- Four Rules for Reading Greens and Anticipating Break
- How to Adjust Your Putts
- Adjust Your Putts as Green Speed Changes!
You’ve learned how to read greens and evaluate your putts. Now you need to know a few simple rules you can use to adjust your putts.
If you’ve read Comprehensive Keys to the Green, or the previous article in this series, you know how to evaluate each putt to tell if your line was off, or your speed was off (or both), and by how much in either case. Now all you need are the rules you can use to make adjustments to your next putt.
As you make those adjustments, and continue acquiring feedback, your putting just naturally becomes better — and maybe even far better than you might expect. (Because, as human beings, that’s what we do! The only thing that stands in the way is the right kind of feedback!)
The Simple Rules
If you’re putting on a green with no grain, or the grain is working the same way it was on your last putt, the adjustments are simple:
- If your speed was off, putt more firmly or more softly on the next putt, depending on which way you were off.
(Your instincts told you that a given speed was the right speed. Use the feedback to modify your instincts.)
- If your read was off, allow more or less break on the next putt, depending on which way you were off.
In general, of course, both aspects will be off to some degree. But the most important feedback you can take is about speed. If your speed is right, your next putt will be far easier than it would be if your speed was far off. So you’ll want focus on that aspect of your putting first. (Of course, if your read is way off, you’ll want to adjust that. But all things being equal, you want to focus on speed adjustments.)
After a while, your putting speed will be pretty reliable. At that point, you can begin fine tuning your reads.
The Rules for Grain
Things get more complicated when you’re putting on a green with grain. If the grain is running in the same direction on the next putt, then the simple rules apply. But in general, you’ll need to take the grain into account.
- If you came up short on the last putt against the grain, that speed may be just right if the next putt is down grain.
- If you didn’t get the break you anticipated on the last hole with the grain running against the break, you might get exactly the break you anticipate on the next putt, if the grain is running with the break.
There is no doubt that grain complicates things enormously. As a result, it becomes harder to acquiring the kind of intuition to anticipate break and predict the amount of speed you need.
But it’s not like you have to be 100% accurate, either! A scientist might need to worry about how much of a difference there is between the grain on the last putt, and the grain on this one — but we golfers sure don’t. We only need to be close.
For most putts, if you get within 2 feet you’re doing great, and within 3 feet is perfectly fine. So don’t worry about some kind of exact calculation that will determine the perfect adjustments to line and speed. Just be aware of the effect of grain, and let your internal computer do the rest.
After all, we survived as species precisely because we have that capability. So relax, depend on it, and let your internal computer do the work!
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