Fast greens are hard. Hard greens are smooth. Smooth greens are consistent. And what you need more than anything else are consistent greens!
To many a beginning golfer — or struggling putter — fast greens just magnify errors. So a small miss becomes magnified, and the number of putts increases. As a result, the average golfer tends to prefer medium-speed greens. But I’m here tell you that you really want to be putting on the fastest greens you can find, for a number of reasons.
In the first place, fast greens will make you better, sooner. Because they magnify your errors, it will be a lot easier to see what needs to improve. And because they’re consistent, you’ll be able to get the feedback you need to avoid those errors. (We’ll have more to say on consistency, in a moment.)
But to many, that probably sounds I like saying you should beat yourself with a bigger stick, because it feels better when you stop! That may be true, but increasing your rate of improvement is probably the least important reason for putting on fast greens. So let’s move on to some of the more important ones.
A Fast Green Putts “True”
Perhaps most importantly, smooth hard greens putt “true”. There are no bumps, lumps, dimples, or depressions to throw the ball off line.
I remember one course where the greens were so soft that any chip or pitch left a dimple where the ball landed. Putting on one of those greens was like putting a waffle! Not fun.
You can tell that a green is bumpy when the ball “hops” as it runs. You don’t want that. You want a ball that runs smoothly along the ground for the entire length of its trek.
On the one hand, that degree of consistency means you get the results you expect. To some degree, then, your chances of making a putt improve. But more importantly, you get the feedback you need to need to improve from putt to putt, instead of having the results skewed by random “measurement errors” caused by lumps and bumps in the green.
Feedback You Can Use
If you’ve read Comprehensive Keys to the Green, you know how to interpret the results of every putt you make — and even putts you see. Those interpretations give you feedback, and that feedback makes you better from green to green — as long as the greens themselves are consistent.
Hard, fast greens take a lot of work by the greenskeepers. When greens are fast, you know that someone is paying attention. So green speed is likely to be consistent throughout the round.
Final Inch Tells You Something
On a slow green, a ball comes to rest in exactly the direction it was originally traveling — regardless of what direction that was. So you miss the opportunity to get a vital piece of information — information you can use to plan your next putt.
On a fast green, that last inch of travel always goes directly downhill, so it tells you exactly which way the green is running. And knowing where the Fall Line is really located is half the battle! The other half is knowing how fast the green is running — knowledge you’ve been gaining from every putt you’ve made up to this point.
Helps You Take Their Money!
Fast greens magnify the errors your playing partners make, too! With the green reading and putt-evaluation skills you have developed by reading the articles on this site, and scouring the book, you’ll do a better job of adjusting to the greens than your playing partners, which will let you take their money! (Is there any better reason than that?)
Learn more: Four Rules for Reading Greens and Anticipating Break
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