The Smart Way To Survive U.S. Open-Style Greens
Photo by J.D. Cuban
When we're at the U.S. Open, dealing with the fastest greens of the year, you'll often hear the TV commentators say we need good feel for the speed if we're going to avoid three-putting. That's true, but feel is something you're going to have only if you practice a lot—especially on fast greens. What doesn't require nearly as much work is learning to read the break. Putting comes down to two things: speed and break. And there's nothing like trusting your line to make you put a confident stroke on a putt. Even if you don't have the speed quite right, a good read and good stroke will help you get it down in no more than two. And you never know, you might sneak a few in on your first putt. Here is some more advice to survive U.S. Open-style greens. —With Keely Levins
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 (below). 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.
Photo by J.D. Cuban
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 geta feel for the speed. Get confident, and the greens on the course won't seem scary at all.
Minjee Lee of Perth, Australia, has three LPGA Tour wins and is top 10 in putts per green in regulation (1.75).