Better Putting – Tips for Reading Golf Course Greens

Better Putting – Tips for Reading Golf Course Greens

Spring has arrived and for a lot of people elsewhere in the country that means plenty of golf on the horizon through the summer. Golf in Palm Desert will be winding down soon here as this part of California starts to see searing temps, but greenskeepers in other regions are getting to work in preparation for all those ready to arrive and get their round in. Speaking of greens, it is always frustrating when you are strong off the tee, make a great approach onto the green, but then see your first attempt at a put go wrong and unexpectedly so.

Any golfer is going to tell you that putting is often deceptively challenging, and that is always the case when you are on a hole that has a tough green, a fast one, or one that is maddening for no explainable reason. Such is the challenge of golf, but in the big picture it is a part of why we all love the game and what drives us to become better at it. Certain holes here at Palm Desert Golf course may have greens that frustrate you too, so what we’re going to do here is share tips for better putting that you can put into practice right away.

Before we do, we will quickly say that it is not too hot yet and there are golf courses in the Coachella Valley like ours here at Palm Desert Golf, where you are still able to get an enjoyable round in. Some fellas and ladies don’t mind the heat at all too, and when you are a local here you definitely do become accustomed to it. As always you can book a tee time online and if there are other parts of your game that need work too then we have golf lessons with instructors that really know their stuff and 100% get your desire to improve.

Hole Out Faster

Right then, let us get right into how to putt better in golf. It is so easy to admire the exquisite command of the ball that pro golfers have when you watch them on TV, and it is something that a lot of us can only dream of having. It is a treat to watch a great golfer putt, and when people who don’t golf watch them, they may ask why they squat down for a look before making their first putt attempt after reaching the green.

They are definitely not stretching there, although it may make their back feel good, nonetheless. They are reading the green, and it is something that goes a long way to getting lower scores on each hole when you learn how to do it well. So here are six tips for better putting golf that you can put into practice the next time you have arrived in the green and want nothing more than for the ball to get in the hole asap, preferably with the next stroke!

1. Study the Green Before You Arrive

Start by reading the green before you even step onto it. You will be walking towards it following your approach, and as you are doing that should be taking note of how the green looks from a distance. What many golfers find is that you can more easily discern how a green will flow when you observe it from something from a distance.
While you have this perspective you can look at the green over from front to back and across it to find the highest and lower points and most often you will find that the green flows with the rest of the land around it. When you start to read the green before you get to it, you are prepping your brain to think about what the putt will look like. A better putt coming up? Likely.

2. Walk Your Putt

Another good idea for reading greens effectively is to walk the putt. We see golfers doing this quite a bit at our Palm Desert Golf course, and there is a good chance someone tipped them off to the advantage of it the same way we are doing it for you here. It is exactly as it sounds – you progress along the path your putt is going to take and make notes about how you think the ball will move, where it might break, how it might accelerate or decelerate etc.
Walking the putt is a good idea for two primary reasons. First, you get to feel the undulation of the green below your feet, and by pacing out the distance you get a more natural inclination for how much power you should be swinging through the ball with. The more you putt, and the better you get at figuring out distances on the green, the better you will get at understanding how much power should be behind your putt.

3. The ‘Water Method’ for Slope Analysis

You are going to need some imagination here, but most people are very capable with their imagination and that is a good thing. So here we go; imagine you are filling a cup with water, and as you add too much water to the cup it begins to overflow. It overflows onto the green and as you imagine it doing so, you are visualizing how it would move. As we all know, water will always find the path of least resistance, and when it comes to a flood that part of the equation can be devastating.
When it comes to better putting in golf though, this visualization can be hugely beneficial. You want to be putting your ball on the path of least resistance too. This more abstract method will show you which way the green is flowing.

4. Pick Your Middle Point

‘Every putt is a straight putt’ is an expression that every serious golfer will have heard already. While that’s not true in the literal sense of it all, it’s more of mindset that is helpful to have in understanding that you have it within you to assess and correctly identify the best and most natural path for the ball to take it as it comes off your putter face. The way you do this most effectively is to find a putt middle point. This can be incorporated into aimpoint putting, which is a very popular concept with golfers these days.

This will be done by reading the green and establishing a rough procession trajectory. In your head you are imagining that path your golf ball will move along. You will then assess where the midpoint of that length is, and that is where you try to put the ball with the right mix of aim and power in the putter. You do this with the understanding that the undulation of the golf green will then move the ball right into the hole. Or darn close to it at the very least.

Some golfers take note of some visual cue in the grass where their midpoint is to refer to it again if they must refocus on the putt again for whatever reason.

5. Read Grains

Each putting green is going to have a grain to it, in much the same way a length of wood is going to have a grain. On a golf course green in Palm Desert or anywhere else it is going to be created by the way the grass is mowed, but there can be other factors too – including the type of golf course grass. As you look to see the grain of the green you can start by seeing if there are any changes to the color of the grass. Walk around the green to find which way the grain is flowing in relation to your golf ball – are you putting with the grain, or against it.

When the grass is laying in the same direction as where your putt is going, your putt is down grain and as such you are putting with it. One good indicator of this is a lighter or shiny color in the grass. Putts going down grain are going to move faster, so you should be going through the ball with less power.

See the grass laying in the opposite direction and you can understand your putt is going up or against the grain. If you see the grass is darker or duller it is likely you are putting against the grain and doing so means your putt is going to be slowed naturally, so you adjust by putting a little more pep into it. That can be difficult to gauge when you are putting downhill but remember this is supposed to be challenging to begin with. It is golf! Remember that gravity overpowers the grain every time.

6. Break Up Long Putts

The prospect of long putts can be daunting for a lot of less experienced golfers, especially when you are hoping to save par or take a single bogey at the very worst. Our golf course here in Palm Desert does not have anything like the super long and expensive greens you will find at St. Andrews across the pond for example, but even semi-long greens can be challenge because so much can change between your ball and the hole.

Longer putts make reading the green extremely challenging since so much can change between your ball and the hole. Here is what is recommended – break long putts into two or three sections. We talked about walking out your putt earlier, and if after doing so you can see that it is over ten paces, then a good idea to break it up in your mind into 2 or 3 segments.

Focus on what you need to do with the club, trajectory, and swing power for the first segment, and then assess separately what is likely to occur with the 2nd and 3rd portions of it as it gets nearer to hole ideally. Read the putts just like you would normally, and again determine your middle point for each section. This approach to putting is not easy to utilize, but you will find that over time you start to get better at it.

The last thing we will mention with better golf putting is that if you get out on the course very early in the day or late in it you may find that you have more time to assess your putt and put some of these ideas into practice. We’ve always got early and late tee times available here at Palm Desert Golf and Country Club and there is always something great about starting your day with a round of golf. Come, see us and do not be surprised if your putting is improved big time.

Rate this post