Green Reading Help, Learning from Stack Putting Beta

I’m a newer golfer who found my local municipal practice courses had extremely easy greens that gave me some false confidence. Some of the better courses nearby had significantly more slope changes, and were much faster, leading to a lot of three putts.

I started using The Stack’s putting beta, and am improving quickly (turns out I picked up over 2+ strokes switching to heads up putting), especially speed control. However, I’ve also learned that I basically have no idea how to read greens. I started getting a well/sloped area and setting up putting positions four feet out at 12/3/6/9 o’clock, then doing 5 feet, then 6. This is prompting improvement, but my first putts on downhill or strongly sloped left/right or right/left are often off. Add to that one of my local courses has greens faster than the others (which are not slow) and I realize I need a system.

I am aware of Aimpoint and may go down that road, but I’m wondering what people who don’t do Aimpoint do. I could continue my around-the-clock putting working from 4 to 15 feet or so, but change the slope or stimp and things get a little wonky.

Advice appreciated.

Wondering specifically if the Pelz or Stockton books cover this material.


I putt much more with visualization and feel vs technical approaches. I love Dave Stockton’s book/approach in ‘unconscious putting’. getting better at speed control takes time, practice and playing. I do my best read of the putt, then step in and roll it with confidence, believing it will go. Doesn’t always but when I putt this way and don’t drift off into other thoughts, I putt well. One man’s opinion, no right answer here I believe, what approach works best for you will take time and experiment to find, good luck!


I have a centre shafted putter. I stand behind the ball and hang my putter so it covers the flagstick. If the ball is on the left side of the shaft the putt breaks to the right and vice versa. Hardly ever wrong.

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Hi @Spells - welcome to the wonderful and maddening game of golf, and welcome to this great forum!

Congrats on realizing early on that you need to learn to read break on the greens; I also congratulate you on working on heads up putting … imho a really great way to learn and to practice distance control … which is The #1 Important Skill in putting.

(* also important are a square face at impact and starting the ball rolling on your intended line)

–> Get the first putt really close = no (well, realistically way fewer) 3 putts!! :+1:

As far as reading break there are several methods including plumb bobbing, vector analysis and AimPoint. There are also green reading books and apps available to use during practice (not handicap or tournament rounds).

Visualization can work if you try to imagine where water would flow off the green during a heavy rain and try to overlay that image on the area of green between your ball and the hole. One problem, though, is it doesn’t really tell you how much break to play…

So all that said, personally I’m a user of and a fan of AimPoint Express - a few years ago I’d attended a clinic and honestly it instantly transformed my putting. Green reading seems so simple and stress free to me now that I really only concentrate on my distance and making a smooth, solid putting stroke.

No, it doesn’t make sense to everybody but as you research different methods I’d suggest you do look into it.

Finding the combo of heads up
and Stack putting paying off in a big way. Picking up a ton of strokes, and gaining confidence.

First 9 holes yesterday had zero 3-putts and 3 one-putts, including a 30+ footer.

Need to clean up green reading but speed control solves a ton of problems.

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It is great, that you could rely on technology which, does not stand on the green which it gives advice to, Does not have the topography of the green you’re putting, and have no idea of what the turf is like, which type of grass they use on the putting green and the orientation of the sun light.

It always amazes me how we thought the technology could take over the one which sat on our shoulders.

Maybe one day it could, but not in the near future.

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Please. People do SG analysis, practice their weaknesses, and their scores drop.

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Never said that you could not do it. I’ve never criticize a pink Cadillac neither.
Have fun and enjoy.

All the power to you if it helps your game. Just pointing out the obvious.

It’s not obvious, just obviously wrong, and it’s persistent.

I just spent five minutes looking to see if there was a mute function. There is!

I haven’t tried Aimpoint yet, but with all the talk about it I’ll probably look into it. I have read Pelz and Stockton and I felt like I got a lot of good tips out of their books. If you are mainly struggling with speed I would look into Stockton as I think he has some great tips on where to focus for long putts and/or putts with lots of slope. I liked Pelz, but felt his books are more about how to practice.

For me I got some of the best help from lessons with a pro. I had a few playing lessons that opened my eyes and then some great stuff indoors. I was struggling with my stroke and he gave me some drills that really helped a lot.

For some reason I always seemed to read greens decently, but I would struggle with speed on long putts and then pulling or pushing short putts. I’m definitely not completely cured of this, but I used to 3-putt a LOT and now I don’t.

I’m not usually one to blame equipment, but a putter fitting may not be a bad idea if you haven’t had one. I think some players can putt well with anything on any greens, but the rest of us need all the help we can get. I had improvement with the following changes: shorter putter, flatter lie, backweight, toe hang and midsize grip. I also found moving away from putters with cheap inserts helped with my speed. I swore some were dead on long putts, but too lively on mid range ones. Maybe just in my head, but I improved getting away from “White Hot” inserts and the like.

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I agree with you there, even though the “feel” of a putter is of course a very personal thing. But, for me, I totally believe I get better distance control with a milled face - with some sort of groove tech to help roll the ball well - and not an insert.


No idea on Stockton. I don’t believe Pelz delves into green reading very heavy, either in Putt Like The Pros or Short Game Bible.

Me, I’d get a small, digital level if you can find one. Take it onto these greens and gather some data. See what a 4% slope feels like and what it does to your ball.


If you ever going to do this, put the level on different spot on the green to map out the contour. Experience ( local knowledge) trump everything else, try to learn from it. Again, the tech help could shorten the chase to find acceptable answers, but not always a good solution, in golf as well as in life.
A few observations.
The background always play a part of influencing the putting. The visual observation of the putting surface may be played into the design to trick your mind.
Some green will make one believe the break is from back to the front but the general fairway to the green to the back of the green is sloped front to the back, totally revere of the visual
inspection. Some spots will look like a speedy roll but the design is to slow down the speed of the putt.
This is why they say the local knowledge is valuable. The best way to learn without the techy method, is to play a variety of golf courses, different terrain, different type of grass used on the putting surface and different sizes of the putting surface.
The more one golf at different greens the more one should learn from the experience. If all of these are too much to take in all at once, take notes. We used to have a notepad to write down the details of the particular green. It’s much easier with a smartphone to take pictures/videos with audio notes.
The general rule of thumb of Breaking away from the mountains and toward the water is not always true, because of the design camouflaged the intend of the nature.
Alister MacKenzie was the first golf course designer using the camouflaged influences on the golf course design. Originally trained as a surgeon, MacKenzie served as a civilian physician with the British Army during the Boer War where he first became aware of the principles of camouflage.
If anyone wondering who he was, he was the designer of the Cypress Point, Augusta National among others.

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Here you go:
Step 1 - Every time you step onto a practice green think speed. Nothing else. Only speed. Your first priority is to establish how the greens are running today. Whether it be your local or a course new to you, they all behave differently day-to-day. I have a ‘standard’ putt: take a normal, comfortable stance over the ball, feet about 1 putter head width apart. Focus on the outside of your trail foot and bring your putter face to that. The putt will go 10’ or thereabouts, about 4 paces. You can practice the ‘standard’ putt anywhere (home, office); what you’re looking for is comfortable consistency in the stroke.
Step 2 - Take your ‘standard’ putt to the practice green. Find a vacant area and make a few ‘standard’ putts in your 12/3/6/9 pattern and pace off the results. That should give you a pretty decent feel for green speed and grain. Put a coin down and pace off 10’, 15’, 30’, etc and try to putt back to the coin exactly. As part of my putting routine I set the putter head on the ground at the end of my stroke (about 4” past my lead foot. It promotes a smoother stroke) as I turn my head to watch the ball roll out. My focus is on speed but I’m aware of any break as well. In just a handful of target-less putts, you’ll get a decent picture of the speed for that day.
Step 3 - Try to find a medium sloped area of the green. Place a tee in the ground and pace off about 10’-15’ and drop two dimes. Pace off another 10’-15’ and place another tee. Go back to the original tee and ‘read’ the putt to the second. Adjust the two dimes straddling your ‘line’ about a putter head width apart. Make a putt. Notice if your ball goes between the dimes. If not, work on your aim. If the putt goes thru the dime gate but is short/long of target, work on speed. If left/right (indicating a bad read), adjust the dime gate and repeat. Repeat for opposite direction.

Takeaway - Adapt to today’s green speed; when the ball parks a foot from the hole every time your mind will unconsciously adjust for break. A putt that stops 6’ short or blows 8’ past tells the brain nothing. How many times do we hear someone say “Oh, I didn’t play enough break!”, as the putt rolls out to 9’ past? Ludicrous. Break will come instinctively (when in doubt, play more break) but getting the speed right is the art of putting.

Hope this helps!


Great practice routine! I do some of that but not as diligent with all of it as I could be… Thx!!