Knowing The Break Before You Get To The Green

Uphill Putts Are Your Friends

If you're putting uphill, you're doing a straight putt with no left or right break (the break direction).  The only break you face on an uphill putt is the break amount, or severity of the slope (degrees of slope).  This can be adjusted in your putt by how hard you hit the ball.  Worst case, you'll miss the putt and your ball will end up a bit past the hole, but you will have gravity working for you, in that the ball will slow down before it goes too far.   Best case, you'll make the putt because it's straight on.

So How Do You Get This Information?

Which Approach Shot Is Best?

Chart the greens on the golf courses you play.  How do you chart the greens?  With the BreakMaster, and a Custom Greens Book.

Chart the greens. 

Know the break before you get there. 

Plan your approach shots. 

And lower your scores!

                                By Ron Wilkerson, President, BreakMaster

Lately, I've been reading a lot of articles on how to take the break out of your putt.  Some golfers suggest that this be done by hitting the ball harder so that gravity has less effect.  This is certainly possible, but it's inherently risky, in that if you miss the cup, your ball could wind up quite a few feet beyond it.  It is also risky in that the ball could simply fly over the hole, bouncing on the back edge and ending up God knows where (usually not in the hole). 

Fortunately, there is a better way to take the break out of your putt -- know the break before you get to the green and plan your approach shot to land downhill of the cup.  In this way you'll always be putting uphill, and therefore the (left or right) break direction will not be a factor. 

OK, unless you're Carnac the Magnificent with his amazing intuitive powers, you need a map of how the greens break (charting the greens).  To get this map, you need three things: a BreakMaster, a Custom Greens Book, and a previous round or two on that green.  If you create a Greens Book for every golf course you play, you'll know the break of each green as you approach it.  And thus, you can plan your approach shots to land downhill of the hole, rather than on a left or right break.

But if you land your approach shot at B, you will be doing a straight putt uphill (with no left or right break).    By putting from B, you've taken the left/right break (break direction) out of your putt and can putt straight uphill.  The only adjustment you have to make is for the break amount (severity).  But that's a lot easier adjustment, and you're more likely to end up closer to the hole even if you miss it. 

You'll see how this sometimes runs counter to our natural instincts.  Most golfers would aim straight at the hole, but if you end up between B and C, you'll still have a lot of right to left break to contend with, plus the uphill break amount.  This is why you want to know the break of the green before you get there, so you can plan your approach for a 1-putt up-and-down, or at worst, a 2-putt.

BreakMaster Digital Green Reader


Look at the greens map on the left (a map of the #5 green on Wilson Golf Course in Los Angeles).  If the hole is in the center of the green in the lower right quarter (as shown) and you are approaching the green from straight down the fairway, where would you rather land your approach shot?   A, B, and C are all approximately twenty feet from the hole.   Which one is best?  

This green has a pretty serious break of from 3 to 4 degrees at the hole.  That means that if you land at either A or C you will have to allow a lot of offset for the break (believe it or not, for a 20 foot putt it can be as much as 8 feet!).  It will break to the left from C, or to the right from A.  In either case, you're not likely to sink either of those putts, and you might not even end up close.