by the length of your backstroke. As there is no such thing as perpetual motion your ball - even if you putted on a sheet of flat glass - would eventually come to a stop.
Motion (M) occurs whenever the ball moves, either as a result of gravity or a combination of gravity and forward momentum. Your ball will stop moving when friction finally is greater than both the forces of gravity and forward momentum combined.
The skill of putting on sloping greens comes from your ability to factor in the various forces that act on your ball on its way to the hole. In science the roll of the ball can be explained by the laws of physics.
From a practical point of view it is judging the degree and direction of the slope (gravity), the speed of the green surface (friction), and the amount of force (forward momentum) to get your ball to the hole.
This may seem an insurmountable task. However, we are all equipped with an instinctive brain that can do marvellous things if we give it good and consistent information.
To learn more about breaking putts, check out the excellent ebook on Putting Lines.
1 = www.bbc.co.uk
2 = www.puttinglines.com