Most golfer's over there career will never put any thought into what green reading is all about. They will just instinctively go through a thought process (or not) before taking the ball back. Since reading Dave Pelz's book the "Putting Bible", I have come to realize that there can more of a process than just determining speed and line. I just wanted to refresh the art and science of reading greens to make more putts.
Green reading is the task of determining how the green itself affects the ball on its journey to the hole. First off, green reading takes time and through experience playing many rounds on many different golf courses, under many different conditions and circumstances will play a significant role in your ability to read greens over time. In other words the more you do it, the better you will get. The science of green reading takes these experiences and quantifies them with regard to how the ball actually reacts to the speed, slope, grain, and weather conditions (wind and rain). Of the determining factors in the science of green reading, speed is arguably the most important because the overwhelming effect it has on both the slope, grain and weather.
Everyone will develop their own personal method of green reading, but the following are some general points to mews over.
1) As you approach the green begin to notice the general lay of the green. Imagine water being poured near the hold and watch where the water will drain. If it is raining or has recently notice the areas that remain wet, notice drainage, low and high points. This will take some visualization.
2) As you begin to approach your ball and mark it (or whatever your routine may be) start to determine the amount of speed required to get the ball to the hole, determine whether the putt is uphill or downhill. How much will the ball break based on the speed required? Which way is the grass growing (grain)?
3) When it comes to speed I have found that its important to get the exact distance to the hole. Since, you can't carry a measuring tape on the course, pace off your putts. It better to know the putt is exactly 28ft, rather than 25 to 30ft, it will do wonders for your confidence and your lag putts.
4) An important factor to remember when reading break is that the slower a ball is rolls the more affected it is by slope and grain (This is usually nearer the hole).
5) Once you have determined the distance, speed, break, and grain begin your pre-shot routine. Take a few practice stokes, visualize the putt rolling in on the line you have chosen.
All this should take about 30seconds, I mean we are not pro's and pace of play is important on most golf courses, so don't over do it.
To close out I want to touch on a concept that I believe is an important part of reading putts. Remember this age old adage "No putt can go in, if it doesn't make it too the hole". What I mean here is make sure you give it a chance, get it to the hole. Well, Dave Pelz outlines in his book the "Putting Bible" that the optimum speed for a putt to drop is to role it 17inches past the hole. I won't go into the science, physics, logic behind it (That's for you to find out by reading his book), but he has proved it through testing and testing again. It seems like a weird statement to make doesn't it, "hit the ball 17inches past the hole and it will have the best chance at rolling in". Why not die it into the hole? Well, just think about how many putts you leave short., I bet is significantly more than you roll past the hole.
After I started writing this post I realized that this topic was not a 4 or 5 paragraph post, but more like a 15 to 20 pages in a book on putting. So, check out Dave Pelz's stuff if you want more info.
Like most of my posts, yes this one too ends abruptly.