Golf Green SpeedReader: Matching golf green speeds


The Goal: Adjusting to match the green speed

The importance of developing a standardized putting stroke is to create a definitive point from where we can make small adjustments to compensate for different green speeds, slopes, and distances while we play.

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


How to do it: Measure, compare, compensate

When we developed our standardized putting stroke at home using the golf drills, we standardized it to a specific green speed, preferably an "average" green speed. Using that speed as a "reference speed," we compare it to the speed of the green we have just measured and are about to play.

If the measured speed is different than the "reference speed" we used for our standardized putting stroke, the shot requires either a softer or stronger putt for the given distance. The extent of this speed differential determines how much softer or stronger the putt should be.

With practice and experience with different green speeds, precisely how much to adjust from our standardized stroke for a given speed differential will eventually become second nature, but initially we will already know which way to adjust and be "in the ballpark."  

The next factor to consider is the distance of the putt followed by the slope of the green. Learn to include these two factors into the calculations by visiting QUESTION #3 and QUESTION #4.


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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