Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands



Golf Digest Logo Happy Hour

The art and science of green reading—what you’re doing wrong and how to fix it

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David Jensen/Icon Sportswire

June 10, 2024

You have a 10-foot putt. Sensing it will break a little right-to-left, you aim just outside the hole, and it misses on the right. Did you push it, misread it, or simply have too much speed? Or was it all three?

Without understanding why we’re missing putts, we often misdiagnose our putting struggles as technical ones. We work on our strokes, but we might not get any better. Why? That was never the issue—we simply don’t read the greens well enough.

Scroll down for our key takeaways and a complete recording of the webinar.

Ralph Bauer, a Canada-based putting coach who works with multiple PGA Tour players, has long studied the art and science of green reading because he sees it as an often-overlooked variable that when improved can quickly lower our scores.

We chatted with Bauer on all things green reading during the Golf Digest Happy Hour: The art and science of green reading—what you’re doing wrong and how to fix it.

Throughout the hour-long webinar offered exclusively for Golf Digest+ members, Bauer explained the fundamentals of green reading, beginning with the various factors that affect break. He explained how to properly read a putt, why you shouldn’t ever read a putt from the high side of the hole and other common green-reading misconceptions.

Scroll down for our key takeaways and a complete recording of the webinar.

Key Takeaways

  • Many factors influence break on the greens, including distance, severity of slope, speed and wind.
  • When reading a putt, focus on how it will break during the last third of the putt. That is when the ball is traveling the slowest and it will break more than at the beginning when it is going faster.
  • The first step in determining the read of a putt is to figure out where the low side is. From there, you should only read the putt from the low side and never the high side. During research studies, Bauer found golfers read putts far better from the low side.
  • When you miss a putt low or high, don’t assume it was a bad read. It might be because you didn’t have proper speed. Without enough speed, a good putt will miss low and with too much speed, a good putt will miss high.

Golf Digest Happy Hour with Ralph Bauer