As a golfer, you’ll always want to go low. Too many golfers tend to grind at the range and purchase fancy new accessories hoping to get better, not knowing that focusing on putting can save even more strokes. Half the battle is reading a green, the other half is lining up a putt. Surprise, you can’t line a putt up without reading the green (and marking a golf ball).
Putting is the most challenging but crucial aspect to consider when lowering golf scores. Think about a par-3. It’s possible to reach the par-3 hole’s green with one shot, but a 3 putt still means you make bogey. Cut that by a stroke and it’s a par. Drop two putts and you make birdie, erasing an error from a different hole.
Note that all the things you do related to the putt are a total waste if you struggle with alignment and reading the green. However, you can help your putts by setting yourself on the correct line. There’s a reason putters have a line visible when standing over a putt and the ball has one to match.
In this informative post, you’ll learn how to use an alignment line to avoid missing your putts. But, before that, what does it mean to read a green? Let’s see!
How do you read a green or putt?
To read a green/putt means to imagine, visualize, picture, guess or foresee the line followed by a ball after striking it. Some putts remain straight, but a significant percentage of them will break either enormously or very slightly.
You read the green to understand how the putt will curve. With this understanding, you’ll strike the ball in the correct direction and have it end up in hole, or at worst a foot or two away. By reading the green, you’ll get the visual information needed to get your golf ball in the correct line and compensate for any break.
Judging a putt combines the ball speed and line or direction. Here, ball speed means how far the golf ball will travel, which translates to how slow/fast it will roll. Naturally, putts going uphill need more ball speed and downhill means less ball speed.
Therefore, the faster your golf ball travels, the less it will break. Also, the slower it travels, the more it’ll break. The primary factors affecting the ball’s direction and speed include wind, grain, base, slope, moisture level, and grass length.
When you’re deciding how to read a green, get down behind your putt and look towards the hole. Take into consideration the things above, slope from the side and uphill or downhill, and decide which way you think the putt will break. The greater the slopes, the more you need to take it into consideration.
As you improve, you will get better at determining how far out from the hole to aim or how much speed to add or subtract. Taking this into consideration means more putts landing at the bottom of the hole or within gimme distance.
Help your putts by marking a golf ball and using the alignment line
Using the alignment line entails drawing a line on the ball to guide you in the correct direction to hit the golf ball. But is it legal to draw this line? Yes, it’s legal to draw the alignment line on the golf ball. For clarification, this can be a new line or an extension of the one already on the side of the ball.
When you’re reading the green, you get an idea of where the ball will go. Between reading the putt and lining the putt up, you can lose the spot you’re aiming at. Place the alignment line directly where you want to aim. When you stand over the ball, you can use this line to determine your aim, rather than guessing. We go a bit deeper into this in the section below.
If you always watch golf players on the PGA or European Tour, you may realize that they mark the golf balls on the green. After doing this, they rotate the balls before placing them down to match the lines they have drawn on the golf balls.
Regardless of what level golf you are playing, you cannot touch your ball without marking it first. Yes, even rotating the ball is a penalty. Mark your ball using a coin, poker chip, anything. While the marker is down, keeping a placeholder for where your ball was, line the putt up and then remove the marker when you’re ready to hit.
Why line putts up?
Do you want to set up the putt on the intended line? If yes, then you can make it easier by marking a golf ball.
With an alignment line, you can avoid a hooking motion or sweeping movement during the putt. Besides this, consider drawing a line on the ball if you want to get more confidence as you play a putt.
With a ball alignment line, you’ll find it easy to line up the putt and increase your confidence you’ll make the putt. This line will make it easy for you to see the ball as it falls short or drops in the golf hole.
If you always watch professional golfers, you’ll realize they implement this technique before each putt. As a result, this explains why they remain confident and feel comfortable before they strike the golf ball. If they take the time to line up a putt, you should to.
How to practice lining up the golf ball
How to practice is one of the dilemmas you’ll face after deciding to line up your ball with every putt. But, don’t worry!
Consider practicing on putts inside ten feet. As you get more comfortable at this distance, you can employ this tactic to build confidence on lag putts and slam home 4-footers. Remember, you have exponentially lower chances to make the putt if you are not reading the green and then lining up the putt.
As much as we’d like to trust our instincts, visual aids lead to better results. You won’t make every putt, not even the pros do, but your misses will get closer and 3-putts will drop.
What color is the best for marking a golf ball?
Nearly every golfer uses a Sharpie or some other permanent marker to mark their ball. A lot of golfers use black color for the line, mainly because it provides nice contrast against a white ball. In reality, most colors work. There is no one way to mark a golf ball, just ask the pros.
Some colors we’d avoid though when marking a golf ball are gold, silver, and green. Golf and silver Sharpies don’t show up well. With a green marker, grass stains will occasionally distort the line. Speaking of which, marker lines wear off and need to be re-marked if you play more than one round with the same ball and they leave marks on your club. These marks wear off the clubface, but also give you an idea of where you hit the ball.