Google Earth is a free service that allows you to visit virtually any golf course on Earth and create drawings of the eighteen greens that you can use when making a Custom Greens Book and charting those greens on the golf course. (NOTE: Custom Greens Books are available in our Online Store for $3.95 each.) Registration for
this amazing service is absolutely free at googleearth.com. Once you log on to Google
Earth, you will encounter a page like the one pictured below.
Finding Your Golf Course
The world's a big place. But finding a golf
course is simple; just enter the name of the course, the address (if you know it) and the city in the
SEARCH box in the upper left of the screen. In this case, you’ll see
that we entered the name of Wilson Golf Course, Los Angeles, CA. Then,
click the SEARCH button and Google Earth will fly you to that golf
The Main Overview Page
This next screen shot shows how Google Earth took us to the overview of Wilson Golf Course, which is in Griffith Park in Los Angeles. To illustrate how to use Google Earth to create greens charts for your Custom Greens Book, we’ll show how we would create a greens chart for the #18 green, which is near the clubhouse. In this case, the #18 green is just above the letter G in the words Wilson Golf Course, and has a bunker on each side.
Zooming In On The Green
To get the shape of this green for our chart, we need to zoom in for a closer look. To zoom in, you can use the ZOOM Tool which is in the upper right of the Google Earth screen, and has plus (+) and minus (–) indications. You can also use your mouse wheel to zoom in and out. However, when you zoom in, Google Earth tilts its angle to give a more natural view, as if you were flying over the golf course.
This view is useful in exploring a golf course, but it is not as useful in getting a greens shape for a drawing for your Custom Greens Book. For that, you need a top-down view.
Getting A Top-Down View
There are two ways to get a top-down view of the green. You can simply type “R” on your keyboard to "Reset" the view, and continue to do this each time you zoom in. But that gets a little tedious. The best way to get a top-down view (especially if you're charting a number of greens) is to change the default settings of Google Earth to disable the automatic tilt. This is shown on the next screen shot.
To get to this
screen, go to the TOOLS menu at the upper left, then select, OPTIONS,
and then NAVIGATION. On this NAVIGATION screen choose “Do not automatically tilt
while zooming” as shown in the above screen shot.
This screen shot shows a top down view of the #18 green without a tilt.
Rotate The Green Image And Draw The Center Line
The next thing is to rotate the screen so that you are viewing the
green from a straight line to the middle of the fairway. To rotate the
picture, use the EYE tool at the upper right of the Google Earth screen (the one with the N on the outer ring). Just grab the outer ring
of the EYE tool and drag it until the fairway is
positioned directly below the green (as if it was due South on a map).
Next step is to draw a center line from the center of the green to the center of the fairway. To do this, go to TOOLS, then RULER and use the LINE tool. Select YARDS as your unit of measurement. Click on the center of the green, and then move your cursor to somewhere on the center of the fairway. Click again, and it will draw a line indicating your position as seen below.
Zoom In For The Final Greens Drawing
Then, you can zoom in to the green while keeping the center LINE onscreen. This will give you the perfect reference point for your greens drawing. We always want to reference our greens charts from the center of the fairway. This helps you orient yourself once you get to the course and start taking measurements.
Use this onscreen image to draw the Greens Shape on the appropriate page in your Custom Greens Book. If it helps, PRINT this image and use it to trace the image into your Custom Greens Book.
Measure The Depth And Width Of The Green
Next, you can use the LINE tool to measure the depth and width of the green. Just CLEAR the center line you were using. Then click at the top and bottom of the green and use the LINE tool to give you the readings for DEPTH and WIDTH. It's remarkably accurate.
Enter this DEPTH and WIDTH information into the appropriate place for that hole in your Custom Greens Book. Repeat this process for all 18 greens on the golf course, drawing the greens shape for each hole on the appropriate page in the Custom Greens Book.
Take The Greens Book With You To The Course
Then, take the Custom Greens Book with you to the golf course. Every time you play a round, take a reading or two with your BreakMaster after you putt (this is LEGAL as long as you do it after putting, not before). Make note of the Break Direction (with an arrow) and the Break Amount (number of degrees) and enter that information in your Custom Greens Book. Over a few rounds, you will have a greens chart for each green like the one below.
Use this chart for putting and for approach shots every time you play the course. In this way, you’ll know exactly where to land your approach shots so that you’re putting uphill at the hole rather than across the break. This gives you a straight line for your putts and eliminates the break. (Straight putts are easier than breaking putts, right? See our feature on straight putts HERE) And if you ARE putting across the break, you’ll know how much break to allow for by using the charts in the back of the Custom Greens Book. Enjoy those lower scores!