Golf Green SpeedReader: Matching golf green speeds


The Goal: Adjusting to match the green speed

The importance of developing standardized backswing lengths is to create a definitive point from where we can make small adjustments to compensate for different slopes and distances while we play.

Remember, regardless of the distance to the hole, the goal is to leave the first putt within the "tap-in" zone. Mastering this one simple skill can do wonders.

How to do it: Measure, compare, compensate

Whether we developed standardized backswing lengths at home or on the practice greens or both, we initially used a specific green speed, preferably an "average" green speed. Using that speed as a "reference speed," we developed and recorded the backswing lengths we needed to use to putt different distances on that surface speed.

Whenever we measure and want to learn a different green speed, we use the same techniques to find and record the backswing lengths on our Backswing Guide we need to use to putt different distances on that green speed.

Then we compare the surface speed we are about to play to our "reference" speed. By referencing our Backswing Card, we can compare and determine precisely how much stronger or softer the putt should be to putt the same distance but on a different green speed. Simple, huh? It should be!

With practice and the development of different backswing lengths to use for different green speeds, how much to adjust for a given green speed will become second nature. And even if it never becomes second nature, we have our personalized Backswing Card to reference whenever we lose our way and/or need a little confidence boost!

The professional opinion: Exerpts from Golf Publications

How to find your line

I'VE HAD THE PRIVILEGE of teaching many top-notch professionals and amateurs. If they had a putting problem, 90 percent of the time speed was at the root of it. We've all heard the expression, "This is a speed putt." Guess what: They're all speed putts.

Ever wondered why most tour pros read their own putts and go to the caddie just for confirmation? Only you, the player, knows how hard you're going to hit the putt or the pace at which you plan to roll it. That predetermined pace establishes the line, not vice versa.

The following 10-minute drills, which utilize a simple training aid you can make yourself, will help you develop good touch and feel for proper speed. In addition, you'll be better able to read the effects of slope on roll, aim the ball more accurately and develop a trigger to switch your focus from line to speed before you make your stroke. All of which will make you a better putter.

Hank Johnson is the 2004 PGA Teacher of the Year.

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