Improve Your Green Reading with These 5 Putting Strategies

Dec 24, 2019 A golf ball on a field about to be putt

There are few things in golf as frustrating as making a great stroke only to see the ball turn away from the hole at the last moment. Countless putts are missed due to poor reads, yet many players tend to simply blame those misses on a bad stroke. There are a lot of steps you can take to pursue lower scores, like adding an indoor golf simulator to your home or using putting aids to practice, but one quick step you can take is to work on your green reading. Let’s go through five useful putting tips on this subject.

Think Like the Rain

As you attempt to read the slope of the ground for your putt, try to imagine a heavy rain falling on the green. Where would the water go? If you can figure out where the water would flow, you’ll have a great indication of which way the ball is going to break. After all, water only flows downhill, so this is an excellent method when trying to examine gentle slopes.

If you aren’t sure where the water would go, look around the edges of the green for any drains you can find. Those drains were placed by the course designer to collect excess water, and they are always located in low spots. A little bit of detective work can go a long way toward getting an accurate read.

Read the Elevation Change

What do you look for first when trying to read a putt? If you are like most people, you stand behind the ball and try to decide if the putt is going to turn right or left. That’s important, but the uphill or downhill element of the putt should not be ignored, either. Stand halfway between the ball and the cup and decide if you are putting uphill or downhill. Getting the speed right on your putts is crucial, and you can only do that when you understand the influence of the elevation change.

Feel It in Your Feet

A golfer reading greens to get ready for a putt

Not sure how a putt is going to break after taking a look from all angles? Try standing near the line to see if you can feel the slope of the green under your feet. You don’t want to stand directly on your line and leave footprints in the way, of course, so stand just off to the side while using this technique (and make sure you aren’t standing on anyone else’s line).

Give It an Honest Effort

One of the biggest issues with green-reading for many amateur golfers is simply a lack of effort. If you just walk up, take a quick glance down your line from behind the ball, and then make a stroke, you aren’t getting enough information to make a proper read. You need to take a look from at least a couple of different angles, as well as looking for other factors around the green (like the drains mentioned above).

Read Your Practice Putts

For whatever reason, the greens at one golf course won’t necessarily break the same as the greens at another course in the area. As you warm up, don’t just aimlessly hit some putts across the practice green. Instead, pick specific targets and practice reading your putts as you prepare to play. Knowing how the ball is breaking on the practice green will help you make better reads on the course.

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