Golf School: How to Putt On US Open-Style Greens

A wise man once told me that “a good golf course has to protect itself with long rough and hard greens”. A fan of Seth Raynor and Donald Ross courses who are notorious for defending their holes with slope-riddled, fast and hard greens, he is the first person i’ve ever seen cut a putt against a slope to slow it’s speed as it feathers towards the hole. Thanks for the lesson Burkie!

Fast greens demand two things, knowledge on speed and break. In that order. A great stroke with the right speed can still go in but if the speed is off then a three-putt comes into play. In a recent Golf Digest article, they discuss how to make sure you get your ball in the hole in no more than three putts.

TAKE THE LONG ONES SERIOUSLY
Even if it’s a putt you think you have no chance of making, don’t just step up and hit it. Take your time with the read. If you get it right, fast greens will help you get the ball close to the cup even if your speed isn’t perfect.

FIND THE ENTRY POINT
To find your line, try to determine where the ball will drop in the hole. That helps you see the path all the way back to your ball from the cup.

READ PUTTS IN A CIRCLE
I start from behind my ball and then walk along the high side of the putting line, around the back of the cup and then back along the low side. Why? My feet are absorbing a lot of information the break and speed as I walk around.

CONFIRM IT FROM THE LOW SIDE
Reading a putt from the low side gives you the best perspective of how much break there is. It’s a lot easier to see the slope from there.

IT’S OK TO CHECK AGAIN
If you’re still not sure, do what I do: I take one more walk halfway to the hole to pinpoint the spot on the edge of the cup where the putt will drop. This should confirm what you learned on the circle walk and the low-side green read.

CENTER THE BALL
I create a pathway with four tees when I practice to make sure my putter is moving on the right path when it strikes the ball. It should pass between the tees without striking any of them. If it hits one, I know my path was off. The point is, if you roll it on the right line from a short distance, you can usually get away with a stroke that’s too hard or soft on fast greens. Feel isn’t as big a deal on short ones.

MAKE A GOOD STROKE
You can tell you hit the putt in the middle of the clubface by how good contact feels—and how smooth the ball rolls. If you hit it off the toe or heel, it won’t feel right.

SAVE THIS FOR LAST
Hit 15 or so putts before you play to get a feel for the speed. Get confident, and the greens on the course won’t seem scary at all.

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