BreakMaster Digital Green Reader

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Charting The Greens At The Riviera Country Club
By Ron Wilkerson, President, BreakMaster

Exelys was invited by the Riviera Country Club to measure the slope of their greens prior to the Northern Trust Open 2008. Of course, the main tool used in measuring the greens slope is the BreakMaster Digital Green Reader - the pro's choice for reading greens, and a tool that's used by hundreds of pros and tournament committees on all the major and minor tours.

The Satellite Image

We began with a satellite image of each green that was downloaded from the internet. Image quality is getting better all the time from such sources as Google Earth™ and others. The image here is courtesy of Google Earth™ and shows the green on hole #1 at Riviera. The line in the center of the image is a straight line to the middle of the fairway. This was drawn by using the measuring tool on Google Earth™ site.  All greens measurements reference the middle of the fairway.

The Template

The satellite image was used as a template and converted to an outline using an illustrator program. This process was done for all 18 greens and was printed out on 8.5"x 11" pages (Greens Maps) prior to the visit to the course. Center lines (both horizontal and vertical) were established in order to divide each green into four quadrants that can then be accurately measured.

Green Reading Tools

These are the tools of the "Greens Measuring Trade." At the center is the BreakMaster Digital Green Reader, taped here to a Leveling Skid that helps eliminate the effect of bumps and ball marks when dragged across the green. Also important are the Centering Sticks - two pieces of 8' pine (1.25"x .25") that have a center screw and alignment lines to facilitate exact perpendicular indication. Also included is a 300' measuring tape, the Greens Map pages on a clipboard and some golf hats that are used for indicating measuring lines on the greens.

Finding The Center

The next stage is to use the measuring tape to precisely measure each green to find the center lines. This process establishes not only the exact width and depth of each green but is also very important for finding the exact Center Point of the green. All measurements of the green begin from the Center Point.

The Center Point

The Center Point on each green is marked with a typical ball marker. Then the Centering Sticks are placed over the center mark.

The Center Of The Fairway

The Centering Sticks are placed with reference to the center of the fairway. The first stick aims directly down the center of the fairway (along the "depth" line of the green), regardless of the immediate approach from the green - which is seen here on the right. This makes sure that all the following measurements are accurate and readable on the course. Next, alignment lines on the Centering Sticks allow the horizontal stick (along the "width" line of the green) to be placed exactly along the horizontal center line.

The Measuring Lines

It's helpful to use some objects on the green to make sure that green readings are taken accurately along an exact line. Here we're showing the measuring tape placed at the far (fairway) end of the green and a hat placed at the near end of the green. This is the first line along which measurements will be taken.

The Leveling Skid

Here we're showing the BreakMaster as it is being dragged along the measuring line while taped to the Leveling Skid. Measurements are taken every 2 yards or so. Careful note is taken of ridge lines or depressions on the green. It is important to take special care and increased number of measurements when measuring these kinds of areas.

Charting The Green

This is an example of how the notes are taken. Notes are taken with Arrows showing the break direction at each measuring point on the green (with reference to the Centering Sticks). Numbers are written showing the Degrees (break amount) at each measuring point. As the BreakMaster is dragged across the green the break direction and the amount of break will frequently change. Sometimes radically -as you see at the upper right part of this green.

Using The Cut Lines

Sometimes, it is helpful to use the "cut lines" when measuring the green - but only if they are cut in the same direction as the Centering Sticks indicate. Once a line along the green is measured, then we move the hats (or other indicators) two yards to the left (or right) and take another line of break readings. In this way, the entire green is then measured and recorded.

The Greens Map

Here is the final greens map, ready to be assembled into a Greens Book that will help the pros and other golfers to lower their scores by knowing the break in advance of their approach shots and putts. This map is of hole #1 on Riviera. How get the other 17 holes? Either join Riviera where the Greens Books are available, or get a BreakMaster and make a Greens Book for your own favorite course.

The Riviera Greens Book

Here is the final greens map, used in the Northern Trust Open.

The Results

A number of golfers in the in the Northern Trust Open, used this Greens Book.  One of them, Scott McCarron, came in Number One in putting for the tournament. 

He attributed his success to the fact that, because he was using our Greens Book, he knew which way the ball would break before he made his putt. 

Knowledge of the break is power in lowering scores.

If you would like to purchase the Riviera Greens Book, they are available for $19.95 from BreakMaster.  Contact us at 818.385.0824.