Straight putts are nice, but most of the putts you're going to face will have some kind of break to them. You'll lower the number of putts you face each round if you have a green-reading routine for every situation. Here's how to do it.
1. Get the big picture
As you approach the green, take a mental inventory of its general shape. Is it sloping toward your ball? Away from it? Does the green fall off on one side? These larger features will take priority over smaller breaks when determining how your ball will roll.
2. Determine the distance
Pace the distance from your ball to the hole, just as you would on the fairway. One rule of thumb says that each foot of distance requires one inch of backswing with your putter.
4. Determine the break
5. Put it all together
Reading break from off the green
How the break of a green will affect your putt or chip from the fringe depends on how much time your shot spends in the air. As a general rule. the more air you put under the ball, the less you have to worry about the breaks.
• If you're putting form the fringe, or hitting a low or high shot that's going to land on the fringe before rolling onto the green, play the same amount of break you would for a regular putt, but be sure to take into account the direction of the fringe-grass grain-dark grass (the grain is against you) will slow your ball down, while shiny grass (the grain is with you) will speed your ball up.
\n• If you're hitting a low, running shot onto the green with a low-lofted iron, fairway wood or hybrid, the amount of break will depend on the slope in your landing area. Low shots hit with these clubs will be traveling faster than those hit with wedges and will be less affected by the slope in your line, at least until the ball slows down as it approaches the hole.
\n• If you're hitting a high shot onto the green with a short-iron or wedge, keep in mind that shots hit with these clubs will be traveling slower than those hit with less-lofted irons. which means that they'll be more affected by the slope in your line.
|TODD ANDERSON is director of instruction at Sea Island Golf Club on St. Simons Island, Ga.|