Equipment manufacturers are producing better putters, grasses on modern greens are quicker due to better agronomy and watering strategies. It all means that we have better surfaces, better technology, but we aren’t making statistically more putts. So what it the problem? In a nutshell, we can’t read greens well enough to adjust to these conditions. What can we do about it? Let’s tee it up!
Listen to the full episode here:
What is the best way to read apart? How do you determine the break? How do you determine the speed? What’s the best way to do it? What are the ways you’ve tried to do it? Let’s tee it up.
Hey everyone. Thank you for joining us today at another episode of Data Axis Golf, the podcast. Thank you for being here. It’s an exciting week, right? PGA Tour. The PGA Tour merchandising show is going on in Orlando, in that huge convention center. There’s always so much cool technology and new equipment and clothing and everything coming out of there. It’s Christmas time for us golfers and it’s kind of, I don’t know, it always feels like golf is right around the corner. When the merchandising show comes on and you get to see all kinds of the new stuff that’s coming out and will be available to us right before we jump into our spring golf season. So really looking forward to it. We got a new fresh coat of snow around here so that kind of has dampened things a little bit but it’s coming, right? Springs coming.
Putting Drills Practice
So I’ve had a lot of cool discussions recently on putting. It was in response to the podcast that I just put out a few days ago on three killer drills to help you work on your putting. And we basically focused on stroke and then we had a drill for controlling your putter face, making sure that it’s squared impact. And then we had to drill on to make sure that you’re not moving during your putting stroke, which is much more of a problem to amateur golfers then we tend to talk about. Not a lot of folks are talking about moving during the putting stroke but it’s a big problem. So anyway, so that’s sort of started the discussion. And I’ve had a lot of cool back and forth with some of the listeners and I appreciate it. It’s totally fun to do that. I love going back and forth email with you anytime. That’s great having a lot of fun with that. And again, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions and want to go back and forth. But yeah, I’ve talked a lot about these drills and had some good responses had some questions. A podcast is not always the best way to talk about different drills, especially when I’m talking about where the golf balls are and all that. So I get that we’re trying to do a better job in the future. I do have a really, really poor quality YouTube video that I have available. I’m just a little embarrassed to throw it up there but I think I will add so many questions about it. It’s probably worth throwing it up on our YouTube channel, Data Axis Golf channel. You can go find copies of these podcasts there as well. And I try to get some content up there in some transcription to go along with that. So, anyway, I’ll do that. I’ll get it up there.
How To Read A Putt?
But one of the great questions that came out of this is somebody asked me how I read a putt. And I thought you know what, I don’t know if we’ve talked too much about that. How do you read a putt? But it’s definitely a big part of the game. And it’s a funny part of the game because everybody seems to have their own way of doing it. But I’ve always, again, been sort of a data guy, I’ve always looked for something where I could get some real data out of it and try to make putting more of a science rather than an art. And I realized it sort of both. And I do like the art portion of it. I do like being able to look at a green as you’re walking up and trying to figure out how the balls are going to move on that green, and in you really should. If you want to be a good putter, you really should start paying attention to the green as far back as you can see the dang thing, because you’ll get a really good idea of the slope, just the natural slopes to that green as you’re walking up to it. So along with that, you want to kind of consider.
As a kid, my grandpa didn’t let me go out on the golf course very often until I got a little bit older. I think we had to be 8-10 years old, somewhere in there before we were allowed on the golf course. And so that gave us a lot of time to sort of sit around and mess with chipping and putting any kind of getting into golf that way. That is, I believe, that’s the best way to get into golf. If you have a son or a daughter or just a young person who’s trying to get in the game of golf, putting and chipping and just falling in love with that aspect of the game is a great way to go. I used to take my kids out, and we would just have contest after contest who could get closer, how many could you make out of three and then we just had such a great time, you know, working on our games together out there. There’s a little putting green out in the middle of nowhere at the home course here and nobody was ever out there, which was just a lot of fun to be together. Usually, my oldest would drive the golf cart and circles around the green, and then the two youngest, and they would figure out how to putt and chip and do different things. But we had a great time doing it. That’s a great way to get into golf.
How To Read A Green?
But I always remember trying to teach them how to read the brakes and how difficult that was. And I never ever had a very good explanation on how you could understand how it broke. And they were always fascinated with how I could tell something was breaking. We went out once and spent some time as a family with Fred Shoemaker. And I was explaining to Fred that. And we were out working on the pedigree and I was explaining to Fred like, I can’t explain to these kids how to read a green. And so he tried a new way of describing it for them and he asked them and I thought it was brilliant. I’ve used it a lot since. But he asked them to picture water bubbling out of the hole just bubbling out of the hole. And which way with the water run when it came out of the hole, and that for my kids, worked. Their minds instantly started looking at holes and trying to figure out the water pouring out of the holes and which way the water ran. And that helps them learn how to read greens. It helped me learn how to read greens. And that that’s something that a lot of us have done growing up, right? When the rain starts to pour, Vain and I will run usually run out to the golf course and grab a golf cart and try to get out to some of the greens that are most confusing because we want to see how the water is running on that green. So we can figure out how to put that green a little bit better. So that’s sort of everybody has their way then of learning to read a green.
And then these guys, Aimpoint Golf came out. I was fascinated. And fortunately, we had somebody come through Utah, who was teaching us on this particular way to read greens. And originally it was super, super complicated. It was kind of expensive because we had to buy these big huge books. But it was super technical. And it was super accurate as far as I could tell. I mean, in my experience, it was super accurate. And it was brilliant right. Finally, we were using data to read a green and I always used to get so frustrated when people would talk about, you’d go play a golf course and everybody would say, Oh, you know what, everything moves to the valley. And you know, inevitably, some parts of the greens don’t move to the valley, because really, the valley has no real pull on anything. I get that there are some courses where it seems like everything’s going to the valley, but it’s not. We’re just talking about straight up simple gravity. That’s all it is. Any golf course architect can make it so the balls never go to the valley if they don’t want them to.
It’s just a matter of adding slope to a green. So there is no magical pull to the valley. There is no magical pole to a river. There is no magical pull to anything. Now, there’s definitely some greens on different courses that do go to the valley. But the valley has nothing to do with it. The architect just happened to have the slope go that way. A course up on the side of the hill, maybe architects have a harder time getting those greens flat, and maybe they have a harder time tilting them to go in towards the hill. And so they do go towards the valley, and maybe greens that are tilted aesthetically look terrible. We’re just talking gravity. And that’s what Aimpoint basically has proven to the entire world is that it’s just gravity. And then we have to figure out what the degree of slope is. And then we have some nice calculations to make. Well, originally it was this huge book. And so I went to the course, and I went through the course. It was about, I don’t know. It’s like three to four hours, it was super technical.
They had all these different stations set up where we could kind of figure it out and practice using this book. And it was super helpful. I didn’t quite get it the first time, I have to admit. I went back again a second time, a month later, to kind of take it all in again, because it was so much information. And it was so technical. But it worked. The second time I got it, I would whip out the book. It took me a little time to walk it off and get it all figured out. But it really worked. I mean, it was straight up data and if you knew what the degree of the slope was, you could be super accurate with your putting. And then you’d have to figure the speed out as well. But they had calculations for that to do as well. Was it a little annoying to my plane partners? Absolutely. I definitely took a lot more time figuring out how to putt a green than I did previously because it was kind of a complicated system. But Aimpoint was dead on and I loved them for it. Loved it. I am absolutely thrived using Aimpoint. Yes, you have to put a good stroke on the ball and all of those little drills that I gave in the last podcast, that’s going to help you absolutely have a wonderful putting stroke that’s very, very accurate and very precise. You’re going to be able to control your face. And you’re going to check out to see if you’re moving or not. Those drills will help you with that.
How To Read A Green With Aimpoint?
And now, how do we read the green will Aimpoint brilliantly at, nothing short of brilliant, simplified the process of reading greens. And you’ve seen it now on tour, some people are taking it in. But again, much like the TrackMan and everything else, golf is slow to at least the talking heads and those that played for a living way back in the day, who dug it out of the dirt and didn’t use technology. There just seems to be a little bit of some pushback from those fellas on embracing technology, right? Embracing data and feedback and all of that. So it is funny. When Aimpoint Express first came out. And Aimpoint Express is a brilliant system. You use the same setup as you did before with regular Aimpoint with the big book. The first skill that you have to get really, really good at is being able to fill the slope of green in your feet. You have to decide, is it one degree two degree three degrees, four degrees. Rarely are they more than four degrees, but you have to figure out what that slope is. And then you use that degree of slope, and you hold up a number of fingers to give you an idea of where your Aimpoint has to be in order to make that putt. So it really starts there. And so Aimpoint, when you go to a point and it happened with regular Aimpoint and happens with Aimpoint Express (and I’ve been to an Aimpoint Express classes since) but you practice really on making sure that what you feel is accurate, because if you can get that down then Aimpoint is really quite extraordinary to use. It’s super simple to use. But that’s the art, and the skill and the science of it, is making sure that you can feel the slope.
But I found this little tiny degree reader. It’s a little bit larger than a ball mark, one of those poker chip type ball marks, and it has a digital readout. Well, I found one of those online. I just did a Google search and found it. I’ll do another one and throw it down in the podcast notes so you guys can go grab one yourself. I just took this thing and started walking around. And when I had a putt, I step up behind it kind of get a feel and I drop it down and see if I was closer or not. So that’s how I started to work on being able to feel in my feet what the degree of the slope was. And if you can get that down, then Aimpoint is super, super simple. You get it down to let’s say I’ve got a 10 footer, and I get behind my putt, just one kind of step back behind my putt. I feel the slope that it’s two degrees. I hold up two fingers and depending on how wide your fingers are, all of that, and then how fast the green is, would sort of change how far you stick your arm out back and forth, faster greens, that stump, you know, really quickly. They’re going to break more. Slower greens are going to break less. We all know that. And so depending on how fast they are, you either hold your fingers closer to you for more break or further away for you for less break.
Just as sort of a side note, if greens get faster than stamping at a 10 then I will actually just add an extra finger. That’s easier for me that works for me. It’s been super accurate. I can always remember to stick my arm out how far away I have to stick my hand. Okay, so you get the slope, you then hold out your two fingers. If it’s a superfan screen, you may need to hold out three fingers as I do. Or you need to hold your hand closer to us to give you a little more, and you sort of getting that all dialed in on the practice screen before you go out. The slopes are always the same. You’re basically just dialing in how far out you’re going to stick your fingers. Or if you’re going to add a finger takeaway a finger if you’re me. But then you have the ability to go out and read greens with a great deal of confidence that you can make these putts. But the art and the science comes down to really understanding what your feet are telling you as far as slope goes.
So that’s what these folks are doing. I’ve heard of some pros that don’t really want to get into it. So they’ve had their caddies go on learning how to use Aimpoint. But Aimpoint is a brilliant way to learn how to read a green. And if you don’t want to use it out there, there was a time when holding up your fingers was maybe a little bit embarrassing, but I’m telling you after you make three putts in a row, everybody asks you what you’re doing and wants to figure out how to do it. And that’s where it gets a little bit weird because I think Aimpoint should be able to make all the money coming up with this brilliance. But it is so simple to teach and help people to understand it. It’s not so simple to learn how to read the slopes with your feet. But the system itself, Aimpoint Express, is a brilliant system to use data to read green so you can make more putts. I just love it. I think it’s fantastic. And anybody who has an opportunity to go attend one of these Aimpoint Express classes or clinics, do it even if you choose not to use it. There’s a lot of people that putt this way. They talk about how they putt by feel, well, whatever. But what most of these folks don’t realize is that they are feeling the slope there in their feet. They are feeling that slope. And then this feels that they’re talking about is based on what they’ve already felt. And so then they’re making a putt. That’s all Aimpoint is. We’ve just basically formalized feel. We’re still using feel but now we’re taking data out of it and we’re able to then hold up the right number of fingers for the amount of slope there is and have a very accurate data-based point where we can aim the golf ball and take a shot at it.
And so back to my example, I hold up two fingers next to the hole and I get a point out there. And then I basically just draw a straight line. I usually just hold up my putter and I’ll have a straight line from between my ball and where that spot was out there. And then I’ll pick a spot two to three inches in front of the ball and make sure that the ball goes right over that point. Which if you go back to the drills that I was talking about. I keep talking about that point right in front of the golf ball. Well, I find that point using Aimpoint Express, that’s how I read the brakes. And anyway, it’s a brilliant method. This is how golf is going. This is a perfect example of how golf is progressing. We went from trying to figure out how to read putts. We started believing a lot of the stories that they were moving towards the valley or water or whatever and it’s none of that. It’s just basic gravity folks, that’s just basic, simple science. It’s gravity. It’s pulling the same everywhere on Earth. Now we just have to make sure that we read the slopes and read the greens. There’s a lot of different ways to do that. There are a number of different ways to visualize what the break is. The water bubbling out of the hole. I’ve heard of, you know, thinking of water running away from the hole. Thinking of water being dumped, dumped on top of a green and senior which way it goes to try to figure out what they are. But really, the most accurate way is just to stand there and walk between you and the hole and feel it. Feel what that slope is, and then be able to associate some kind of a number to it, and then be able to hold up your fingers to figure out what your aim point is. It’s such a beautiful, simple way to read a green.
And then we so my hats off to Aimpoint Express. I think that they are amazing. I think that they’ve helped us immensely. And they’ve basically fallen in with how golf is progressing. We are getting to a point where we are going to understand and through feedback, be able to develop our games so much more quickly than we ever have been able to do so in the past. And Aimpoint is one of these groups that is leading and this is unpaid. I am not being sponsored by Aimpoint. But Aimpoint is one of these groups, visionary groups that are using data to help us get much better at our golf game. And I absolutely applaud them for it. Thank you, Aimpoint. So if you have that opportunity, definitely take them up on it. Again, lots of cool stuff going to be coming out from the merchandising show. I just happened to catch a few people talking about Aimpoint and that they finally understood it. I don’t know these poor guys have been out for 10 years and there are really popular golf folks that are just barely getting to understand it, but they have been doing great work for a long time. So thanks for joining us today. Remember better data always means better golf and Aimpoint Express gives you better data.