7 Tips For Reading Fast Greens

Make Fast Greens Your Friends With These Tips

Reading greens is a skill that takes time to develop. Even the best golfers in the world rely on caddies to help them ensure they have read the green properly. Green reading can get even more complicated when you take speed into account. 

Fast greens are a good thing; the ball is more likely to stay on its line and roll true. However, you will want these 7 tips for reading fast greens to make sure you make more one-putts your next time on the course. 

Feel the Slope With Your Feet

When playing fast greens, make sure you walk to the hole from the location of your ball. Pay very close attention to the slope. As you walk, see if you feel as though you are heading up or down. 

A fast green with a downhill putt is very difficult to control. Even just a small change in grade will impact the speed of the ball. 

When possible, set yourself up for putts that will travel uphill, not down. 

Observe Your Playing Partners

Pay close attention to what is happening to the putts of other golfers in your foursome. Did the putt look like it would go right, but it went left? Did a player find that the greens are breaking more or less than expected?

Observe these types of things before you make your putt, which will help tremendously in reading fast greens. 

In addition, make sure that you watch your approach shots and chips as they land on the green. 

The key is to pay attention, which should happen regardless of green speed. 

Golfer in distance putting to cup in foreground.
Photo Credit: Thomas Park from unsplash.

Stick to Your Line

The line is always important to follow. You must pick a line, stick to it, and ensure your putt starts on a line that it needs to be on. 

What happens on fast greens? 

Golfers get scared. 

They fear the ball will run too far past the hole, so they make slight adjustments in their stroke and set up to accommodate the line. The last minute adjustments almost always result in a missed putt. 

When putting on fast greens, you can get into a lot of trouble very quickly. If you pick a line, you have to stick with it. 

Visualize the Path

There are a number of different ways to handle fast greens. 

You can make a firm stroke, take out the break, and go right for the hole. 

Or you can take a more relaxed approach and slowly let the ball curve and turn toward the hole. 

Each of these is correct, but you must pick the one that matches your strengths as a golfer. 

First, look at the green and see how you believe the putt will fall and how it will turn toward the hole. Then, visualize the path and see if it makes more sense to be aggressive and use a little speed or to be more cautious and to play more break. 

Visualizing will help you decide on this exact position. 

Check the Grain

The grain is the direction in which the grass grows. If you are putting in the direction the grass grows or against the grain, the putt will be slower. If you are putting with the grain (think of it like putting on the backs of the blades of grass), the putt will be faster. 

The change in speed when putting into or with the grain is not extreme. However, it can certainly be that extra roll at the end of a putt that you need to let the ball drop in the hole. 

Our favorite way to check the grain is to look at the golf hole. Right around the hole, you can usually see which way the blades of grass are growing and then determine if you are putting into or against the grain. 

Break Long Putts Into Smaller Ones

If you have a putt that is more than about 20 feet, there is a good chance that it will break more than once. Trying to read this as one long putt becomes difficult and will likely just confuse you. 

Instead, break a long putt into smaller putts, and it’s much easier to read. 

The key for you is to get the ball started on the proper line and then let the rest happen after that. The first part of your putt is the most important to read because this will make or break the rest of it. 

On very long putts, split the read into three sections: the beginning, middle, and end. Do whatever you can to ensure that the beginning part of the putt sets up the end. 

This comes into play on golf courses that have greens with more than one tier. In addition, you may find that a severely sloped green has more than one break. 

Don’t panic; split it up and focus on the first section of your putt the most. 

Don’t Over Read the Green

When you over read fast greens, you will miss putts. 

Remember, the speed of the green is probably going to decrease the amount of break that you need to incorporate into your putt. In fact, if you hit the ball a little hard, it may not break at all. 

With faster greens, a little less break, and a slightly firmer and shorter stroke tends to help. Keep in mind that downhill putts do tend to break more than uphill putts. 

The bottom line here is that if you worry too much about break and over-read the putt, you may talk yourself out of it or try to make adjustments mid-stroke. Instead, focus more on picking a line, trusting it, and making a great stroke. 

Final Thoughts: Reading Fast Greens

Reading golf greens is one of the hardest parts of golf. Don’t be discouraged if it takes time to get good at green reading. Like any other skill, it’s something that you need to practice. 

Next time you head to the putting green, don’t just sit there and practice the straight 10-foot putts. Go to different areas of the green where there is more slope and challenge yourself to read the more difficult part of the greens. 

 Written by Brittany Olizarowicz, Golf Teaching Professional

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