How To Read Golf Greens Better - Clarkes Golf

How To Read Golf Greens Better

We’ve all been there.

You get to the green to set up a birdie putt. You line up, you swing, and at the last minute, the ball veers off either side and misses by millimetres.

How to judge a golf green is one of the best things you can learn to start lowering your score instantly. And while it takes some practice and needs a lot of judgement, it’s not that hard to do.

So, let’s get into it.

What you need to consider when judging a green

There are three key elements you’ll be looking at when judging a green:

1 – The slope: Are you hitting uphill or downhill?

2 – The grain or condition of the grass: Is it wet or dry, or longer or shorter?

3 – The break: This is the natural curve in the ground that determines the direction the ball goes once you’ve hit it.

Judging the slope angle

Judging the slope is relatively easy and is something you can start to think about as you approach the green.

Find the highest point of the green and see where your ball position is in relation to the hole.

Are you looking at hitting uphill, downhill or potentially both? Or is the green flat?

Once you’re on the green, you can take a closer look at the angle of the slope and where your ball is in relation to it.

For example, if you’re at the bottom of a high-angle slope, you’ll need more power to get to the hole than if you were halfway up.

Similarly, you might need to hit up a slope initially, but the hole is at the bottom of a downward angle.

In this case, you’ll only need enough power to get over the slope's peak, and then the natural downward angle will take care of the rest.

2 – Judging the grain or condition of the grass

The grain refers to the direction the grass lies in relation to the direction you’re putting.

So, for example, if the grass is pointing directly towards the hole, you’re putting down the grain.

On the other hand, if the grass is pointing towards you, you’ll be putting into the grain.

Or the grass could be pointing left or right of the hole.

The grain can help you determine how much friction the ball will experience as it travels along the ground, helping you figure out how much power to use or how much direction you’ll need to compensate for.

3 – Judging the break

The break is the curve in the ground that determines which direction your ball will travel.

For example, if the ground breaks to the left and you hit your ball straight, it will naturally move to the left in line with the ground.

Sometimes you’ll find greens with multiple breaks that go in different directions between your ball in the hole.

These breaks can sometimes cancel each other out, creating a straight line.

The best or easiest way to judge the break on a green is to look at your ball from the opposite side of the hole.

From this angle, you’ll see how the ground curves and adjust your shot accordingly.

Alternatively, you can kneel directly behind your ball and look at the ground running to the hole – this will also make it easy to see how the ball is likely to move.

You could also judge the break using your feet – for example, is one foot lower than the other?

However, you should be careful with this, as you could accidentally create divots in the ground that could knock your ball off track.

It’s best to get lower to the ground when judging the break (which is why you see many professionals kneeling as low as possible).

Compensating for green conditions

Once you’ve walked the green, you’ll be able to adjust your putt accordingly.

Sometimes you might get lucky and need to do nothing more than hit the ball straight.

Most times, there’ll be adjustments you’ll need to make, whether it’s hitting the ball harder to beat a slope or tackling wet grass, or adjusting more towards the break of the ground, so your ball doesn’t move away from the hole.

Etiquette when assessing the green

While you should do what you need to do when assessing a green to increase your chances of making your putt, there are some points of etiquette you should consider, particularly as it relates to other players.

1 – Don’t take forever

While you should take your time to assess the green and give yourself a good chance of making your shot, remember that there will be other players waiting for you, so don’t take ages and hold other people up unnecessarily.

2 – Don’t trample others’ putting lines

While walking around the green, note where other people’s balls are and what lines they’ll be hitting. You don’t want to stand in the path of a ball and accidentally create divots.

Improve your golf game with Clarkes Golf

If you want to practice putting or improve any other part of your golf game, come see us at our dedicated golf centre in Rainford, St Helens, which includes a dedicated driving range, putting green and par 3 course.

And if you think some new golf clubs or equipment is needed to help lower your scores and make those weekend rounds more enjoyable, you’ll find a large stock of all the latest clubs, clothing and accessories from the sport’s major brands.