How to Read Greens

By John Lindell

One of the most difficult facets of golf that beginners struggle with is how to read a green. This golf term refers to a player trying to visualize which way the golf ball will roll when he putts it toward the hole as it follows the contour of the putting surface. Being able to correctly read a green greatly enhances the golfer's chance of hitting a putt, taking valuable strokes off of her score.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Step 1
Take into account those factors that can influence the path of a putted golf ball on a green. Realize that the slope of the green, the length of the grass on the green and whether the green is wet or dry all play a role in which way the ball will roll once it has been struck. Also understand just how important the speed of the ball is in relation to how a putt will break.
Step 2
Bring your line of vision as low as you can when reading the break on a green. Watch professional golfers as they line up a putt and you will invariably see them squatting to get their eyes down to a level as low as they can so they can pick up the slope of a green. Line up a putt from the lower side of the hole if possible. Squat down and try to read the degree of break the ball will encounter once it has been putted.
Step 3
Look at the putt from a distance to be able to have an accurate perspective of the green. Observe the line of the putt from at least as far as the ball is from the hole, meaning that on a 6-foot putt you should be at least a dozen feet from the hole when surveying a putt and trying to read the green. Determine if you have an uphill or a downhill putt. Back away from the putt perpendicular to the imagined path the ball will take, and you will probably get a good idea if the putt is uphill or down.
Step 4
Watch other players' balls as they are chipped onto the green or putted. The golf term "going to school on a putt" arises from a player seeing how a ball reacts to the slope of the green after being hit by another player who had a similar, but longer, putt. Pay special attention to how the ball either speeds up or slows down as it gets near the hole. Process this information and use it to your advantage when it is your turn to putt.
Step 5
Utilize your imagination when looking at a putt. Try to picture how a ball gently rolled toward the hole will move or even try to visualize which way water would flow if poured in the direction of the hole. Use this visual when standing over your putt and then try to putt the ball with the correct speed to get it to the hole.
Step 6
Practice as much as you can on the putting greens where you play. Rather than just blindly putting the ball, try to read a putt before you do so and then try to learn from the path of the ball how to read the green better next time. Employ a putting drill by positioning multiple balls in a circular pattern about 10 feet from the hole. Putt each one and notice how each one reacts as it nears the hole, using the data to form a better understanding of how to read the green.

About The Author

John has written thousands of articles for Demand Studios, Associated Content and The Greyhound Review. A Connecticut native, John has written extensively about sports, fishing, and nature.


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