Golf – Learning to Read the Green

There are many things that can affect the outcome of a game of golf but many golfers will tell you that putting is the crucial part of any game and truly sorts the “men from the boys” or the “ladies from the girls”.

Your ability to sink a putt depends very largely upon your ability to read the green and this in turn is a mix of physics and artistry which will only come with study, practice, time and experience, but here are a few tips to get you going.

The first thing that you have to realize is that you cannot read the green by standing at the perimeter and gazing out across the 10 or 15 feet to the hole. The higher up you are, and the farther away you are, the less you will see, so you have to get close to the surface of the green and that means crouching down or, better still, getting down on your knees.

From your low vantage point take a close look at the area between your ball and the cup and try laying a club along the line to the cup and looking carefully along that line.

Look for any hills or valleys and signs of curves to either the left or right. Try to estimate how much of a slope (downhill or uphill) lies between your ball and the cup. Also, get a feel for whether or not the grass is damp and, if so, just how damp. Even the smallest amount of moisture can reduce the distance traveled by the ball compared to that on a dry surface.

Just as important is the mow height and whether or not the green has been double cut. Double cutting simply means that the green has been cut first in one direction and then again at right angles to the first cut. Double cutting can alter the distance traveled by the ball by several inches over a single cut. Similarly, the height of the cut is important and lowering the mow height by as little as one-sixteenth of an inch can increase the roll of the ball.

More difficult to judge is whether or not the green has been rolled, which has the effect of compacting the soil, increasing ground hardness and again affecting the roll of the ball.

Once you’ve assessed all of these factors it is then a question of deciding in just what direction you need to hit the ball and with what force in order to make the putt and, at this point, there is only one way to know – practice and learn.

Take time to practice on both the practice greens and the course greens when you’re not in active play and don’t forget to learn from the experience of others. Watch your partner putting and do your best to analyze just why his put did, or did not, sink.

Of course it’s not always easy to practice during play without holding up others but most courses have slow days, or slow times of day, and you should try to take advantage of these to get in as much practice as you can.

Reading the green well is not an easy skill and will take time to master but, once you have it taped, you can easily reduce your scores by several strokes.

Source by Donald Saunders

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