- Posted by Will Stubbs
- On July 8, 2019
Geek Rating – 4/5
Read Time – 8 Mins
Watch Time – 1 Mins
Speed equates to friction the putting surface places on the ball. Shorter grass means less friction, which means less hold it has on the ball, equating to greater break. Stimp isn’t the best measure for understanding break, so we must perform our own way of calibrating to the green speed, by understanding break.
Augusta was an incredible event and landmark in the lives of everyone who’s followed Tiger Woods’ career. So let’s have a look into why the Masters never fails to create an amazing story, and for us it’s the wonderful design of the course. Augusta is known for it’s beautiful scenery, winding fairways and super fast greens, this year was no different. The first Major of 2019 created some fantastic examples where the greens played a pivotal part in many players rounds. So let’s explore and understand the method in the greenskeepers madness.
Broadcast on Sky Sports this week you may have seen the new Zen Eye technology being integrated with the GreenStage at their studio in London and Augusta. Our new projector technology helped us shed light (pardon the pun) on how the Tour Pros decoded the greens at this year’s Masters. What you saw on broadcasts is what is known as the putting vector. This is how we work out how the slope affects the movement of the ball as it rolls across the green’s surface. It helps us understand how putts of the same distance and gradient change dramatically in target line as the green speed increases. Here we consider a term called ‘coefficient of friction’, a fancy term for understanding how the ball interacts with the surface. The greens at Augusta are double mown in both directions, creating a much shorter, tighter and finer grass composition. This reduces the ball’s contact with the surface and as such the amount of friction the ball has with the grass when rolling. The decrease in friction creates an increase in how the ball is affected by the slope, leading to a greater amount of break.
This video with Nick Dougherty trying to replicate Koepka’s putt at The Masters shows just how the slightest change in speed on fast greens has such an affect on the outcome of the putt. For us to know how to put this into making us better players we need to take a jump back in time. Let’s discuss the science of putting from who we consider the godfather of green reading, H. A. Templeton. In his 1984 book, Vector Putting; The art and science of reading greens and computing break, he considers the putting from the fundamental laws of gravity. Bryson DeChambeau a long-time advocate of his work openly speaks of his process of using the putting vector to unlock the secrets of the greens. He used this perfectly on the par three 16th on Sunday at The Masters, where he used the green’s slope to roll in his career first hole in one. So, let’s find out how we begin to decode the greens and find out the vector on your home course.
Take a look at the image below…
You’ll need to find yourself a breaking putt, this needs to be approximately 2% planar (the same break at the start of the putt and the end – basically a flat tilt). Drop yourself a ball at 10ft distance from the hole, hit it straight at the hole and what you’re aiming for is it to finish 12 inches past the hole. To help you get the ball on line you can use a chalk line or a tee gate to help your aim. The key piece of information we’re looking for is the distance below the hole where the ball passes it by. This distance is our gravity vector and now forms the target point for all putts around the hole.
Time to put this to the test! Get yourself four balls out the bag and place them at the same distance from the hole at 10, 11, 1 & 2 o’clock. Keep your target point consistent to this distance above the hole and take aim for these four putts. This distance forms a constant target point on your greens on this type of break. As the speed of the green and length of the putt increases, a target point persists but its position moves up the gravity vector, i.e. directly uphill from the hole. Therefore with speedy the greens at Augusta, as the putting vector increases and the Tour Pros have to tackle a big increase in how much their putts break.
So now you have a little secret in your armoury that will help you become the Bryson DeChambeau of your golf club. As the course is constantly in growth and changing, this process is a great method to understanding the break of the greens every time you play. Consider this your pre-round routine for dialling in your target points for the day. Now go explore the different gradients of break on your course and see how this changes over the course of the day as the grass grows. Learn how different slopes or grasses affect the ball and take charge of your putting development, #ZenYourGame!