Learn to Read Putts Better Than a Pro
We don’t have to go this far to understand the break on our putts. Our eyes can trick us into seeing things that are not there. There is a better way to understand break and what a putt will do. This simple formula will not only help you sink more putts but will speed up play. Once you understand the premise you will be making three putts a thing of your past.
All greens have slope. The course architect maintains this slope on all the greens throughout the course. Slope is built in to allow the greens and course to drain. This stops puddles forming on the greens and allow the green to remain playable when it rains. Slope has influence on break and once we know the degree of slope on the course we can then use that information to understand break. Most greens slope from back to front. The average slope on greens is somewhere between one and three degrees. The max for slope is six degrees. Once the slope gets steeper than this, the ball will not stay on the green.
There are greens that have portions of the green with higher slope but the overall the green will not. This helps drain the green of water and keeps the ball on the green on putts and approach shots. If we know the exact slope of the greens on the course we can then apply a formula that allows use to calculate break. This formula will work on the entire course because the course designer keep this break consistent on all of the greens. This is done because of the lay of the land across the entire property of the golf course. All land has slope of some kind and golf courses use this slope to drain so the course remains playable.
Now that we have a basic understanding of slope and it’s function let’s look at how it can help us sink more putts. The best way to measure slope is using a simple string level and a ten foot piece of string and a tee. Take one end and tie it to the tee. The other end tie a knot six inches from the end. Below the knot use a marker and place a mark every inch to the end of the string. Now place the string level on the string at the end where the knot is. Next we need to find the only straight up hill putt to the hole. You can do this on the practice green or any green on the course. Once you have found this straight uphill putt place the end with the tee in the ground at the outside center of the hole on that line.
Now pull your string out the the end where the knot is and place your level on the string. Lift the string with the level on it off the ground until the level shows the bubble level. Hold it level with one hand and pull the excess string down to the ground. Here is where you will now measure with the inch marks you made on the sting. How many inches is it to the ground from the knot when the sting is level. Is it one inch, two three? The number of inches it is is the amount of degrees of the slope. So let’s say it was two inches. Now you know that the slope on all of the greens on the entire golf course is now two degrees. Next we will use this calculation to determine break or where we will aim when we putt.
We will now use this simple formula. For every foot your ball is from the hole will count as a measurement of a half inch up the fall line. The fall line is that straight up hill putt that goes to the hole. We can think of the fall line as a line that goes through the entire green and intersects with the hole.
Let’s look at a photo to show how this works. If your ball is twelve feet from the hole and the slope is two degrees. Here is how we will determine where we need to aim for gravity to take over and the putt to fall. Of course speed is a factor but we will talk about that in a few moments. Take the amount in distance the ball is from the hole. Here it is twelve feet. Times that by the degrees of slope. In this case two degrees. Twelve times a half inch times 2 equals six inches. Now measure six inches up the fall line above the cup. This is where you will need to aim for the putt to drop.
So many players aim to low and miss the putt below the hole. This will allow is the speed is off slightly for the putt to fall towards the hole not away from it. Speed can affect this so here is a good rule of thumb when calculating your speed. If you miss the putt it should roll between a foot to two feet past the hole. If it rolls too fast the ball will end up above the hole. If it is slower he ball will fall below the hole and the result will be short. If it is short it will never go in. If it would have rolled past the hole you are upping the chance that it will go in the hole if it is on line. This method of putting is “The Putting Zone”.
Bernard Sheridan is a certified Putting Zone Coach and is located in Naples, Florida at Impact Zone Golf. For more information and to learn how to putt better than a PGA Pro contact Bernard Sheridan at 239-236-5536.