The 3 Rules You Need to Know to Properly Read a Golf Green

By Jane Blalock

I'm confronted with an extremely difficult putt, one of the most complicated aspects of putting is not simply to make the stroke, it's how do you read the greens, to see which way the ball will move once hit. The greatest putters in the world would not be good unless they're able to read the greens. Let's discuss a few basic elements required to read greens properly.

2 Basic Tips for Reading Greens

  • Number one and probably the most obvious is the contour of the green. The ball will always follow the contour of the slope. If the slope is going right to left, then the ball will roll from right to left. If you're going uphill it's going to be slower and downhill is going to be faster. Those are pretty obvious.
  • Now let's discuss the grain. You hear that word quite often on television. What is the grain? It is the direction in which the grass grows and the ball will always roll in that direction. So if the grain is towards you, meaning the grass is growing towards you, the putts going to be a lot slower because the putt is rolling against the grain.
  • Now if I'm going down grain, I'm sure you have heard that expression, the grass is growing away from you and the putt will be faster. That's pretty easy to see; you simply look at the green and see the direction the grass is pointing.

Let's go back to the contour of the green. One great way to read the green and it saves a lot of time from going behind the hole and all sides of it is to go off to the side and create a triangle with the points being the ball, the hole and where you are standing. As I'm walking to the side, I'm always looking at the green. I'm trying to get a feel of the green; I want the green to be my friend.

The Correct Angle to Read the Green

When I'm looking at it from this angle, I can see the slope better. I'm feeling the putt and putting is always feel. Just to make sure, I walk behind and I crouch down so that I am close to ground level. Now I can see there are a couple of little subtle undulations in there that can only be seen from directly behind the ball.

Again, don't take too much time, now I walk up and I'm pretty comfortable. One last thing you want to make sure of, since greens can be very tricky, is that although the green may seem quite level you may be on the side of the hill. Always observe the terrain around you and that will help you as far as reading putts are concerned. Let's see if I can practice what I preach. This is going to break severely from my right to left because there is a hill to my right. That is some break. Pay attention to this advice and you will become a much better putter. Remember your surroundings are important.


Category: Reading Greens

About the Instructor

Jane Blalock
Jane Blalock
The Jane Blalock Company
197 Eighth Street
Flagship Warf
Boston, MA 02129
Cambridge, MA 02141
Tel: 800-466-1133