Green Reading Essentials
There is no doubt that experience plays a large role in green reading but stick to these key principles and you will have a solid framework from which to improve your read.
• Take you first read from 30 yards back from the green as you make your approach. At this stage, you are just trying to figure out the dominant slope on the green. Imagine that the green is planar (one continuous slope) and be clear on the dimensions.
• The second read is from behind your ball, in line with the hole. Keep your visual field wide so you are looking at either edge of the green and not just the line between your ball and the hole.
• Imagine the entire line of your putt and work out the angle that it will be going in the hole at. From there, you may find it helpful to make a mental note of the where the back of the hole is on your intended line.
The line is obviously relative to the pace so I plan the curve on all my putts with the aim to leave my ball a foot past the hole should I miss the putt. At this speed, not only is the return putt a tap in but the hole is at its maximum capture rate. Every roll of the ball thereafter reduces the capture significantly.
The Wind will have an effect on the line and speed of your putt. It is useful to remember that whatever wind you feel at head height will be 30% that strength at ground level.
It is important to reflect accurately on our errors. Club level golfers focus the blame for missed putts on the stroke a disproportionate amount of the time. This leads to a degradation in confidence and overly monitoring the stroke mechanics. It also means that we don't develop our green reading as fast as we could. Use a line on the ball to be sure that you are aligned on your intended start line. If the ball didn't start online then it's a stroke error (although this can be caused by a lack of confidence in the chosen line and other mental errors).