Green Reading 101 :What Time Is It?

Spider Man

How is your green reading ability? Do you hit putts on the line that you perceive as the one you are aiming at only to look up and the ball breaks a lot more than you imagined? You are not alone. When I give a putting lesson, there are 2 parts to successful putting. 1)Proper Mechanics that allow you to start the ball on the line that you are aiming and 2) Reading enough break to allow the putt to have a chance to go in. For a sake of this post, I am going to assume that you can start the ball on your intended line most of the time but are having trouble with reading breaks. I am going to give you some ideas and a process that will help you make more putts and lower your scores.

In 2004, I was fortunate enough to work with and spend some time with Sea Islands’ putting expert, Mike Shannon. A lot of what I teach I stole (or borrowed) from him. Mike has worked with many of the players on the P.G.A. tour so this information has been tested and it works. The first thing that you have to do is discover how you process information and how your vision works. There are two types of putters: LINEAR AND NON-LINEAR.

I don’t have enough time to go extensively into each but I will tell you that 85% of all tour players are Non-Linear. In simplest terms…….Linear putters (left brain) see straight lines and putt to spots. Non-Linear putters see breaks and curves (right brain)

To start my green reading lesson I always start with: 90 PERCENT OF ALL AMATEUR GOLFERS UNDER READ PUTTS (MISS ON THE LOW SIDE)

Lets see if we can get that more like 50/50. So here is the process that I want you to try the next time you read a putt.

1. Start reading the putt from a big picture perspective as soon as you get out of the cart. Visualize where the water would drain, highest side/low side.

2.  Once you have an idea of the direction the ball is going to break, walk to the low side of the putt about halfway in between the ball and the hole. (ex. right to left putt, walk to the left side)….This will give your eyes a great look at the true distance of the putt. Key: It will allow you to achieve your first objective…..see if the putt is uphill or downhill or both (speed elements)

3.  Go to the back of the hole for a quick look (this is the most accurate view)

4. You should by now have an idea of the break. Now To The Time Part

5. INSTEAD OF PICKING A SPOT ON YOUR LINE OF PUTT….TRY THIS. IMAGINE THE THE HOLE IS A CLOCK. THE FRONT OF THE HOLE IS 6 OCLOCK. (get the picture). On a right to left putt, if the ball will enter the cup at 4 Oclock…..Instead of picking a spot on the line of your putt, USE YOUR INSTINCTS AND EYES TO ADJUST YOUR AIM TO start the ball enough to the right to make the ball go in at 4 oclock. I am telling you, the first time you do this it will be a freeing experience. No more getting locked in to a spot that has nothing to do with the target. Your speed has to come first and I guarantee it will improve. Start playing enough break and work on your speed and you will be holing big 40 foot snakes before you know it. See my putting archives (putting boot camp) for additional drills to help you with your speed.

****Incorporate some rehearsal strokes while looking at the entry point. This will enhance your spacial awareness and depth perception.

See you on the lesson tee,


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