Reading the Green-Science and Art

Green Reading Perplexing?

My wife tells me that I should not become too overly-invested in having Paula Creamer give me a lag putt lesson this Christmas, as Ms. Creamer probably has other plans for the holidays. I asked about my birthday this spring, and got the same answer. That dream being dashed, she suggested that I be more proactive, and put more time in studying the art of reading greens, and since she is usually right, I agreed.

putt 1What I have found, of course, is an enormous body of information on the subject, written by various club and touring pros. A lot of it was already familiar to me, except that I never remember to do it on the course, or the prospect of slow play forbids it. I’m sure that the tour guys pick up the necessary information a lot faster than I do when lining up a putt. Familiar or not, I was reminded of how utterly undisciplined we amateurs can be in the shortest, and sometimes costliest, part of the game.

Golf Simplified logo

Somewhere in my mind, I knew that a light sheen meant I was putting against the grain, and that a dark one meant I was putting with it. The idea that a green set high in the area where a breeze comes through probably means a faster putt? Had no idea, no clue. They tell us to sense the firmness and crunchiness of the green when we first walk on it, and I never got around to doing that much. I did try to tie the green into the prevailing climate, but nothing so specific. Subconsciously, I must have approximated it, though. It makes too much sense.


putt 2The idea that the grass leans to a body of water, like the ocean, or leans toward the mountains? I guess the slope and water would fall from the heights like that. To see which side of the cup the grass is growing over? The course I usually play won’t let you get around that. After they mow the green, I think somebody visits all eighteen greens with a pair of barber scissors and gives the surrounding grain a crew cut.

Grain mostly affects a slow-moving ball, and in any dry climate, I’m a natural lagger, not truly believing in the putting line I’ve chosen, any more than I believe I’ll win the lottery next week (I’ll try to improve in that regard, but that’s another story). As for being a spot putter, choosing a target other than the hole, and preferably on the way to the hole, why would I have any more confidence in that than I do in the place where the flag usually sits? Perhaps a closer spot, one situated in a crucial part of the break improves one’s odds – how would I know?

The prevailing opinion seems to be that when lining up a putt, get as low to the ground as you can. At my age, with my knees feeling the way they sometimes do, that could get me a ride to the hospital where I could be unfolded by medical professionals. Looking at the putt from the low side is fine. One author tells me I had enough balance to walk on the green without falling over, so I should have enough sense to tell the low from the high side. I’ll be sure to try that next time.

Winter Flight Deals - WINTER15

putt 3 The guys who know assure me that I should get far away from the ball so that I can see the putt in its larger perspective – how like life, provided I don’t get so far away  that I can’t see the ball, the break, the hole, or my playing partners. Bifocals or trifocals, blended lenses included, are just as detrimental to a putt of any length as a gnarled putter bought out of barrel at a yard sale.

Daunting as all this might be, I am determined to improve my green-reading, inspired by Paula’s tournament winning miracle putt of last week, and already managing the disappointment that she will not be around this December to explain it to me personally.

New Customers Get $25 Credit After First Booking

I am left with the thought that putting is like the pursuit of excellence in many other things. You’ve just driven 250, hit a medium to long iron (or a daring three-wood), and chipped on to a reasonable distance from the hole, but to be truly excellent, you have to master this smaller, more geographically precise, finessed, small-muscle task before joining the elite percentage in this game. If you reached this par 5 in three or four, you’re reasonably proficient, but now we need to prove our mettle at another level. If we made just a handful of these putts per round, or avoided just a handful of three or four-putts, how different our scorecards would look – and Paula knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

15 + 19 =

CommentLuv badge