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Harbour Town Golf Links


A study of 100 golfers revealed some interesting green-reading mistakes


Stan Badz

If you're missing putts, there's a good chance your fatal mistake happened before you even hit the golf ball.

You've misread the putt.

Ralph Bauer knows all about that. Bauer is a putting coach from Canada who works with a slate of PGA Tour players, and developed the increasingly popular Tour Read app, which just launched a new putting course within it.

I like talking with Bauer, because I always walk away learning a lot, and putting a little better because of it. On the ground at the Cognizant Classic a few weeks ago, he was telling me about a couple of findings he's discovered recently, and what the rest of us can learn from them ...

You're bad at reading putts

Over the span of multiple tournaments, Ralph tested 10 different PGA Tour players and found something interesting:

  • Players under-read putts (meaning they don't read enough break) that move from left-to-right by about 30 percent.
  • Players are slightly better at reading putts that move from right-to-left, but they still under-read those by about 15 percent.

That's a useful nugget in itself—play more break than you think on left-to-right putts—but even still, the fact remains that golfers misjudge both types of putts.

Look at the putt from below...

So, in an effort to fix it, Bauer conducted a green-reading test on 100 of all different types of golfers. He had each golfer read putts from various locations, then used his Tour Read app to test where they were most accurate.

And what did he find?

That golfers' green-reading was most accurate when they stood halfway between the ball and the hole, standing on the lowest point of the green.

"85 percent of golfers could perceive the slope best when they were looking uphill, halfway between the ball and hole," Bauer says. "If you are one of those players, as you are walking up to the green you should be deciding which side of the hole you will read the putt from."

Fifteen percent of golfers read the putt best when they were straddling the line of the putt—meaning standing directly between the ball and the hole. The combination of both those two methods would help a lot of golfers, Bauer explains.

...DON'T look at the putt from above

One thing that won't help a lot of golfers is standing on the highest point of the green, and looking down at the putt you're about to hit. When golfers did that, they under-read putts by about 25 percent on average, Bauer explains.

So, the next time you're on a green, trying judging the break by standing on the lowest point halfway between the ball and pin. Looking back up at the putt helps golfers see the slopes more accurately, according to Bauer's results.

Standing above the whole in either direction would probably result in an under-read—and missed putt.

Ultimately, it's all about finding a method that works best for you. Making a change like this is small, but may work wonders for your putting.