Ever get stuck not being able to break par? It’ll be nearly impossible to consistently break 80 or 90s without knowing how to read a golf green. Green reading is essential for becoming an excellent putter and lowering your scores. But how do you read a golf green?
The easiest way to read a golf green is to use a Golf green reading book to show all of the undulation and break on each hole. The pros and their caddies use them each weekend and rely on them heavily. The Best green reading book is the Strackaline which has more than 10,000 courses available with their Greens Guide.
This past year at the Masters, several golfers struggled to read the greens because the Green reading books were banned. If the PGA believes that these books provide an unfair advantage to the pros, then they must be really good.
If you do not have one of the Strackaline books – which you can use on your own home course, then:
Pace off your putt to determine the distance. Then you’ll want to evaluate the grain and break of the golf green so that you can gauge the speed.
Most golfers prioritize the long game, but the short game affects your score the most. In this blog post, we’ll share helpful tips on how to read greens, so you can finally break par, hit birdies, or maybe even eagles.
How to Read Golf Greens for Speed and Break
Pace Off Your Putt
First, consider the distance between you and the hole. If you don’t know the distance, you also won’t be able to gauge the putt’s speed. Many beginner golfers act the part by crouching behind the ball, only to hit the ball way past the hole or leave it terribly short.
Once you arrive on the green, it’s crucial to mark your ball and pace your putt off. This means you walk off or measure the distance between you and the ball. This does not have to be an exact measurement, but a solid estimate. By pacing off your putt, you will get an idea of how hard to hit the putt while at the same time feeling the contour of the green. Most golfers who simply “wing it” and don’t have some sort of way to measure the distance are often poor putters.
At what distance should you begin pacing off your putt? Based on our opinion and many other pro golfers, we recommend pacing off your putt once the hole is six feet or further away from you. The process of pacing is simple. Count your pace first and multiply that number by three to get the feet away from the hole. As you become a seasoned golfer, you’ll get a feel for how hard and the length of stroke needed depending on how far away the hole is.
Read the Break of the Green
When evaluating the golf green, you need to always look at the course’s grain and break. The break can be defined as the amount of movement the ball will have going left or right on the green.
Various slopes of the golf course, such as mountains, hills, and water, and how hard you hit the ball will determine the break. First, you’ll need to identify the slope of the golf course. If there’s a mountain, finding the break is simple. Just look for the point where the mountain begins. If the golf course happens to be quite flat, ask the course superintendent about it’s lowest point. Finding the lowest point will enable you to take full advantage of gravity.
Today, greens typically have a lot of undulations, bunkers, and humps. Be sure to see how the green slopes. Older courses tend to slope starting from back to front to help drain water. Take into account these signs before lining up to putt.
Reading the Grain of The Green
Most amateur golfers don’t realize that the grass type can affect the break. This is also known as the grain, which refers to the direction of how the grass grows. When the ball travels into a grass that grows in the opposite direction, it moves much slower. In comparison, a ball that travels in the same direction as the direction that the grass is grown will move much quicker.
The easiest way to tell the grain is to go near the edge of the green, also called the fringe. The grass tends to be longer in this spot, so you’ll be able to easily tell which direction the grass is growing. Another way to determine the grass’s direction is to look at the hole. You may notice a sharp, half on the lip of the hole or a ragged half and a smooth. This will indicate the direction that the grass is growing. Knowing the grain will help you determine the speed of the golf course.
Identify the Highest Point of the Break
Every putt has a fall line. The fall line is when the putt travels in a downward direction of the slope. Think of it as connecting the highest point of the path to it’s lowest point. Becoming good at reading a golf green requires training your eyes to see where the high point is on the green.
The highest point means your ball will go straight downhill, while the lowest point will go straight uphill. It’s best not to putt from the green’s perceived highest point since you’ll likely miss the cup. Ideally, you want your putt to roll up to the highest point, then allowing the speed to take over and roll the ball into the cup.
Use Your Feet
Here are the steps to using the Aimpoint method for hitting better putts:
- Use your fingers and arms to figure out where to aim.
- Utilize your feet to determine the amount of slope in your putt.
- Begin the putt at the positioned Aimpoint. Make sure to hit at the right speed, which requires practice and feel for the course.
What to Look as You Approach the Greens
When approaching the green, there are several clues you should look for to help you read your putt. First, look for subtle hills and runoffs that are on the greens that could affect your shot. Course designers make ways for water drainage in the event of heavy rainfall.
Also, notice the shade of coloring the green is. Darker green means you’re positioned into the green, meaning your putts will be slower. Lighter or more silvery greens cause quicker putts. Walk around a half-moon shape from the hole towards the ball. When you’re in grainy greens, make sure to hit putts solidly because missed hits will cause the ball to go way long or way short.
Notice the slope of the greens as you’re walking. Pay attention to the slope angle and the feeling of the grains to help you putt better.
Improve Your Approach Shots
The way to get lower scores is to improve your approach shots so that it’s hitting more greens. By being on the greens on the putting surface, you have a better shot of making par or hitting birdie. Make sure to aim in the middle of every green, so even if it tails into a different direction, you still land on the putting surface. This means you’re stacking the odds in your favor.
Approach shots help you get to the greens. In the PGA tour, approaches account for about 40% of the scoring advantage. Approach shots are hits that are at minimum 100 yards away from the cup. As a golfer, you must know how far you usually hit your driver. Once you know the distance, you need to look for a specific target on the fairway. Once you identify the target, aim for accuracy. Aiming for the center of the green ensures you likely won’t hit the bunkers.
Now that you know how to position yourself properly to hit the ball in the cup, you might be asking if there are any drills for reading greens or how I can improve my putting skills. With anything golf-related, it’s best to carefully watch pro golfers and continue to learn from tutorials. As you practice, you’ll become better at reading greens and hitting precise putts.