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Question on Putting:

Can you give some green reading advice?
--Johnny P. from Fayetteville, NC

Hi Johnny,

The majority of green reading success lies in your preparation and pre-shot routine.

The very first point I'd like to make is that you should make sure to always visit the putting green before you play. It is important to roll a number of 3 footers in the hole to warm up your stroke and gain confidence by seeing the ball successfully drop in the cup. After that it's important to get a good feel for the speed that day. I suggest rolling some putts across the green to the fringe. This takes the pressure of making the putt off, yet still allows you to get a feel for the speed.

Now that you know the speed and are prepared, lets take a look at your pre-shot routine on the course.

The first order of business is to get a good read of the surrounding area as you approach the green. In our DVD Putting Principles, PGA Tour player Jay Delsing and I cover this as one of my 5 principles of putting. Look for the highest and lowest points of the green. Also look for creeks, lakes or water which will be the low areas and grass will grow towards them. Note that if there are mountains in the area the ball will usually break away from the mountain. This overall picture that you soak in as you approach your ball to mark it gives your brain an enormous amount of information.

After you have marked your ball and are awaiting your turn make sure to make a full circle around the hole. As you walk you can study the break and feel the slope of the land under your feet. This will give you a good assessment of how uphill or downhill the put will be. Be sure to squat down on the opposite side of the hole to take a look.

With this routine (and it should only take a few seconds once you get used to it) and having learned the speed on the putting green, you should at this point be able to make a pretty good guess at where to aim the ball and how hard to hit it.

Be sure to check out our section on putting under instruction to learn more. Also, I recommend that you start putting your scores in the game tracker and enter your practice sessions so we can better help you achieve your goals.


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