READING GREENS |
- How important is putting?
(Fig - page 4) Putting is 43% of the total
strokes taken in an average round of golf! It doesn't take a genius to
figure out which part of your game is a good candidate for examination if
you really want to lower your score.
- Is putting a talent you are born with?
The answer is no in most cases, but neither is it a black art. Good putting can be learned through practicing scientifically proven principles coupled with your natural abilities. WARNING! - The feedback you've been getting on the greens has probably been fooling you... over time good putters become average and bad putters also become average, but in both cases this is due in part to a misunderstanding of what's really going on.
- What makes a good putt? Can a machine or a perfect putting device like the True Roller make 'em every time?
(Fig - page 14) A good putt does not necessarily always go in the hole. Even the True Roller can't make every putt - at least not on the greens :-) The True Roller has better luck putting on a pool table though.
- Does the golf ball matter?
Why don't we make more putts?
- How round is the ball you're using? How balanced is it?
(Fig - page 20) An egg won't roll straight and neither will an out-of-round golf ball. Also, you may be surprised to learn that many brand new golf balls have a "light" and "heavy" side to them (which can be determined by the salt water test) and this flaw tends to make them wobble off line.
- How "hard" or "soft" is the ball you are using?
A surlyn covered ball (like a Rock-Flite) will go almost 3 feet farther on a 30 foot putt than a balata covered ball (like a Titleist.) Distance balls off the tee are also distance balls on the green.
- How many putts do the pros really make from 6 feet? ...from 12 feet? ...from 25 feet?
(Fig - page 38) The pros only make 50%, 20%, and 10% respectively. Be realistic in your expectations.
- How many putts can the True Roller make from 12 feet?
Out of 1800 putts attempted from 12 feet, the True Roller made only 48% due to many factors that most golfers never consider.
- What is the lumpy doughnut?
(Fig - pages 33,35) The lumpy doughnut is the congregation of footprints within a radius of 6 feet from the hole. The last 12 inches is almost footprint free and form the doughnut's hole. This creates a volcanic like entrance ramp that can have significant impact on a ball's line relative to its speed. The average 500+ footprints a foursome makes in the green take up to 2 hours to spring back up to normal shape. Fresh footprints are to the golf ball like a curb is to a pedestrian crossing the street... in other words, your ball can "trip" on its way to the hole.
- What are some other factors that affect your putts?
Spike marks (aka Christmas trees), unfixed ball marks, diseased or poor greens, loose impediments, wind, etc. Half of all missed putts are not your fault!
- What then... is putting all luck?
No. The golfer who makes the highest number of mechanically sound good strokes will make the most putts.
- What are the 3 fundamentals of the putting stroke? How do
they rank in order of importance in relation to making a good putt?
What are some other setup factors that influence your putts?
- #1) Sweet Spot - the center of percussion
(Fig - pages 45,69) Putts hit on-center (commonly referred to as the sweet spot) have maximum energy transfer. Putts hit on the heel of the putter only transfer 85% energy of the stroke, and putts hit on the toe transfer as little as 70% energy of the stroke. Another down side of missing the sweet spot is that putts hit off-center have a 95% error-transfer efficiency. Do you know where the sweet spot is on your putter? Tap along the putter face with the tip of a key in one hand as you hold the shaft between thumb and forefinger in your other hand using your pinky to simulate the same shaft angle as when your set up to putt. When the putter moves exactly straight back from the tap and does not wobble, you've found the sweet spot. Repeated practice with Teacher Clips ® or rubber bands stretched over the putter head can help you learn to hit the sweet spot. If you use rubber bands, place them so they are an equal distance apart (at least a ball's width) on both sides of the center of percussion.
- #2) Blade Angle - the direction the putter face is aimed (relative to the target line.)
(Fig - pages 44, 60) 90% of any error in blade angle is transmitted to the putt. The ball mainly goes where it is aimed and not along the path the putter head is moving. Enough practice setting the putter head perpendicular to markings on Truthboard ® or a yardstick can teach you what a square blade angle really looks like.
- #3) Putter Path - the trail the putter takes during the stroke (relative to the target line.)
(Fig - pages 44,50) Of the 3 putting fundamentals, it is common for golfers to spend a majority of their time honing their putting path. Consider this however - only 20% of the putter path is transferred to the roll of the ball. This percentage is low due to the small amount of friction involved between the ball and putter blade. Putter path is still a very important fundamental because a fault in this area usually creates problems in one or both of the other fundamental areas. Path can be learned by making practice strokes in a Putting Track ® (Fig - page 53) or between two books set up with a yardstick in between them. If you use the books, establish a clearance distance (which can be made increasingly smaller) between them and the heel and toe of your putter head. Use the yardstick as a straight line guide.
What compensations do you make in your putting stroke?
- Hands (Fig - pages 107, 108) - the hands should oppose each other on the putter no matter what grip you choose to use. Where the hands are in relation to the shoulder sockets controls the stroke, i.e., the putter's path and blade angle.
- Grip Pressure - a light grip on the putter is preferred so that the weight of the putter head can be felt. Whatever grip pressure you choose to use must remain constant throughout the putting stroke.
- Forearms - when viewed from behind, the right forearm covering the left indicates a good balanced setup in this area.
- Ball Position - placing the ball in your stance so that it is contacted at the bottom of the arc of a pendulum stroke is ideal, however, 2 inches either side of this is acceptable.
- Eye Alignment - it is best to place your eyes directly over the ball so that there is no difference between your eye line and the target line angle. Eyes that either fall on the inside or the outside of this line introduce varying degrees of angles that have to be compensated for as the putting distances change.
- Body Motion - moving the body is a killer while trying to putt... you might as well be Charlie Brown trying to kick the football that Lucy is holding. Picture a pendulum as a model to strive for - it uses a minimum of moving parts when in motion. In putting, your shoulders are mainly responsible for creating this pendulum type of stroke. Become a relaxed totem pole, especially in the lower body area.
- Head Motion - Don't! Head motion is even worse than body motion. Enough said.
- Wrist Motion - using the wrists in putting is unreliable and causes most people's feel (especially in distance) to change from day to day. Your wrists should feel "dead" and they do not add any force to the putt.
- The Triangle - the triangle is formed by your two arms and shoulder line. This shape should not deform or change in any way throughout the entire putting stroke.
- Stroke Tempo - using the pendulum as a model, the duration of all putting strokes should be a constant. In other words, the total time for a short and long putt should be exactly the same. Note: tempo may vary from individual to individual and this is completely OK. A metronome is an invaluable tool in helping to determine your natural tempo. It's also an excellent aide to use every time you want to practice your putting tempo.
(Fig - page 95) You'll never know until you analyze your stroke. Practice putting combining the three training ideas given in the 3 fundamentals section and fill out the putting evaluation matrix to find out!
Should my putter move in an inside-along-inside path like a miniature version of the full swing?
(Fig - page 89) This "screen door" model of putting is very common yet can have serious drawbacks because of the compensations that may occur in this type of putting stroke. The simplest, most easily repeatable path your putter can take is like that of a pendulum - that is, your putter moves down an along-along-along path. Also, squaring your shoulders parallel to the target line at setup gives the best chance of achieving a pendulum like putting stroke.
Should I develop a routine for putting?
(Fig - page 115) Developing a systematic
organization of time progressive motions or a routine prepares you both
mentally and physically in putting just as it does in the rest of your
- What is the magic number in putting or what is the
speed to roll a putt at the hole?
(Fig - page 128) The outdated theory of
rolling the ball just hard enough so that it "dies" at the hole has long
been thought to give putts their best chance of being holed. The problem
with this myth is that it requires a perfectly smooth uniform surface
to work and doesn't take into consideration the real world challenge of
the lumpy doughnut. Extensive testing by Pelz has proved that a putt with
speed to roll 17 inches past the hole (should it miss) is the magic number
that maximizes the number of putts made. The "17 inches
past the hole speed" increases the odds of holing a putt up to 68% or by a
factor of 4X over the lag method. This magic number of 17 inches
is the best way to help overcome the lumpy doughnut effect regardless
of the distance or slope of a putt.
- Should I try to hole every putt, regardless of the
As putts begin to fall in the 35 feet range and beyond, the probability of
a 3 putt starts to become greater than a 1 putt.
To optimize your chances of taking the least total putts for the
round, it is wise to try and always 2 putt from this range. The goal in
long distance putting is to lag the ball to within a 3 foot radius of the
hole, so that the second putt becomes a tap in.
- Is trying to emulate a pendulum's motion the best choice
for developing a good putting stroke?
A pendulum putting stroke has many attractive natural attributes and
is simplistic. Looking at it from a physics point of view, a pendulum is
an excellent model for studying the putting motion. Let's start
by examining the following principle:
A simple pendulum describes harmonic motion and its angular
frequency is independent of both amplitude and mass, and is dependent only
on its length
What this translates to in layman's terms is:
The benefits of putting like a pendulum are evident in areas of improved
distance control, smoothness of stroke, and an increase in confidence.
Should everyone putt using the same tempo?
- the total time it takes the putting stroke to be completed is always
the same for any length putt
- this time period is a constant no matter how heavy or light the putter
- the amount of energy transferred from the putter to the ball will
change if the length of your suspension point changes. Here are 2 common
ways this can happen:
- moving the grip up or down on the putter
- altering the stance by standing taller or shorter
Each person needs to identify his putting tempo based upon his own
internal clock. As in everyday life, a quick person will tend to have a
faster tempo in doing things and this will carry over to putting as well.
Conversely, a laid back person will have a naturally slower tempo. An
important key to developing distance control in putting is to
learn to keep your natural tempo consistent throughout every putt.
Remember, natural putting tempos will differ between
people, however, once you find your tempo, stick with it to
fully develop your putting touch.
How can I put the pendulum theory into practice in developing a
You can develop the Ultimate Touch®
putting stroke by practicing along with a metronome and a color coded
How can I practice developing my touch on the greens?
To help develop great touch in putting, try out these games:
- FOUR CORNERS
- Knee Knockers
- Six Feet Under
- BETWEEN THE LINES
- LAG MAN
Pelz lists 5 games in chapter 14 of his book. One of them is called
Drawback (pages 140, 141) and it's a great game to have
fun with practicing putting against an opponent. In fact, Safety Drawback
was first introduced in 1996 by Pelz as a way to help determine who is
the best putter in the world at the annual World Putting Championship.
- What does reading a green mean?
Green reading is the task of determining how the green itself affects
the ball on its journey to the hole. It is part art and part science.
Developing skill at the
art of green reading comes with time through the accumulation of putting
experiences by playing many rounds of golf. The science of green reading
takes these experiences and quantifies them with regard to how the ball
actually reacts to the speed, slope, and grain of the greens.
Of the three determining factors in the science of green
reading, speed is arguably the most important
because the overwhelming effect it has on both the slope and grain.
- How do I read a green? What are the general steps I should
Everyone will develop their own personal method of green reading, but here
is an example sequence of steps that consider the fundamental issues:
- Begin by noticing the general lay of the land as you approach the
green. Imagine a huge bucket of water being poured near the hole and
watch the direction of the water run off in your mind's eye.
- Once on the green, crouch down and look from behind your ball towards
the hole. Try to determine the amount of speed required to get the ball
to the hole, taking into account whether the putt is uphill/downhill.
Also, begin to formulate how much the ball will break left/right of the
hole based upon that speed.
- Next, mentally make note of the distance of the putt by stepping off a
line from your ball to the hole. Pay attention to the texture of the grass
and its grain as you go and be careful not to step on anyone's line.
- Continue walking on a beyond the hole a couple of yards, then turn
around and check the slope of the green as you look back
towards your ball from behind the hole. This is where you fine tune
the amount of break you want to play. The ball
will be traveling at its slowest speed at this point and is usually
therefore most affected by the speed, slope and grain nearer to the hole.
- Walk back to your ball, take another quick look at your target to
solidify the line, go through your practice preview strokes as a distance
check warm-up, and then all that remains is to putt the ball.
This entire process should only take about 30 seconds for most putts.
Is there an easy way to talk about how much break to play in a
One convention that can be used to describe how much break to play is a
measurement system based on the cup size itself - this system can further
be divided into 1/2 cup increments. For example, on a 20 foot putt that
breaks slightly right, you might say you're aiming 1/2 cup to the left to
compensate for the break. If the right break is really severe, you may
have to aim as much as, say, 6 & 1/2 cups to the left - maybe even more.
Where should I really aim?
A putt is rarely aimed directly dead center at the hole.
because there is almost always a left or right break (however slight it
be) in the green.
It is good idea to shift the center of the cup using the measurement
system (detailed above) left or right of the hole to a new aim location.
short length putts, it is good rule of thumb to add a little more speed to
the putt so that you can aim inside the hole (unless there is a severe
What is the Farnsworth method?
Farnsworth is a Pelz proponent and a leading visualization expert in the
world of golf. He claims
that the need to identify the correct speed as it relates to the path in
cannot be overstated. This idea coupled with a vivid
preview in your mind of how the ball will travel on its way to the
hole is the formula for success. In his view, you
must be able to trace a clear path with your eyes across the green to
the hole at
the speed the ball will be rolling at in order to have the best chance
of getting the ball to go in the hole. He uses an x/y
coordinate system to shift the focus from the actual hole to a secondary
projected target hole. The projected target hole is selected based upon
slope, and grain of the green and becomes the new aiming spot.
Once the projected target hole is correctly identified, all putts
become straight putts and putts stroked at the proper speed down
the line at this projected hole will finish
very near (if not in) the actual hole - see Farnsworth Diagrams
What should I be thinking of as I am
ready to stroke the putt?
At this point, you've aimed your putter at the projected target hole based
the calculations you've
made regarding speed, slope, and grain. You've taken a couple of
strokes that preview the stroke needed to get the ball to
roll the proper distance. The only thing left to do is to clear your mind
mechanical thoughts, imagine the projected target hole as you look at the
the trigger. You must believe in your preparation and plan of attack as
this breeds confidence. That's what a lot of putting really boils
down to -
confidence that you can stroke the little white ball to give it a good
chance of going into the hole. And if it
doesn't go in, you can still walk away knowing that you put your best read
and stroke on the ball. Remember, not all of them go in because "golf is
game of the perfect."