- Posted by Will Stubbs
- On September 18, 2019
Geek Rating – 2/5
Read Time – 10 Mins
Watch Time – 2 Mins
Green reading is under coached and misunderstood in any golf lesson. Apply simple principles of gravity, green speed & grade with perception and you’ve got a robust model. Start from the hole and work back to the ball. The zero break line forms our understanding of gravity. Friction of coefficient is the relationship of the ball and the green as it travels, this determines break. Search strategies are developed around these two factors. Our promise… you’ll read greens faster, more effective and more accurately.
Green reading is probably the most under coached or educated parts of the game. Talk to a coach and they could probably tell you Dustin Johnson’s ground reaction forces, dynamic loft at impact and how that equates to extreme ball speed. Sweet, but not going to lie pal, it ain’t going to help me get the ball in the hole any better. So why is putting, especially green reading such a dark art that’s not discussed or coached as in depth as the full swing? Our perspective is that numbers have become king in coaching and become a reference point to orientate sessions around. Traditionally putting, particularly green reading is a very personalised ad-hoc process and we feel that’s because it hasn’t currently got many constant coaching principles to self-organise around. So here’s our take on green reading. It starts with a few key things that form the basis of our coaching principles.
Key Green Reading Principles:
- Gravity is King
- Green grade and speed are co-dependent
Let’s start with gravity, this affects the roll of the ball and always runs directly down hill. The zero break line is our most simple and powerful weapon in understanding gravity’s affect on the ball. It’s easy to see, sense and visualise. All starts with taking a walk around the hole and identifying the high point. Stand right at that point and roll a ball towards the hole, if it didn’t break en route then you’re right on the zero break line. This is like a magnet drawing the ball towards the hole, where any makable putt around the hole will break into the cup along this line. The video shows two great examples of the zero break line in action on the tour. Adam Hadwin’s putt is a fantastic example of the zero break line and visualisation in perfect harmony!
Tip: For longer putts that cross different slopes you need to find the zero break line for each of those slopes. This starts you on your way to creating your own green maps. Quick and simple to do you can make them easily by drawing all the zero break lines. From here you know every putt will break towards them if you hit the ball from them. As you get better at perceiving the zero break lines, the quicker it will become and you’ll be able to read the high and low points en route to the surface from your approach shot, essentially reading the putt before you’ve even got there.
Now we’ve got the gravity nailed, let’s dial in our target point. Templeton noted that 60% of the break for average putts occurs in the final 3 feet of the hole. As such we need to consider how the ball interacts with the surface and in particular as it slows during the decay phase of the putt. Putts have a three stage characteristic: skid, roll and and finally decay.
The final phase of the putt has the greatest amounts of break because the coefficient of friction rises as the ball starts to embed itself further into the grass and gravity takes affect on it’s momentum. Therefore, be wary on faster greens as there will be less friction and gravity + slope will have a greater affect on the break of the putt.
TIP: Remember to play to the day, every green’s topography reacts with the ball differently as the surface is never the same due to humidity, surface moisture, grass type, surface damage and so on. Therefore when reading the putt make sure you examine the environment and particularly around the hole to aid your decision making.
Final step, begin to explore the hole around the final 3ft of the putt to understand how the slope will affect the ball in the final stage of the putt. Now you have this image in your head stand back on the zero break line looking back at your ball. Using your mental model of the final phase of the putt draw a line back to the ball and stand on the zero break line where this creates a straight line between yourself and ball. This is your target point, commit to this and strike true. If you don’t commit to your target then you can’t review the process as you’ve altered your perception of the task. If you can’t commit, then step away and start over again. As Yoda said:
“Do or do not, there is no try.” – Commit and then review
Green Reading Process:
- Start from the hole and identify the zero break line
- Examine the green topography
- Explore the slope around the hole from 3ft
- Read the putt from the zero break line back to the ball
- Commit to your target point on the zero break line
The final piece in the puzzle is developing pace and this comes down to perception. Everyone does this in their own way as perception is highly personal, in other words everyone sees the world in a different way. We’ll be exploring the Zen way of doing this later in our blog, so look out for our way to dial in distance control.