As the golf world turns its attention toward the Masters and Augusta National Golf Club, the course’s ultra-tight lies and lightning fast-greens will ultimately become a point of conversation.
Realistically, none of us are likely to play greens that are running 14 on the stimpmeter, but speed is relative. Whether you are a scratch, 5 or 25, you will encounter courses that play fast, and knowing how to handle those conditions could be the difference between a good day and disaster.
With that in mind, we went to Coach Allen Terrell, the director of instruction at the Dustin Johnson Golf School, for some advice. Through his work with DJ, Allen knows a thing or two about getting golfers prepped to play fast courses, and he provided us three tips to help you play on slick greens and tight lies.
“When reading greens – especially when they are fast – it’s important to assess your putt from the other side of the hole, because it will give you a truer feel for the speed of the putt. Too often, golfers don’t take the time to walk to the other side and so they don’t have an appreciation for the speed. You don’t need to spend all day staring at it, but while a playing partner is lining up his or her putt, take a quick glance and make sure you have a good feel for what you need to do.”
“A lot of everyday golfers hit firm and fast and play the least amount break possible. Playing on fast, undulating greens, you want to play more break and less speed. You want the ball to roll into the cup on the last revolution with a stroke that minimizes speed and maximizes break. Did you know if your ball has the speed to finish more than 16 inches past the hole, it cuts your chances of making the putt by 50 percent? With the speed to get 16+ inches past the hole, a ball won’t dive into the cup on the edges, you have to put it in the center.”
“When pitching on a course with tight lies, setup is crucial to ensuring you are able to use the bounce of your club. High handicappers want to play the ball back and lean the shaft forward, but that takes the bounce off the club and it’s nearly impossible to hit a shot precise enough to execute a chip off a tight lie; It makes the club face go closed, which is a death wish on a tight lie. What you need to do is play the ball from the center of your stance to a little forward, and you want the butt of your club pointing at your belt buckle, not the left pocket.”
Take Coach’s advice, and you will improve your play on and around fast greens.