One of the best highlights for any player, irrespective of their skill level, is to sink an effective putt. It is a sign that the golf you are playing is good. Making the perfect putt does not come easy, and golfers use different methods to ensure they get it right. However, one of the best putting fundamentals that every golfer learns is how to read the greens and why it is crucial to do so. The ability to read the greens properly is what separates the amateurs from the elite players.
Even though it may seem like a simple thing to do, reading greens is challenging for new players. When they are at the course, many novices’ first thoughts are how to get their ball as close as possible to the hole without caring much else about anything else. On the other hand, a professional player takes time to study the golf course, and contours of the greens before sinking a putt. In this article, our focus is on how to read the greens effectively for your short game.
8 Tips on How to Read the Greens like a Pro
Some players assume that to be a great golfer, all you need is to have a tremendous and consistent rhythm, perfect your stroke, hit excellent speed, get the right line, and you are good to go. While all this seems like a good thing, you might not accomplish sinking in as many putts as you would want. However, if you paired all that up with excellent green reading skills, you join the line of elite players with the ability to drain many putts because they know their way around the greens.
Green reading requires a bit of work and practice. However, the following green-reading steps are easy to grasp, and once you master them, you become proficient in what you do.
1. Know Your Putting Distance (Pace off Your Putt)
One of the many mistakes novices make is to assume the distance only to end up hitting the ball a few feet off the hole. Knowing your actual putting distance will make it easier for the ball to land into the hole. There are several ways to do this, but the most effective one is walking up to the hole and visualizing the exact place that the ball needs to enter for you to beyond the cup with two feet.
The other method is by pacing the putt. The easiest way to do this is by marking your ball, counting the paces, multiplying what you get by three to find out how many feet stand between you and the cup. After much practice, your feel for the stroke length needed depending on the putt length will become consistent.
2. Read the Break of the Course
First, study the profile of the whole golf course before sinking in your putt. The course break and the grain play a massive role in your game. The grain of the grass refers to grass growing in a specific direction, while a break relates to the putt moves you make from left to right or vice versa on the green.
The factors that dictate a break include topographical features such as mountains and water and the nature of the terrain. If the golf course has mountains nearby, the landscape’s slope will most like be natural and easiest to find. If the course is flat, you can ask for help from a course superintendent about identifying the lowest point.
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3. Establish the Profile of the Putt
The next thing you should do after finding out about the golf course profile is learning the green orientation between the hole and the ball. After pacing the putt and finding out what the actual distance is, look at the break without losing line with your ball. Identify the low side of your putt and walk towards it.
Halfway through the walk, between the cup and the ball, crouch down to get a clearer picture of the severity of the slope or steep. Now paint a visual image of the line that you want to run through the green. Use giant and colorful coloring pencils to make the line more visible in your mind. When you do the actual putting, this picture will help you to sink your putt with ease.
Another helpful tip that will help you get a clearer picture of the green orientation is to break down the putt into two equal parts. The first half of the break will show you the straight line between where you are standing and where the ball rests. The second half should show you where the break of the putt and gravity combine.
The second half is the slower part of the ball journey. You also need to know whether the putt first goes uphill before descending downhill or whether it first goes downhill before ascending uphill. Sometimes you will come across situations where the ball goes downhill, and instead of going uphill, it goes further downhill. Other times you may have the ball going uphill and even further uphill instead of descending downhill.
While at it, you may also want to find out the direction in which the wind is blowing because it plays a massive role in establishing your putt profile. The wind can be for or against the line of your putt. All these are the challenges of reading a putt, but with time and lots of practice, all this comes naturally.
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4. Go Back To Your Ball
Knowing the actual distance and establishing the profile of the out should not take you more than a minute. After you are through with the exercise, go back to your ball and take a few paces off it to get a feel for the putt break. With the new confidence gained from reading the profile of the putt and all the other information garnered about the distance to cover, focus on identifying the highest point or apex of the break.
If you still cannot identify the highest point of the break, do not worry. Take another quick walk to the halfway point between you and the cup to get a clearer picture or idea of the break. Get a feel for your speed by taking a few strokes, and with this renewed confidence, there is no reason you should not hit a put comfortably and like a pro.
5. Work On Your Pre-Stroke Routine
Unlike many other ball-sporting activities, the ball in golf stays static on the ground, which can sometimes lead to performance anxiety due to many negative thoughts running through the mind. Holing putts on a practice range is easy, but when you get to the golf course, it becomes real, which is why you should have a pre-stroke routine before pulling a trigger on the putt.
A pre-putting routine is a systematic procedure that helps you with consistency, confidence, and better focus. If you do not have a pre-stroke routine of your own, this simple yet effective one will help you.
- Pick the ball aim line or the direction you want the ball to follow
- Stand next to your ball and stand at address
- Take a look at the aim line and the cup and visualize your ball going in
- Take another look down the line to the highest point of the break and then at the hole
6. Take Your Time
Do not rush anything or think reading the greens is a task that you need to accomplish in a hurry. Sometimes you might feel the need to rush everything, especially if other golfers are waiting for you to finish so they can take their turns. Do not let them both you because golf as a whole needs patience and strategy. As you practice more, you gain more confidence and become faster and more adept at reading the greens.
7. Be In the Right Mental State
You cannot read the green effectively if your mental state is in disarray. It would be best to have complete concentration, lots of focus, and some amount of mindfulness before taking that shot. Having a clear head and the proper mental state also prevents you from overanalyzing the issues with the green that might not even exist.
With a clear head and the right mental state, you will confidently shoot the ball without analyzing anything. If you are not feeling up to it because of anxiety or worrying thoughts, you can try a few mind-calming and breathing techniques to get you back in the right mental state.
8. Ask For a Second Opinion
Lastly, another helpful tip that can help you read the greens is by asking someone else, probably their perspective. You can request a caddy if you have one or a friend or any other player on the course.
You do not have to seek help from only the professional players about reading the greens though it would help much because they know their way around more than the amateurs do. Compare and contrast their views with yours to check if you missed or gauged something wrongly.
Besides asking for a second opinion, you also watch other golfers play to learn a thing or two about their putt behavior. Watching the others will give you a better idea of green’s nature, such as if the slope is bumpy, slow, or fast.
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Wrapping it up
Reading the greens is not just about running a glance through the course and making your own guesses about what should and should not happen. Learning how to read the greens is a skill that significantly impacts your handicap and scores. It also provides you with more putting confidence, which is the beginning of a great golfer. Regardless of your skill level or ability, the above tips will help you to read greens like a pro and give your best on the course.