The following Golf Lesson is reprinted with permission from the “Golf Beginner Guide”, a full 272 page resource for Golf Beginners. For only $29.50 you get an incredible amount of invaluable tips, lessons and advice – great value for money. Click the book cover below to find out more!
Putting is a combination of the mind, reading and execution. I have maintained my handicap over the last twenty years simply by increasing my prowess on the green, while age has negatively impacted most of the other parts of my game.
A golf green is like a book, not a sentence. If you are on a strange course and didn’t take a couple minutes on the practice green, it is like you are opening up a mystery novel at chapter 14 instead of the first page. That’s fine if you want to learn the “plot” during the next few chapters/greens, but your score and countenance will reflect your early confusion.
Let us assume that you took a little time on the practice green before assaulting the course. Do not try to fix flaws in your putting technique during your few minutes practicing. Instead, determine two things:
- The speed of the green (stimp)
- How much the ball breaks at that green speed.
So instead of concentrating on draining putts, get a solid feel for the speed. Try various distances along with uphill, downhill and side hill. Remember how much your ball breaks on your regular course. The amount of break for the same grade on a different course is linear with the difference in speed.
Example: If you have to putt 20% softer on this different course, your ball will break 20% more for a given length of putt. Why? Gravity has that much more time to pull your ball downhill because you had to hit it slower. A ten-inch break on your home course will now break twelve inches.
Ok, we are on the course and you have hit the green with your approach shot. As you walk toward the green, take in the whole scene. Greens are built to shed water, not to hold it and have water pool every time the green is watered or when it rains. There is a scheme to remove water from all greens. Look over the whole green to see where to water will run off. This can be more than one place. Hint: On hilly or mountainous courses, 95% of the time water will flow away from the hill.
If there is a pond, stream, etc. near the green, the water run-off scheme will almost always be designed to allow water to eventually drain to it. Ever hear the phrase, “Breaks toward the water”?
Greens are also generally built to make us feel good, so most will have a slant toward the tee box in order to better hold approach shots. Beware of the slope of the green near greenside bunkers. There will normally be some slope away from the bunker for a distance.