The Art of Reading the Green

Golf is a sport that requires precision and expertise in order to be a golfing professional. Whether you are a golfing novice or a golf god, you will find a time where you have surpassed the fairway onto the green and you are ready to putt. 

Putting is a crucial element of delivering results and playing up to par. You have to be able to align your putter with the ball and hit it in a way that will line it perfectly into the hole.

To a novice golfer, putting may seem like the simplest part of the game. Real golfers will know that the putt may look easy, but there is a lot more to it than just hitting the ball. Your putt stroke is a simple motion, you pull your putter back and let it connect with the golf ball. 

Putting is so much more than that. Your ability to putt is greatly affected by your mental skills first. You must visualize how you will hit it, in what direction, what strength you will hit it and how it is going to break. 

Even after doing this, before you even think about sinking that final shot, you will need to examine the green and the putting conditions before you start planning and lining up your shot. This is called green-reading.

Reading the green is a vital part of executing your putting shots in the game. Green reading is one of the biggest fundamentals of the game. It is the main way that you estimate how your ball will reach the hole, and adapt your technique to reach your goal in as few hits as possible.

Putting can make up around 41% of your shots on the course, so it is important that you sharpen your skills to lower your stroke scores.

If you find yourself unable to break 80 or play up to par, you may need to start thinking about your green-reading game. Although many golfers spend a lot of time focussing on the long game, the short game is where the results come in. 

The art of reading the green will give your putt extra skill and accuracy. 

The Art of Reading the Green

In order to read the green and start fine-tuning your stroke, our tip is to always trust your instincts. Sometimes your first instinct when looking at the green can be the right one. 

When approaching the green, you should be starting to read. As you make your way to the hole, you will begin to notice the slopes and shape of the area around the hole. You may see hills, uneven ground, or tiers that will affect the direction of your ball. 

This part is imperative to how well you will perform when putting. You must first gain perspective of the green and focus on it as you reach it.

You may want to pace off your putt before lining up your shot. This can be done by marking the location of your ball and calculating the amount of paces or steps between it and the hole. You can then multiply it by 3 to see how many feet the distance is.

Some golf pros prefer to see the ball from the low side. This means that you are judging your putt by looking from below the hole, as it may give you a clearer vision of where it may go.

Get down onto the floor and align your body with your ball. Squat as low as you can go, the lower to the ground you are, the more you will see. If you can see horizontally across the green, then you will be able to examine the shape and direction the ball may travel. Start considering the break and the slope of your putt.

Putt Break

One of the key ways to read the green is to examine the breaking point of your putt. This can be above the hole by different distances, and it is the point where the ball will turn towards the hole. When you discover this position, you should putt towards that break point.

This can also be known as the apex of the putt. This is the point where the golf ball will start to break as it slows down and loses speed from the hit.

Once you have found the apex, you just need to find the line where you should hit the ball in order to get it to the apex, and let it do the rest of the work for you.

Slope of the Green

In order to read the green, you should consider the slope of the green. You may notice that there could be an uphill or downhill slope. Once you have decided which shape the green has, you can alter your short game accordingly. 

With an uphill slope, you are in luck. You will be able to hit the ball with much more aggression. Uphill putts will break significantly less as you will have hit the ball much harder. 

If the green slopes downhill, then you may need to be a little gentler with your putt, otherwise you may miss or surpass your target. You should always bear in mind that if the second part of a putt falls downhill then it will break considerably more.

Our best way to help you read the slope of the green is to imagine pouring a bottle of water onto the green. You must then consider which directions the beads of water will fall, and then imagine those beads are your ball. 

Visualize the Win

You must also visualize the ball going into the hole. It can be very useful to ‘see’ your putt going into the hole. Imagine the whole process.

You see the moment your putter hits the ball to the moment you sink it into the hole. 

This will help you hone in on your technical skill and visualize what needs to be done. 

Aimpoint System

Some professional golfers prefer to use the Aimpoint system. This is a tour-proven way of reading the green like a pro. The Aimpoint system is a quick method of helping you read your putt precisely and consistently every time.

This is a means of using your feet to estimate the slope of your putt, and also using your arms or fingers to determine your target and aim. This takes all of the guesswork out of green reading. This way you can have confidence in your ability to read the green and therefore execute a brilliant putt.

The first step is to stand facing your hole and estimate the slope and shape of the green using your feet. You can use your weight distribution to determine the slope. This is gauged by a grade of 1-6, with 2 being the normal. 

Then you must use your arm and your fingers to decide where you must aim your putt. Measure your aim point with your fingers to see where your target is. Finally you must line your ball up to the aimpoint.  

Bear in mind that, this may work for golf pros, but not necessarily work for you. Practice makes perfect and you may find a method that works better for your golf style.

Green Conditions

You will always have to factor in different conditions when playing the game. Various locations will have different weather conditions or windy climates.

When reading the green and setting up your putt, you must think to yourself; how will the weather affect my putt? You must always consider which direction the wind is blowing as it can throw off your shot even if it was perfectly aligned. 

Wind can also change the speed of your putts, they may slow down or change the direction of your putt. The wind may also roll your ball into the wrong direction, and that will not help your stroke count at all. Therefore, when reading your green you must think about the conditions in which you are playing.

In this sense, you must always determine the speed of the green. When golfers talk about the speed of the green, they are determining how easily the golf ball rolls over the green, and therefore will know how hard to hit the ball. 

The speed of a green is decided by the Stimp rating. The higher the stimp rating, then the faster the green will be. Slow greens will not be influenced by the wind as much as on fast greens. Fast greens do not need hard hitting putts as the grass will not prevent any movement of the ball.

The Game is Yours

There are a multitude of factors that you should consider when making your putt shots. However, reading the green is the most crucial element of ensuring that your shot is accuracte and consistent every time.

As with any sport, practice is key, and you will need to try reading the green in different courses, weather conditions and angles. This way you can perfect your green read and get back to putting like a pro. 

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