The Dave Pelz “Secrets of Reading Greens” Project

Dave Pelz, whose “Short Game Bible” sold over a million copies, and was on the N.Y. Times best sellers list, has a new project in the works — a book that incorporates videos to teach people how to read greens. He’s using a KickStarter project to get it going, starting May 8, 2017.

In 10m 15s into this interview Pelz estimates that the interviewer (who was a scratch golfer at one time) has made or seen about 240,000 putts in his lifetime, At 22m, 30s he Pelz notes that he himself (who had a 4-year golf scholarship) has made or observed about 10 million putts — and yet both admit that neither of them was any better than anyone else at reading greens! In Comprehensive Keys to the Green, of course, I make the case that once you know how to derive accurate feedback from those putts, you’ll develop amazing skill at predicting break and getting the speed right, in just a fraction of the time that those two have spent observing putts.

However, Pelz goes on to say that there are 4 fundamentals that people need to understand, to read greens well. His plan is to create a series of videos that show people what they need to know, with a book to link them together. But because the project requires a lot of startup money for the videos, he can’t do it for a typical book advance. He is therefore creating a KickStarter project to get it going. The way it works is this:

  • Contributors send $80 to the KickStarter folks.
  • If there are enough contributors to finance the project (he needs $212k), he gets the money, minus a small fee.
  • If not, the money you chipped in goes back to you.
  • If the project goes forward, you get the book and the videos in November or December of this year, before Christmas.
  • After Christmas, the same deal will cost $120 — and he vows that no one will see the videos before you and his other contributors do.

In the same interview, he points out that most people have the ability to putt down the line intend, with a reasonable approximation of the speed they want. The many misses, then, occur because the player didn’t anticipate the break correctly. In other words, the player didn’t read the green accurately.

He also says that the way most people evaluate the break (by squatting down behind their ball) is the wrong way to go about the process. I couldn’t agree more! In Comprehensive Keys to the Green, I’ve argued that you first want to find the fall line from below the hole and that, after you’ve established that, you want to find the target to aim it, ideally from a position that is the same distance from the hole as your ball, and at 90 degrees to the fall line — because while the ideal target does depend on your distance from the hole, it does not depend on the angle you’re coming from. 

Still, I’m depending on feedback from earlier putts (whether yours or someone else’s) to establish that target (which means, in effect, to anticipate how far the ball will break). Some of the feedback comes from the green you’re on, but most of it comes from the thousands of putts you’ve made and observed before — which just naturally turns into skill, in ways you can’t help, because that is the way your brain works — but it only works that way when you know how to properly evaluate the results of those putts!

In other words, I claim that once you know how to get the appropriate feedback, you will get very good, very quickly. But it is at least possible that Pelz has found a way to make a good initial determination, independent of earlier observations. If so, predicting the amount of break would no longer depend on feedback derived from experience. (I’m a little skeptical that it’s really possible to do that in some useful way on the course, but if anyone can figure out how it can be done, I’m sure it would be Dave Pelz. So I’m willing to take a chance, to find out.)

On the other hand, whatever system you use to read greens and predict break, knowing how to evaluate the results means you get the feedback you need to determine how well you did in that part of the game. As mentioned in my book, those are the two things you need to know: Did you have the right read?, and Did you have the right speed?. Once you can separate putting results into those two components, you’ll be able to improve each skill independently, to the degree necessary.

It is worth noting, too, that when Pelz says, “No one practices green reading” as he does in the interview, I claim that what he really means is that “No one knows how to properly evaluate their putts.” Because once you do, every putt gives you practice in green reading! Because every putt tells you how well you anticipated the break, in addition to how well you made the stroke.

In the same interview, at 28m, 45s, Pelz estimates that:

  • 50% of putts are inside 6 feet
  • 67% (2/3) of putts are inside 9 feet
  • 72% (3/4) of putts are inside 12 feet

So clearly, having the right read from 12′ and in will make a big difference in your scoring — and anything that improves your initial read can only help to lower your scores. I’m sure that whatever Pelz has to say will be interesting, and well worth the investment. So I’m adding my 80 bucks to the KickStarter effort. 

To support his effort, go to his Green Reading page on or after May 8th.

Copyright © 2017, TreeLight PenWorks

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