News & Opinion

Putting guru Pelz makes pitch to reveal his ‘secrets’

Done any good reading lately? Like, say, on a green?

Golf instructor Dave Pelz, an acknowledged authority on putting and wedge play, is pretty sure you haven’t. I’m pretty sure he’s right. We had this recent conversation about reading greens:

Pelz: “You’re a good player. Who has ever explained to you how to read a green?”

Me: “Nobody.”

Pelz: “That’s right. There’s not one pro in the world who’s done that.”

Me: “It’s the worst part of my game.”

Pelz: “My theme is, green-reading is better than green-guessing.”

The good news is, Pelz is going to help me. And you. (But mostly me.) The bad news is, you and I (but mostly you) need to pay up front.

Pelz has a new book almost ready to go. He has done a draft of “Dave Pelz’s Secrets of GreenReading.” The problem is, the publishing industry has been disrupted by the digital universe, as has every other sector of the print media. Pelz has written seven books. He’s a name author with a built-in following. But no major publishing house will touch “Secrets of GreenReading” because he wants to deliver it in 3-D with video and animation and graphics and everything but singing squirrels.

“I can’t teach you what to look for and how to read greens in words,” Pelz said. “I’ve got to show you. The publishers want to use black-and-white photos. I said, ‘No, I don’t want to publish this using their outdated model.’ We’ve got all kinds of computer talent where I live in Austin, but it’s going to cost us $212,000 to shoot this and embed it in an e-book.”

Pelz understandably doesn’t want to put $200k at risk. So, he’s turning to us, the underperforming (wasn’t it nice of me not to write “hapless”?) green-readers of the world. He is using to raise money for the project ( He’s got until July 6 to collect the money that he needs.

So far, he’s at only about $62,000. If he doesn’t reach his target, donor-buyers who plunk down $79 (plus $12 for shipping) by pre-ordering will get their money back when his Kickstarter deadline passes. If funding hits the mark, Pelz is confident that he can finish the book by November and have it out before Christmas.

His pitch is that he has “cracked the code” after a decade of studying green-reading data, and Pelz cited his best-known student, Phil Mickelson, as an example. “Phil knows only about half of what we’ve discovered, and this year he’s in the top 10 in the putting stats [putting average and birdie or better conversion percentage],” Pelz said. 

He’s not giving away his proprietary intelligence yet, not even to struggling media types. So, I don’t know his newest green-reading secrets. He says they’re based on physics and green conditions, and they take about the same amount of time as the failed methods that we currently use, such as plumb-bobbing and squatting behind the ball.

“If the book doesn’t fund, it’ll still get done,” Pelz said. “It’ll just take an extra year or two to fund it. I’m not going to not do this book after finding a better way to read greens.”

I like Pelz because he’s a scientist, not a huckster. He doesn’t say things he can’t back up with data. He was the guy who first convinced Tour players that they should have three wedges in their bags instead of two for better scoring, a somewhat controversial idea then that now ranks as conventional wisdom. He built the first 60-degree sand wedge for Tom Kite, who promptly used it to win the 1981 money title. Now, Pelz says the pros should carry four wedges, including a 64-degree, and many players (including Mickelson) do.

Because Pelz is still about $150,000 short of his Kickstarter goal at the halfway mark, he’s looking at the golfing equivalent of a triple-breaking downhill slider into the grain from 70 feet with a strong crosswind. But you’re talking about a guy who once holed a 200-footer at Whistling Straits, the longest televised putt ever made (

I pledged my $79 (plus $12 shipping) the other day. You’re away, people.

Gary Van Sickle has covered golf since 1980 for Sports Illustrated and, Golf World and The Milwaukee Journal.; Twitter: @GaryVanSickle