Green Reading Guide For Golf
One trap that many golfers fall into is to get obsessed by the line of their putt without seeing the topography of the green as a whole. You miss the putt, step away and suddenly as you look at the green again, you spot a slope you had previously missed. We’ve all been there. The key is to think about your putt as you walk towards the green. Look at it as a whole – identify the swales, high points and general slopes of the green. Once you get reach your ball you’ll have a much better idea of where the green wants your ball to go.
Slopes, especially subtle ones, can be hard to spot on a large expanse of featureless green. That’s why it helps to look out for markers that better signify where the slopes are. If your playing partners golf balls are on the green, look at them in comparison to the hole – are they higher or lower? To help even more, place the flag down on the opposite side of the hole from the balls that are on the green. You can use these items almost like props to help you gain a better appreciation for what the undulations are going to do.
A great way to think about the slopes on a green is to picture how water would drain away. Obviously, you wouldn’t be able to pour a bottle of water on the green during the competition but it doesn’t stop you trying to picture it. Also, look out for any drainage – green keepers are tasked with managing the water on their greens so the clues are all there, you just have to look out for them. If you can find the drainage spots, you’ll better see the breaks.
How to spot grain
On a warm day, the direction the grass is growing will have a huge part to play in the speed of your putt. Likewise, the way the grass has been mown is important to look out for. Take a look at this image – you can see from the way the grass has been cut that there are lighter and darker patches. Stand behind your ball and identify whether the route to the hole is lighter or darker. If it’s lighter, you are putting down the same direction the grass is growing and it will be a little faster than usual. If the line is darker, you are putting towards the direction the grass is growing and it will be slower. On particularly quick greens, this can have a huge impact.
My final green reading guide for golf is a basic one but it would be remiss not to emphasise it. The slower your ball is rolling, the more break it will take. If your playing partner is chipping onto the green or putting from outside you, take note of what the ball does as it rolls towards the hole. It doesn’t matter what direction that ball is coming from, the clues it will offer about the slope are essential as it slows down. You might spot a little more break than you thought and you’ll be able to allow for that with confidence when it’s your turn to putt.