Tiger Woods reading green

How to Read Greens and Breaking Putts

Nothing is better than having a solid round of golf. You're striping the golf ball and even the hole seems a little bigger. On other days, it can feel like the complete opposite. You think that your putting technique is to blame, or is it the gear? If you're practicing then it shouldn't be your putting stroke, right?

What is the culprit here? If your long-range game is on point, and your putting resources are improving, then you are most likely failing in the Green-reading area. If you fall under this category, you can use these tips we’ll give you to improve your putts.

Why is Reading Greens so Important?

Reading Greens is important because the number of strokes needed to win a hole reduces drastically when doing it. What makes it happen is the sole application of this skill. Improving this facet of your playing will make you a much more sound golfer, and the experience much more enjoyable as you’ll gain consistency in your putts with ease. Here we are going to give you simple considerations for reading Greens and Breaking Putts.

Be Aware of any Slopes and Pitch Marks

The presence of any grain irregularities and pitch marks on the green are expected to alter both the speed and line of your shot. Making sure you account for pitch marks and the grain of the green can ensure you can take the next steps with confidence. One other point is to always check what direction the nearest water and even mountain are. More often than not a putt will break towards these bodies. 

Check for Slopes from the Hole’s Point of View

Standing behind the cup gives you an enhanced perspective of any type of uneven ground close to it. You need to look at adjacent areas to the hole and scan for slopes. Keep in mind that any slopes will give you an “extra hand” with the speed of the line, so be careful with that before you make the putt.

When Returning to the Ball, Take the Lower Side of the Hole

This will help you notice any additional flaws in the terrain. Crouch once again if required when in doubt about a particular spot. If you are walking on the low side of the Green, chances are the ball is diverting into that area, which is going to change the chosen line considerably. Use this information to your advantage when Green breaks-reading.

Stand on Top of the Ball to Scan the Ground Around It

Not only looking around the cup will help you improve the read of any breaks on the Green. Actually observing around the area where the ball is will augment the probabilities of getting a better read of the Green. This data helps for compensating for any blemishes with your putt.

Squat Behind the Ball to Determine the Final Trajectory

Another quintessential step that can be taken in order to maximize the chances of scoring the putt is doing something that we may have seen golfers do on TV several times, and that is squatting behind the ball so as to determine its line using the worm’s-eye view.

Another helpful tool is to draw a line on the ball to use it as a visual guide. This helps a lot in this department. It is not illegal, as many pro golfers use this in tournaments, even though it is a controversial topic.

Remember that once you choose a line, you have to commit to it while you are on top of the ball.

Take Your Time

It can take from 30 to 60 seconds to gather the intricacies of the Green in question. Take your time to draw any type of conclusions about your line. If you even need more time than that, take it.

Ask for Opinions

Sometimes some extra perspective from somebody from the outside goes a very long way. When it comes to reading Greens, and Breaking Putts, it is always a good idea to ask for a third party’s opinion, be it a caddie, a competitor, or simply a knowledgeable person from the outside. Although important, try not to get yourself confused. Take it for what it is, and try to make your own read for the sake of your game.

Quit Overthinking

While precision is the name of the game in golf, it is advised not to overthink your line, as you are going to commit mistakes for your lack of decision. Make a good read, choose different angles, pick a line, commit to it, and take your aim!

Envision your Line and Commit

This point is related to the one mentioned above. Once you choose a line, commit to it! Otherwise, you run the risk of not hitting the putt as square as you should. What usually winds up happening is that the ball is hit either on the heel side of the putt or on the toe side, making the ball go elsewhere. This will also reduce its speed, so make sure to fully commit to the chosen line for the sake of the quality of your shot.

The Grain Determines the Game

Again, the grass is a very critical element of the game that more often than not goes overlooked. The speed at which the ball travels upon landing is determined in many cases by the grain of the grass it falls onto. It is very intuitive to think that the ball will travel further if it lands on the Green than if it does in the Rough. 

Hence, the stronger the grain, the harder the stroke should be. Else, your shot will be severely compromised if you don’t apply the needed force to make the shot effective. Being able to read this also yields results. Look for lighter or darker spots within the Green. If the putting surface is lighter in color then you're you're normally with the grain, if its darker you're probably against it.

Another piece of advice: If you check the grass at where the hole has been cut the ball will tend to go towards the rough side of the cut.

Additional Advice

Here we will also lay out some extra tips that you may find handy: Number one, when you think of a line and have already made up your mind about it, take a few practice strokes on the side to have a grasp of the speed the ball will take. Secondly, when shooting, especially when putting, try your best to move the whole body as a unit. This will eliminate any type of fluctuations regarding small muscles, and will deliver a smoother output of power. One last point is to make your routine your own - but try to follow through with it every time. A consistent routine will help you slow things down, settle your heart beat over a tricky putt, and get your mind into a meditative state.

Final Thoughts

Reading the Green and Breaking Putts is a fundamental skill to have. Although it takes some time to perfect it, it will pay dividends along the way. As we usually state, what matters is that you enjoy the process of becoming better at golfing.

You can find the best golf training tools and putting mirrors at back2basics.golf that suit your demands and that meets the highest standards of quality in the market.


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