Some players prefer fast greens that require delicate, precision touch. Balls above the hole barely need to be tapped to get to the hole. Just find the right line, make a precise stroke and watch the ball drop gently into the cup.
With the development of Ultra Dwarf Bermuda strains, more heat-tolerant types of bent grass, and now, Paspalum, greens are getting faster and faster without the past worries about burnout and disease.
Fortunately for golfers on the Grand Strand, most Myrtle Beach area courses have made the change to either bent grass greens or premium, smooth Bermuda greens that can roll as fast as bent grass surfaces. Paspalum, which can be irrigated with saltwater at a much cheaper cost than metered water, looks like the wave of the future.
But there are still plenty of traditional Bermuda greens on courses throughout the Southeast, and age and conditions of the surface can have a big impact If you’re used to fast, smooth greens, here’s a few tips that should you when confronted by grainier putting surfaces:
Make solid contact: Hit through the ball. Don’t decelerate on the follow through. It’s never good technique, but you can get away with less-than-solid contact on a fast, smooth green. Not so on grainy greens where a solid strike is required to keep the ball online. Otherwise, any little impediment will slow down or alter the path of your putt.
Play less break: As a general rule, putts break less on slower, grainier greens. It’s pretty simple. You have to hit the ball harder on a grainy green. A firmly struck putt has less time to break so it breaks less.
Aim at the back of the cup: On grainy greens, the ball will stop quickly. To make a putt, you have to hit it hard enough to reach the hole – it won’t continue to trickle slowly the way it does on bent grass. Plus, aiming at the back helps ensure that you hit a putt hard enough to keep it online.
Read the grain: If the grass between you and the hole looks lighter or shinier than other grass on the green, the putt is with the grain and will be faster than a putt into darker grass that’s into the grain. Hint: Bermuda usually grows toward the location’s main water source or toward the setting sun. On cross-grain putts, the ball will break more with the grain and less when against the grain.
Putt with confidence: Once you determine how much force you will hit the ball with, stick to it during your putt. An indecisive putt is usually a poor one that comes up short and offline. A well-struck putt should reach the hole. If it gets to the hole, it has a chance to drop into the hole.
Oh, one last bit of advice. Don’t let a few misses get you down. Grainy greens are inconsistent. All won’t be the same speed. Some will be faster. Some will be especially slow. Some will break much less or much more than others. You are going to miss some putts you think should have gone in the cup but don’t get frustrated.
You can’t lose your confidence. Keep hitting putts firmly and confidently on the line you’ve decided to take. Keep the faith and you’ll get some breaks. An offline putt will occasionally hit a rough spot on the green and go in the hole. If you lose your cool and concentration, your round is ruined. Accept that the greens are grainy and adjust. You can rave and complain at the 19th hole.