From The Inbox

Pros’ green-reading skills pay off

A common trait among touring professionals, reader notes, is that they see the proper break and line better than amateur golfers do

I have been fortunate enough to play with tour professionals in benefit golf tournaments. I've noticed firsthand that these pros are really good putters, and they don't grip the putter the same way. Some are left-hand-low, some use the pencil or claw grip and some grip the club the conventional way. But one thing they all have in common is that they know how to read a green (“The hole truth: You don’t putt like a tour pro,” Jan. 6).

In my younger days, I played to a low-single-digit handicap, but I never could read a green as accurately as they do. 

In many of these benefit golf tournaments, the courses we played were sites we never had played before, and that included the professional. All of the amateurs couldn't read the greens like you could at your home course, where you could tell a person how a putt broke if they called you on the phone.

In these benefit tournaments that I've played, the amateurs read the putt first and then the pro read it and gave us his opinion. Most of the time, his read didn't agree with ours, and he was always right. Now remember, he hadn't seen the course, either. And when he putted, if he didn't make it, the ball had a realistic chance to go in.

There is no doubt that the professionals are really good putters, and some are great putters. If they weren't, they wouldn't stay on the PGA Tour very long.

Think about this: If you play great, hit all 18 greens in regulation and have 10-foot putts on every green but you are wrong with your green-reading skills, then you have the same score as the guy who misses the green, chips close and makes the putt.  Having the best putting stroke in the world doesn't mean you are going to make the putt unless you know how to read a green.

Layne Yawn
Jonesboro, Ark.

Pros also excel before they even reach the green
Though I don’t carry an official USGA handicap, I’m a few strokes better than bogey golf most days. I like to think I’m a decent putter. My problems are that I don’t hit enough fairways and greens (“The hole truth: You don’t putt like a tour pro,” Jan. 6).

Of course, the pros are way better than us at all aspects of the game, there is no debate. However, let’s recognize the major advantages that they have when it comes to putting.

One is that they play on pristine greens every week, without fail.

Secondly, they play mostly the same courses year after year, with practice rounds followed by four tournament rounds each time. They know most of the greens like the back of their hand.

Finally, they all have very detailed diagrams of every green on every course they play. With a little experience and homework, they know what a putt is going to do before they get behind it to line it up.

I believe the major difference, other than distance, is consistent ball-striking. They rarely, if ever, miss.

Must be nice.

Gregg Cook
Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Back to normal in northern Virginia
Every course in our area that I’ve played in the past six months has returned to normal ... except one (“Golf in 2021 will look a lot like 2020 version,” Jan. 3).

And I expect Trump National in Potomac Falls, Va., will move to normal in a couple of weeks.

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

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