Golf

Learn to read greens with your feet using this nifty training aid

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Welcome to Play Smart, a regular GOLF.com game-improvement column that will help you play smarter, better golf.
Being a good green reader is one of the most valuable (and underrated) skills a golfer can have. Without it, you’re just throwing darts in the dark on the greens.
Everyone has their own method for determining which way a putt will break, but almost everyone starts by just using their eyes. The problem is, sometimes your eyes lie to you. A putt might look like it’s going to do one thing, but in reality it’ll do the exact opposite. When your eyes (and the course) begin to play tricks on you, it’s important to have a plan B.
That’s where using your feet to read greens comes into play. To help train yourself to use your feet to measure slope with your feet, WhyGolf has developed a nifty new training aid called the Slope Plate, which is included in their Green Reading System.
The first step in reading a green with your feet comes from determining the grade of slope on the putting surface. You simply straddle your line and feel the grade of the slope under your feet, determining the grade to decide how much the putt will break. For example, a putt that gently slopes might be a 1% grade, while one that moves a good bit will be 4%. It all depends on the severity of the slope.
Training your feet to identify the grade of slope can be tough, but with the Slope Plate, things become a little bit easier. All you need to do is find a flat surface and place the training aid on the ground. Then, stand on top of it.
On either side of the training aid, there is a slope that becomes more severe as you move toward the edges. While you’re standing on it, you can look down between your feet to see what grade slope you are feeling with your feet. Then, when it’s time to play your actual round, your training will help you find the slope with your feet.
“Basically, you’re just teaching your feet how to feel slope,” says WhyGolf ambassador Brad Ott.
Once on the course, and after you have the slope of the putt determined, you now use the Green Cards provided in the Green Reading System to see how much your putt will break. All you need to do is find out the speed of the green, determine the slope of your putt and then look at your card, which will show you how many inches the putt will break.
“These cards are designed to tell you where to aim,” Ott says.
If you’ve got the correct slope and speed of the green, and you hit your putt on the correct line as determined by the Green Cards, your putt should track right into the hole. Watch the video at the top of this post to learn more.

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.
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