Putting, often regarded as the make-or-break aspect of golf, remains a skill that sometimes eludes even the most talented players. Success on the green goes past the precision of a well-executed stroke; players must start their putts on the intended line, execute the right speed, and master the art of reading the break.
A perfectly stroked putt can still miss if the player misjudges the slope, break or green condition. To delve into the nuances of green reading and unravel common mistakes, we had the privilege of catching up with Dr. Craig Farnsworth. An eye doctor who has served as a putting coach for numerous major champions and over 200 professional golfers, Dr. Farnsworth brings a unique perspective to the intricate relationship between vision and putting performance.
According to Dr. Farnsworth, the most common reason behind missed putts lies in the accuracy of a player’s read. In this article, we unravel the common green reading mistakes that hinder golfers’ ability to conquer greens effectively.
From the absence of a consistent routine to misjudging break and distance, and the pitfalls of underestimating large-breaking putts or overestimating subtle breaks, we explore the missteps that can lead to frustration on the green and add strokes to your round.
Crafting a consistent green-reading routine is a crucial aspect of a golfer's game, and Dr. Farnsworth provides valuable insights to enhance this skill. Here's a step-by-step guide to optimizing your green reading:
Leave the Ball on the Green
Dr. Farnsworth advises golfers to leave the ball on the green while reading their putt instead of picking it up. This allows players to maintain a connection with the putting surface, fostering a better understanding of its contours and breaks. Additionally, it aids in depth perception as the player’s eyes can better interpret the space between the ball and cup.
Side View on the Low Side
When examining the putt, golfers should position themselves on the low side of the break for a side view. Their eyes travel from the ball to the hole and then back to the ball. This perspective aids in gauging proper distance.
Observing Grass Color
Take a mental note of the grass color while looking from a side view. Dark patches indicate that the slope is back into the player, suggesting that the putt will break towards the side of the hole they are standing on. Conversely, light-colored grass suggests the slope is going away, indicating that the putt will break away from its side.
Gauge Slope with Feet
Golfers should stand near their line of putts to gauge the side slope with their feet. Feeling the putt with the feet provides additional feedback on the slope, contributing to a more accurate assessment of the putting surface. This is also a great way to confirm the break that the player was seeing with their eyes.
Avoid Judging Distance from Behind
Dr. Farnsworth advises against judging distance from behind the ball or the hole. Viewing the putt in a straight line from these angles can obscure depth perception. Opt for the side view for a clearer understanding of the putt's contours and breaks.
By incorporating these guidelines into your green-reading routine, you can enhance your ability to read the greens effectively and make more informed decisions on your putting strategy.
When faced with the challenge of large breaking putts, Dr. Farnsworth has made the observation over the years that many players, even those with major championship victories under their belt, tend to miss most of their large breaking putts on the low side of the hole.
To enhance performance on these putts, Dr. Farnsworth suggests focusing on a strategic spot selection about halfway between the ball and the hole.
By picking a spot halfway through the large breaking putt where you want the ball to die and then break towards the hole, you gain better control over both distance and direction. This method allows for a more calculated and intentional putt, increasing the chances of selecting the correct line.
Additionally, Dr. Farnsworth advises incorporating a slight adjustment by giving the putt a little extra break. This proactive measure ensures that the ball is consistently moving toward the hole.
Recognizing the consequence of a big breaking putt reaching the low side is crucial. Once the ball is on the low side, it starts moving away from the hole, not only diminishing the chances of making the current putt but also setting up a longer and more challenging next putt.
Keeping the ball on the high side gives the player a chance to make the putt while also leaving a shorter second putt if the first one misses. By integrating these insights into your approach to large breaking putts, you can refine your technique and avoid this common pitfall.
When dealing with short, straight putts, keep it simple. Don't overthink the break—trust what you see. People of all skill levels, from beginners to pros, often make the mistake of reading too much into these putts, according to Dr. Farnsworth. It's crucial to avoid this common error.
With small-breaking putts, players often make the reciprocal mistake that they do with long-breaking putts – that is, they see more break than actually exists, whereas with long-breaking putts, as noted above, they see less break than exists. So, with short-breaking putts, golfers should incorporate a little less break than they may imagine they should.
Create a routine that you stick to every time. Take a moment to look at the putt from different angles, especially from the side. This helps you get a clear picture in your mind.
Players should feel the break with their feet to confirm what their eyes are seeing. It is easy to try to make a putt break more than it looks, confirming their visual read with their feet will give golfers more confidence to play a put straight or keep the read inside the hole.