Trust the numbers
A new green-reading formula is catching on with pros. Here's how it works
If you've read anything that I've written before, you'll probably know I'm always interested in the areas of the game that pros think a lot about but amateurs don't. Green reading is one of those areas—if not the biggest areas of all.
Yes, pro golfers work hard on the mechanics of their putting stroke. But often, they see that stroke as something of a means to an end—not particularly difficult, but rather a problem solved with a little hard work and repetition.
Green reading is where they make their money.
Judging what the green around you is doing—and how best to navigate along it—is the essential ingredient for good putting. It's why good players sweat over it—and recently, a new system has emerged on tour that is helping players do it.
A green-reading formula
Over the years, Ralph Bauer, a Canada-based putting coach who works with multiple PGA Tour players, spotted a problem.
"So many golfers miss a putt and they don't know why. They don't know if they misread it or pushed or pulled it or mis-judged the speed," he says. "My focus has been on trying to remove as many of those variables as possible."
When the world locked down during COVID in 2020, and with more time on his hands, Bauer paired with an app engineer and developed the Tour Read app.
The app uses the gyroscope within the iPhone to measure the exact slope on the green once you lay it down on the greens. Then, Bauer's app pairs that data, along with information about the speed of the green itself, to feed a green-reading algorithm that instantly spits out the exact read of the putt.
"It's a system I developed over years with real golfers, through trial-and-error," Bauer says.
The app is, of course, illegal to use in competitions, but it's also not designed to be used that way. The app itself is a practice tool to help players work on their green-reading on the practice green. The goal for players is to be matching what the app is measuring with what they feel in their feet. Players have to make a judgement call on the degree of slope, and once they do that, the formula within the app will measure the exact break. Players can then apply that formula in their heads when they’re out on the course.
To give you an idea of what the end result looks like, here's an example of a few reads the app will generate, based on a green that's running about 10 on the Stimpmeter.
It’s a different approach—a deeply formulaic one—but one that’s gaining traction on tour with a growing number of success stories.
Marcus Potter, a fellow putting coach who uses the Tour Read app with many of his players, including recent PGA Tour winner Lee Hodges, is a fan.
"It helps quantify a lot of things, which is really helpful to guys who may struggle reading greens," Potter says.
If nothing else, it helps provide players an alternative method to give them more confidence in their reads.
I've actually started using the method myself recently and found it really helpful. If you're interested, you can hear me break it down in the most recent episode of the Golf IQ podcast below.