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Tee-to-Green Golf Tips – On Reading Greens

Reading a green is a definite science unto itself. For the most part, we concern ourselves with whether or not the ball will roll uphill, downhill, or on a relatively flat plane. That is the ‘speed’ part of the read. Then we look at what’s in the path of the ball as it moves toward the cup. Will it break in either direction due to uneven terrain or is it basically a straight-in shot?

At first glance, we may think that this is all that needs to be assessed. And it appears to be the rule rather than the exception. Unfortunately, there is a whole lot more to it when you get down to the nitty-gritty of actually reading greens.

Once on the putting surface, we can see obvious signs of imperfection caused by disease, ball marks and footprints or spike marks. Grass diseases can cause depressions between healthy grass and unhealthy grass.

Spikes can pull up bits of grass by the roots and cause a deflection. Ball marks caused by incoming shots from the air that remain un-repaired can create havoc with a putt line.

And then there’s the ‘lumpy doughnut’, that 3-inch ring around the cup that golfers try not to step on in order to protect the rim of the cup from crumbling. It’s the only un-stepped on part of the green around the hole and as a result, rises above the surrounding terrain causing an almost unnoticeable elevation. Ever see a putt that was sure to go in only to stop on the edge as though it had a set of disc brakes? That’s the ‘lumpy doughnut’ in action.

Tee to Green Golf Tips   On Reading Greens

You must also factor in how the grass is leaning. If you are putting into the lean of the blades you will need more speed on the putt. There are three main consideration to judging which way the grass is leaning.

Grass first seeks out a consistent source of moisture and will therefore lean toward any nearby body of water. If greens are blessed with top-notch irrigation and draining systems, the grain will tend to run in the direction the afternoon sun is moving. When neither moisture nor sun come to bear, grass will grow in the direction of a predominant wind if strong enough.

Much of this is scientific observation and does indeed come into play on the putting surface. But for the sake of sanity, unless you want to someday replace the best player on the tour, try to keep it simple.

  • Assess your distance and speed required.
  • Determine the break.
  • Groove a practice stroke about 3 times so you can ‘feel’ the amount of distance needed.
  • Keep your eyes focused on where the ball started for ‘one steamboat’ after contact for best results.
  • If you can grasp the subtleties of grains and such with relative ease, by all means, factor that in too.

One last thought. If you are outside of 8 feet from the pin, 2 putts would not be a bad thing. So don’t pressure yourself into trying to make a long one. Focus on getting the first stroke to finish where it’ll be an easy tap-in. Of course, if it ends up in the cup, that’s always good too.