Science and Golf II: Proceedings of the 1994 World Scientific Congress of Golf

By A. J. Cochran; M. R. Farrally | Go to book overview

28

A study of golfers' abilities to read greens

D. Pelz

Independent Golf Research Corporation, Austin, Texas, USA

Abstract

An interesting phenomenon has been discovered to exist in golf, in that golfers consistently and substantially underestimate the amount putts break, sometimes by a factor of 3 to 5. A detailed study of 313 golfers shows that for men, women, pros and amateurs, the inability to predict the correct amount of break in putts is accompanied by sub-conscious compensations, set-up alignment and in-stroke compensations during the stroke itself. Most golfers tend to stand in what may be the wrong position to read their putts, and the method of plumb-bobbing proved to make no difference whatsoever. After repeatedly putting the poorly read putts, and watching their balls roll to the hole, golfers did not recognize either the amount of break they actually played, or the amount they should have played. The golfers learned very little from the experience of watching their own putts, which substantiates why this problem can exist today.

Keywords: Greens, Putting, Reading Greens, Underestimate, Borrow, Plumb-bob


1 Introduction

I teach a significant amount of golf, spending approximately 25% of my working days helping golfers discover and correct weaknesses in their 'short games' and improving their abilities to score. Approximately one half of my teaching focuses on golfers' putting and in this work, with all skill levels from PGA Tour players, through handicaps of all values, I have discovered a consistent, recurring problem. The problem is, most players consistently underestimate the amount of break (borrow) they need to allow for, to efficiently roll their putts into the hole.

Poor green reading is so prevalent and severe in my schools, that I associate at least part of most players' putting difficulties with it. Because of this severity, I have conducted a study of golfers' green reading abilities, which is the subject of this report.

My study consisted of measuring 1) golfers' ability to estimate the amount their putts will curve or break on the way to the hole (their ability to read the green), and 2) what they learn from their putting, following this estimation. This testing included 179 amateur players reading and putting to 40 different holes (423 individual player-hole samples), 128 PGA club professionals putting to 4 different holes (258 samples), and 6 PGA Tour professionals putting to 20 different holes (54 samples). 23% of the amateurs, and 10% of professionals were female. Measurements were

Science and Golf II: Proceedings of the World Scientific Congress of Golf. Edited by A.J. Cochran and M.R. Farrally. Published in 1994 by E & FN Spon, London. ISBN 0 419 18790 1

-180-

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