Home   |   About   |   About this Site   |   Contact   |   Site Search

Putt Reading
Critical Zone

Putt Reading is only concerned with the small piece of green over which your ball has to travel to reach the hole.

It is not the same as Green Reading.

Reading the Putt

Most golfers have difficulty in reading breaks.

This is because green speeds are getting faster and the slopes at the hole are more subtle to judge.

The Critical Zone for your putt is the last two to three feet on the approach to the hole. Putting successfully is all about managing these last few feet of the putt.

Putt Reading is a combination of Knowledge and Skill.

  • The Knowledge to understand how much, and in what direction the green surface slopes in the Critical Zone around the hole

  • The Skill to deliver your ball to the hole at a Consistent Speed.

There is no exact way to determine how much a putt will break. Every putt is different, but there are techniques that can help you with your assessment of the break.

You are looking for the local Fall Line through the hole and using this knowledge to assess the break.

back to top

Arrival Speed

The diameter of a hole is 4.25 inches wide and your ball is 1.68 inches wide. The objective on any putt is to maximise the chance that your ball will fall into the hole and stay there.

  • How much of the width of the hole is available to capture your ball will depend on how fast your ball is travelling when it reaches the rim of the cup.

  • The faster the ball speed the less time your ball will have to drop sufficiently deep into the cup before it hits the back wall. If it doesn’t drop half of its width or more, it will typically lip out.

The aggressive approach is taking out some of the break and ramming the putt home. Aggressive putters claim that a slower putt is more likely to be knocked off line by defects in the putting surface.

The disadvantage of such an approach is the fact that at higher speeds the width of the hole shrinks. The ball does not have enough time to feed down into the hole. A second disadvantage is the length of the come-back putt should you miss.

back to top

Optimum Speed

Matching the speed to the read is all important in Putt Reading and Green Reading.

So what is the best or optimum speed to make the maximum width of the hole available to capture your ball?

Geoff Mangum of Puttingzone suggests that the speed just be enough to get the ball over the rim. This means dying your putt into the hole rather than trying to bang it in.

This is not the view of Dave Pelz who advocates that missed putts should roll 17 inches past the hole.

My Recommendation Putt with a Consistent
Topple-in Speed

Good putters have the ball going into the hole at the same rate of rolling speed every time and from any length.

Because they know how fast their ball will be travelling, they can pick an exact path into the hole. The maxim of One Speed, One Read.

Your putting will improve significantly if you can work on getting your putts to the hole at a consistent speed.

This speed should be just enough to allow the ball to fall below its equator before it hits the back wall. Once you can do this repeatedly, reading the putt is that much easier as there is always only one path into the hole.

back to top

Image Source
1 = More Confessions of a Golf Addict by George Houghton (1954)

Return from Putt Reading to Better Golf by Putting Better

Make More Putts

Discover HOW?

Related Topics

Green Reading

reading breaks

green surface slopes

Fall Line

ball speed