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Ball Speed

Ball Speed plays an important part in shaping the roll

of your golf ball on the putting surface.


The speed that the ball travels across the green can be roughly divided into three phases. Knowing what happens in each phase can help you understand how your ball will break.

Managing Your Speed

You can't control the slope of the green, nor how close the grass has been cut on any particular day, but you can control how hard or soft you stroke your ball.

The velocity of your golf ball across the green can be roughly divided into three phases.

As described by Dr Steve Kaluzneand 
Dr Tony Piparo
 in their training manual Master the Art and Science of Putting they are:

  1. The Acceleration Phase

  2. The Constant Phase

  3. The Deceleration Phase

Explanation of Ball Speed

Depending on whether your putt is level, uphill or downhill, the duration of each phase will differ.

However, on all putts your ball will accelerate away on contact with your putter, then appear to be rolling at a constant speed, before the friction of the grass finally slows it down.

On any given green the degree of slope, plus the length of the grass and its moisture content, will determine the extent of the break as your ball slows near the hole. The longer the deceleration phase, the more your ball will break.

Hole Location

If the hole has been cut in a fair location, you should be able to stop your ball in the vicinity of the cup.

That said, we have all witnessed the occasional unfair hole location on the PGA Tour where the ball refuses to stop and continues rolling down the slope away from the hole.

This is the result of the green speed being too fast for the given slope at which the hole is cut.

Uphill Putts

Uphill putts are easier than downhill putts because you have to stroke the ball more firmly than downhill putts.

In other words there is a longer acceleration phase as your ball starts off faster and a shorter deceleration phase as it slows down faster.

Tour players always try to leave their approach shots under the hole as there is less guesswork in assessing the break.

Downhill Putts

On downhill putts you have to stroke the ball more gently. The acceleration phase is shorter as you try to die your putt into the hole rather than stroke it forcefully into the back of the cup.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but a downhill putt takes longer to reach the hole than an uphill putt of the same length. This is because the ball is travelling at a slower speed. This means that there is a longer deceleration phase and more break.

Fast vs. Slow Greens

Finally fast greens break more than slow greens for the same slope. The reason is that on slower greens you have to stroke the ball with more force. The rule of thumb for determining break, therefore, depends on your ball speed.

It can be summed up as:

  • Uphill equals less break.

  • Downhill equals more break.

To view a video clip demonstrating why a golf ball curves when moving on a sloping green CLICK HERE

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1/2/3 = Illustrations from Master The Art and Science of Putting

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Related Topics

slope of the green

downhill putts