If you’re a high-handicapper, then you’re probably scared and absolutely terrified of putting on fast greens, and it’s with good reason; if you don’t know how to putt on fast greens, they can be diabolical.
Putting downhill is every golfer’s nightmare, and even PGA Tour players do their utmost to avoid leaving themselves with downhill putts. But it’s not just downhill putts; many of the elite and exclusive golf courses are renowned for having lightning-quick greens, with some golfers referring to the greens as “putting on glass.”
But are quick greens really that difficult to putt on? or are there practical tips and strategies you can take to combat lightning-quick greens? Well, luckily for you, there are.
In this article, I’ll outline simple yet effective strategies that will have you putting with confidence on those fast greens. You’ll no longer live in fear of that one course you know has greens as fast as glass.
Here are just some of the things that you’ll learn in this comprehensive guide to conquering fast greens:
- Techniques to improve your stroke
- Practice tips and drills
- Putting styles and equipment
- Tips on setup and
- Tips on avoiding downhill putts
Ok, golfers, let’s get started!
5 Simple Tips To Conquer Fast Greens
Putting on fast greens requires you to learn and implement a number of different strategies. It will take time and a little bit of hard work, but once you’re putting and, more importantly, “making” putts on fast greens, it’ll all be worth it.
So let’s take a look at five simple steps that you can take to boost your confidence and start making putts.
1. It’s All About Feel
When it comes to putting on fast greens having an incredible feel and soft hands is almost a prerequisite. Just as when you play a drop shot in tennis, the last thing you want to do is strangle the racquet handle; the same rings true when putting on fast greens.
Ensuring you have soft hands is the most important factor in putting on fast greens. If you struggle with “feel,” which many golfers do, the simplest and easiest way to improve soft hands is by gripping the putter lightly.
I like to teach golfers to imagine that the grip is like a little baby bird. If you hold the bird too tight, you’ll strangle it; rather, you should be holding the bird with soft hands and a whole lot of love; now, I know it sounds strange, but this is precisely how you should think when putting on fast greens; hold the grip exactly as you’d hold a baby bird.
2. Allow For More Break
When you play on greens that are lightning quick or like putting on glass, the first thing you will have to allow for is playing more break on your putts. This is much easier said than done, especially for those putters who like to putt aggressively and take a more direct line to the cup.
On fast greens, most high-handicappers fail to make the adjustment and allow for more break; the end result? Putts that miss on the low side and continue to pick up speed as they move past the hole. More often than not, these putts end up further away from the hole than the original putt.
Learning to take more break on your putts is only going to be possible by practicing. Head over to the practice green instead of spending countless hours on the driving range hitting your favorite club. Once there, look for an area of the green that’s either lightning fast or downhill. You can practice gripping the putter like a “baby bird” and start to get acclimatized to your new style.
Watch how the putts react when you take less break or hold the grip tightly instead of holding the grip softly. Taking notes on how well you putted from different distances will also help you out on the course. Are your putts missing on the high or low side? Knowing this information will allow you to make the appropriate adjustments and ultimately make more putts.
3. Warm-Up On The Practice Greens
Are you one of those golfers like my father, who steps straight out of the car, picks up his cart, and heads directly to the first tee with absolutely no warm-up? If this sounds like you, you’re doing more harm than good, especially if the course you’re playing on has quick greens.
Instead of rushing around every time you arrive at the golf course, plan to get there at least 15-20 minutes early to give yourself some time to get some practice putts in. This tip is especially important if you’re playing on a course that you’ve never played before. Regardless of the speed of the greens, taking the time to get some practice in before the round will go a long way in lowering your score and increasing your chance of making some putts.
If the greens are fast on the practice green, then you can almost guarantee that they’ll be lightning-quick out on the course. Imagine the advantage you’ll have over your playing partners, knowing that the greens will be quick. You’ll be sinking putts and getting “up-and-down,” while they three-putt every hole and look completely bamboozled by the speed of the greens.
4. Avoid Downhill Putts
Ok, so one of the most effective ways to putt better on fast greens is by leaving your ball on the low side of every pin. Countless times I’ve seen amateurs and high-handicappers hit beautiful approach shots only to realize once they’re on the green, their ball is in the worst possible position to putt from.
They’ve left themselves with a downhill putt, and although they’re only three feet from the hole, the upcoming putt is treacherously fast; it’s one of those putts that if you don’t hit it like a feather, it’ll blow ten feet past the hole in an instant.
The easiest way to mitigate leaving your putts on the high side is to purchase a yardage book from the pro shop. The yardage book has details on the undulations and elevations of the greens as well as the pin positions for the day’s play.
Generally, golf courses will use a numbered system for their pin sheets:
- Zone 1 pins will be cut at the front of the green
- Zone 2 pins will be cut in the middle of the green and
- Zone 3 pins will be cut at the back of the green
PGA Tour players know precisely how difficult it is to make downhill putts. This is why their number one priority on approach shots is to leave themselves either a flat or slightly uphill putt. Putting uphill allows you to be much more aggressive and allow for less break; simply put, it’s much easier putting uphill than down.
You are almost always better off leaving yourself plenty of green to work with on your approach shots whenever you get the chance. The last thing you want to do is “short side” yourself, leaving you very little green to work with; this is especially critical if a water hazard or bunker is positioned close to where the pin has been cut.
5. Hit Your Putts On The Toe
Ok, so this last tip is somewhat controversial, and I’ll be the first to admit that, but for some golfers learning to hit their downhill puts off the toe of their putter can have a considerable positive impact.
Granted, it’s probably not the best idea for high-handicappers who are already struggling to consistently hit their putts out of the center of the putter. The concept behind hitting your putts off the toe of the putter is that less energy is transferred through the putter and into the ball. This results in a “deadened” putt where the ball travels a shorter distance,
I’ve tried it on several occasions, and each time I have struggled to hit the toe of the putter and get a consistent feel for the putt. A good friend of mine who plays off a handicap of two regularly hits his downhill putts on the toe of the putter, and it seems to work well for him.
Apart from being inconsistent, the other big downside, in my opinion, is that you need to take far more break than you typically would on a flat putt. So while this is a valid tip, understand that it’s not for every golfer. Next time you’re on the practice green, try experimenting with it, though, to see if it is something that might work for you.
Fast Greens FAQs
Are Fast Greens Really That Tough?
It’s not really a question of whether fast greens are that tough; I think it’s more of a question of preference when it comes to how fast golfers like their greens.
Personally, I absolutely love putting on fast greens and don’t find them difficult to putt on at all. I actually have a lot more trouble putting on slower greens. Fast greens are very smooth, and they “roll” much truer than slower greens which tend to be “hairier,” meaning the ball can bump around and even get slightly airborne when striking your putts.
Most of the golf courses that amateur golfers play on keep their greens at about 11 on the stimpmeter, which means they have a moderate speed. Greens on the PGA Tour can run up to 14 on the stimpmeter, which is lightning quick and like putting on glass.
Are Heavy Putters Better For Fast Greens?
Some golfers and coaches believe that using a heavier putter can help you when putting on slick greens, but I’ve never seen any evidence to suggest that. Some golfers swear by this tip, but it really comes down to personal preference when choosing a putter you like.
In actual fact, wouldn’t you think a lighter putter would help you on fast greens instead of a heavier putter? A lighter putter would transfer less energy to the ball resulting in a slower speed. So again, I would take the advice of using a heavier putter for fast greens with a grain of salt.
If you follow the five main tips and strategies outlined in the article, I don’t see any reason you would need to try a differently weighted putter.
Do You Need To Play More Or Less Break?
Do you need to allow for more break on a fast green is really a good question. The answer is simple yet complex at the same time. Yes, you do need to adjust your putting alignment to allow for more break, but it gets tricky when trying to establish “how much” break you need to play.
Different greens run at different speeds, which means that the amount of break you’ll have to play will vary significantly. Generally speaking, the faster the greens are, the more break you’ll have to allow for, and the softer you’ll have to hit your putt. You can take a much more direct line with slower greens and hit your putt much firmer.
Again, it’s a very subjective question, which is why the best way to answer it is by getting in some practice on the putting greens; this way, you can find precisely how much break is best for you.
Are PGA Tour Greens Really That Fast?
The greens on the PGA Tour are some of the fastest you’ll find anywhere in the world. The reason the greens are kept lightning-quick is two-fold.
Firstly, faster greens are cut very tight, and as such, the ball rolls incredibly smooth across the putting surface. Fast greens are less bumpy, and putts hold their lines much longer than on slower greens where the balls can “bobble.” Secondly, PGA Tour players are the best golfer on the planet, so the greens are set up to challenge them to the best of their ability.
Generally, greens on the PGA Tour run between 13 and 14 on the stimpeter, which is pretty fast when you consider most local golf courses set up their greens to run between 10 and 12 on the stimpmeter. However, the greens at the British Open are considerably slower, which is why most US players struggle with their putting.
The 18th Hole
So there you have it. Fast greens don’t need to scare the “you know what” out of you anymore. The strategies outlined in this guide are practical and easy to implement; to be honest, most of the tips are common sense and can start paying big dividends with a little bit of hard work.
Let’s quickly recap the fundamentals for improving your putting on fast greens.
- Imagine the putter grip is a baby bird; Don’t strangle it
- Allow for more break than you would on slower greens
- Get to the course early to warm-up on the practice green
- Leave your approach shots below the cup for uphill putts
- Try hitting off the toe of the putter (not for everyone)
If you follow these five tips, I’m confident you can overcome your fear of putting on fast greens, and instead of dreading the experience, you can start to embrace it.