Reading Greens & Lining Up Putts – Direction in Putting

A well-struck putt heading confidently to the cup begs just one question – “Why can’t I do that every time!?” Improve your odds for a great putt by starting the ball on line to the cup, getting it going in the right direction. Establish a process of reading a green and lining up a putt, use the process every time, and improvement will follow. Trust the process!


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  • It starts before you get there.
    You’ve made your chip, which is really a putt for position.  Now survey the situation as you walk to the green. Notice the overall contour of the land, predominant slope, drains, nearby water, etc. Is it breezy? Now is a good time to quickly walk around the green and collect info.
  • See the big picture
    Greens typically go with the tilt of the terrain. Are you on a hill?

  • Know your territory
    Old greens are typically low in front, high in the back.  In Florida, greens tend to tilt to the water. Newer greens are more complicated. Look for the drain.
  • Get your eyes low.
    Greens are constructed to drain off in two or three places. Stand in the low point of the green and get even lower by kneeling. This vantage point is not always located behind your ball.
  • Pay attention to others
    Watch the way the ball behaves when your partners chip and putt. Pay special attention to the area right around the cup.
  • Read with your feet.
    Is the green soft or firm, wet or dry?  Your feet can even tell you about the tilt you’re standing on.
  • Make a note.
    If you keep a golf journal, record information about specific greens.  Draw a green diagram with little arrows for little breaks and big arrows for big breaks.

You’ve determined where you want to putt the ball. Now get it going exactly there.

  • Mark it … before you start playing.
    Draw a semi-circle with a Sharpie pen on your ball, nice and tidy with an inexpensive aid designed for the task. Many pro golfers mark their balls for putting alignment (and tee shots).
  • Mark it … on the green.
    Use a ball marker so you can move and reset your ball.
  • Aim for alignment
    Get low again, placing the ball with one hand out in front of you. Aim the mark you’ve made on the ball exactly down the path you’ve determined to start your putt.  Getting low behind the ball gives a truer read than what you get when you are in your putting stance.
  • An intermediate target is a fine idea.
    Pick out a small distinguishing feature on your target path – a blade of grass, a brown spot.  Try aiming for it instead of for the hole if there is break.
  • Match it up.
    Take your stance, matching the little guide on the top of your putter with the line on your ball. Trust it. Hit it.
  • Side note.
    Take your practice strokes while you look at the hole or target.  This will help you find the right speed. Green reading is also essential for speed.  We must know if we are up hill or down hill.
  • Persevere!
    Establish a process for your putting and stick to it.  You’ll see results over time.

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