5 Tips to Reading Putting Greens

Reading Putting Greens

Reading putting greens correctly is key to putting well. All putts start out straight, but the green’s contour moves the ball as it loses speed. If you’re going to start making more birdies and par saves then you must learn how to read greens.
Reading a green’s slope comes with experience, like a lot of things in golf. The more you play, the better you’ll become at it. Here are 5 tips to make more putts.

Tip #1: Determine the Speed of the Greens

The green’s slope determines the degree of break on a putt. How much the putt breaks depends on two factors: the ball’s speed and the green’s speed. In the summer, the ball tends to break more because the grass is shorter than in the winter, making the green faster. In the winter, the ball tends to break less because the grass is longer than in the summer, making the green slower. Take note of how fast or slow the greens are the next time you play. Get used to the difference between them.

Tip #2: Assess Your Surroundings

Study a green as you approach it from the fairway yields a wealth of information. In general, a green tends to slope more one way than another does. Take an overview of the green as you approach it to determine its slope. Note which way it slopes. Also, check to see if the grass is cut with the putt, in which case the grass will appear lighter, or against the putt, in which case the grass will appear darker.
Pay attention to streams or lakes next to the green. A good course architect will have the green sloping towards the water. Designing putting greens this way will allow the water to drain from the putting green during a rain storm.
Identify any hills or major mountain ranges within the area. Greens will slope away from those landmarks.
Pay attention to sand bunkers around the green. Again, a good course designer is going to make sure the greens drain properly. A course designer does not want the sand traps to be filled with water after a rain storm, so the greens will be designed to slope away from a sandtrap.
Take note of any drains near the greens. Putting greens are going to slope towards these drains.

Tip #3: Practice Your Lag Putts

Learning to make long-range putts is difficult enough without adding slopes or borrows. Adding slopes between the ball and the hole takes long range putting to another level of difficulty. The best way to learn how to putt in this situation is to practice it. Try this drill to improve your long-range putting. Stand on one side of the green and putt the ball all the way over to the other side. Try to get the ball as close to the green’s fringe as possible, without going off the green Make a game of it with your friends. This is also a great way to improve your speed control.

Tip #4: Play every putt as if it were straight

One way to deal with slopes is to play every putt as if it were straight. When dealing with a sharply sloping green, identify the putt’s breaking point—the exact spot wide of the hole indicating the amount of break the ball will take. Then putt the ball straight to it. If you have the correct speed, the ball will break at the right moment and dive into the cup.

Tip #5: Deaden the impact on downhill putts

Most golfers would rather putt a ball uphill than downhill, especially on a fast green. But if you play a lot of golf, you’ll face a downhill putt on a fast green sooner or later. One way to control the speed is to hit the ball off the putter’s toe or off the putter’s heel, close to the hosel. Either way deadens the ball enough so you can take a somewhat normal putting stroke without hitting the ball well past the hole. Which approach you adopt is a matter of personal choice.

These five tips on reading putting greens will help you learn to read the slopes on greens faster. But no golf instruction, whether golf lesson or golf tip, can teach you how to putt well. Only practice can do that. Remember improving your putting is the fastest way to lower your score.

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4 Putting Practice Drills at Home

Golf_Practice_Drills

Keep your golf game from going cold during the winter months by practicing these four putting practice drills at home.

Swing the Putter Handle

Good putters are going to be able to keep the butt end of the putter pointing at their belly through out the entire stroke. A good drill to practice at home is to swing the putter while looking at the butt end of the putter handle. This will keep the putter handle in the correct position through out the stroke.

Towel Drill

Who cares if the putting greens are buried in 4 feet of snow. You can still practice your lag putting with the towel drill. The probability of sinking 40 – 50 foot putts is really low. The goal of 40 – 50 foot putts is to get the ball close enough for a tap in putt.

Take a towel and bunch it up. You want the golf ball to hit the towel with a nice controlled speed. If you really want to work on distance control, then lay the towel completly flat. Try to get the ball to stop perfectly on the towel.

Putter Face Alignment Drill

The best putters set their putter face square to their target and the golf ball. Draw a cross on the golf ball as shown in the image above. This practice drill trains your eyes to square the putter face with your intended target. It will also helps set your body square to the putter face.

Eyes on Target Drill

Do you ever feel that your tempo is off and you just can’t get a feel for the greens? Try looking at your target while putting. Many pro golfers, Jordan Speith being one of them, have adopted this approach while on the course. Take three balls and putt towards a target while looking at it. Then take three more putts while looking at the ball. Record your results and repeat. You know you have started to gain a better feel for the greens when all six balls are showing consitency in speed and distnace control.

Keep in mind that while using these four putting practice drills at home, you are focusing on the most important part of the game. Some of the best rounds I can remember was when my putter got hot and I could not miss. The memories I have of great rounds are always the 30 foot par save or the 4 consecutive biridies. Don’t underestimate how the flat stick can save your round!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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