Golf Green SpeedReader: Learning green speed slopes

The Goal: Adjusting for slopes

Many people believe that we determine the line then choose the speed to use. This is absolutely incorrect as the speed of the putt determines the line to use. Know the correct speed and the line is much easier to read.

Everyone knows that a downslope putt requires less putting force, as an upslope requires more for the same distance. However, many forget that downhill putts do not break as much as uphill putts

Speed of the putt plays an important role in all of this. Faster putts do not break as much as slower putts (imagine rolling a ball quickly then slowly across an side incline). Furthermore, a putt does the majority of its "breaking" in the last 50% of its roll with the break becoming stronger as the putt slows. 

How to do it: The final adjustment

Adjusting for the slope on the green is the last variable to adjust for after adjusting for speed and distance differences from our reference speed.

After adjusting for speed and distance, determine the amount of incline or decline of the putt. Once a determination has been made, adjust from the standardized putting stroke.

A simple technique to use is to imagine the distance to the hole as being shorter for downhill putts or farther for uphill putts. Then, simply shorten or lengthen the backswing accordingly from its predetermined position.

Adjustments for green speed differences, distances, and slopes can now be made with objectivity and precision. 


The professional opinion: Exerpts from Golf Publications

Tiger tips: how to stare down the long, breaking putt - Lesson Tee

One of the keys to effective lag putting is a good read with proper speed. That's particularly true on a big breaker. What good does it do me to get the ball rolling on the correct line if I knock it six feet past the hole? The reason I focus on the speed of a putt is because speed determines line.

I've always been pretty good at reading greens. Wish I could say the same about my speed. When I was younger, I tried to take as much break out of a putt as possible. Sometimes that tactic meant a long comebacker, which more often than not I'd ram into the back of the cup.

Tour greens running 12 or more on the Stimpmeter are a lot more challenging. You must be able to die the ball at the hole on a severely breaking putt, because you're putting to a spot and letting gravity take the ball toward the hole. If it's rolling too fast or slow, you've got no shot at getting it to stop within kick-in range.

On big breakers, speed trumps line - Putting - Brief Article

When you combine the severe green contours at Augusta National with their off-the-chart quickness, a unique spectacle comes into play. You see guys stroking putts with their backs turned to the hole, on the 14th and 16th greens especially. I'm still amazed that Tiger Woods in 1997 and Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999 went 72 holes without three-putting once.

The key to handling sweeping sidehill breaks on fast greens is to focus more on speed than line. Why? If you misread the line by three feet but get the speed right, you'll have three feet left for your second putt. But if you misjudge the speed by three feet, you might have 10 feet or more left for your second putt. If the ball is going too fast or slow when it "takes the break," all bets are off. On breaking putts, speed kills.

Click to return to common questions

Copyright 2002-2011. Golf Green SpeedReader is a registered trademark of Hughes Innovations, Inc. All rights reserved. USGA and the term Stimpmeter are both registered trademarks of the United States Golf Association. All cited articles are from outside sources and are not associated to this web site except for reference purposes for the reader.
Hughes Innovations, Inc.  P.O. Box 73037  Marietta, GA  30007
Articles | Games | Golf Tips | F.A.Q. | Testimonials | Contact Us | Feedback | Links | Purchase