The Slippery Slope
Timestamp: Sunday morning, 6:30AM
Location: Your nearest putting green
You wander onto the freshly cut surface ready to build some confidence for your round. The magic wand emerges from the bag, velcro cover torn off with authority. Three fresh nuggets fall from their shiny cardboard sleeve and plop onto the green. You shuffle them 5 feet from the nearest cup.
You are ready.
The first putt looks mostly straight. Bang! Firmly in the back of the cup (pre-COVID story folks, relax).
Then you slide a foot to the right and the next ball misses low and left. Definitely a pull. Gotta fix that.
Slide over a bit more. Again! Another pull and a devastating lip out.
Must’ve been hit too hard… Or was it that pull again? Maybe I just aimed wrong…
Doubts - A lot
Confidence - Zero
Sound like you hoping that the next change will fix your putting? This doesn’t have to be you.
We’ve all missed short putts during our warm up, but seemingly attribute it to “it’s early” or “it’s just warm up.” In fact, it might not even be your stroke that is shattering your confidence. Or your speed. Or your aim...
It’s the first thing you need to do before you hit a putt. (Hint: You do it to a book)
Poll question! How many of you take the time to read the green when hitting short putts? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?
And then you start sliding down that slippery slope... You might remember this recent Instagram clip that introduced this idea. It showed us how much a 1% change in slope can change the total break. Check it out in case you missed it.
Slope is one of the Key Concepts that determines how much a putt breaks. If the ground is tilted more, the putt will break more. And that can yield drastically different results. So the first question:
How does the slope change?
Everyone Has an Angle
Let’s take a look at what happens to the slope as you make your way around a cup. For our example, assume the surface is planar. This is a flat, but tilted surface like a pizza box held slightly crooked in your hand.
Now shifting to the overhead view, we’ll treat the cup like the middle of a clock face. Straight up the hill is at 6 o’clock and straight down the hill is at 12 o’clock. If we were to deviate from those positions, let’s say from 6 o’clock to 4 o’clock, we are changing the angle to the cup.
When that happens, the slope starts to increase. As you work from 3 o’clock back to 12 o’clock, the angle becomes less and the slope starts to decrease. Now for our last question…
What really did happen during those warm up putts?
Let’s go back to our story and add some details to it. Say you dropped your first ball on the ground at 5 o’clock relative to the cup using our reference points. That putt likely doesn’t have much slope, but it has some. Remember how it “looked mostly straight” before you hit it?
There’s the first problem. You relied on your eyes to to predict what was going to happen. The difference between flat and 1% slope is hard to see, especially when just standing over the putt for your warm up.
Then, as you shifted to the right, you went from 5 o’clock to 4 o’clock. The slope increased, but you didn’t know about that during your warm up. The ball turns significantly more just like in the Instagram clip. But you see it miss left and your solution is to fix the pull.
For the last ball, you shift over increasing the slope even more, aim at the same spot, and vainly try to fix the non-existent pull. The last putt breaks even more and leaves you a broken mess. The Wrap Up
The answer is pretty clear at this point. There needs to be a viable solution for reading greens. And here’s the best news: I have that solution. AimPoint Green Reading is a tool that provides an easy to use system that allows players to feel the slope rather than use their eyes to guess. My team trusts this system to help identify how much a putt is going to break with markedly better results.
Don’t believe me? Click the picture below to learn more holding up fingers to read greens like you've seen on Tour with players like Viktor Hovland, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Adam Scott, Lydia Ko, and more. Then, learn about AimPoint Green Reading and schedule your session today!