This is the time of the year when most greens have come into great summer time condition. You may have noticed in the last few weeks that the greens have gotten smooth and fast. In the Spring the greens get aerated and top dressed with sand. They are bumpy and slow. Once the greens healed from the aeration they may have still been slow as the poa annua grass was sprouting every afternoon. AS the heat of summer approaches the poa will go dormant and the greens become fun! To be successful you will have to adjust to the changing green speeds.
Below are two tips that will help you adjust to slow or fast greens. First I want all to understand that the terms “fast green” and “slow greens” can be confusing. On fast greens, you will want to have a slow velocity putter at impact to produce a ball that rolls slowly. On slow greens you will want to create a relatively higher putter velocity to get a ball to roll faster. Go ahead and read that last bit again. You understand it, although it sounds odd.
A great way for most players to generate more velocity to the ball is to put the brakes on the putter right after impact. It seems like the opposite effect would occur but letting the putter crash into the ball and then stopping the putter 8 or 10 inches after impact will actually cause more energy to be transferred into the ball. This is converse to what I see a lot of people doing with a short backswing and a huge follow through. In this case the golfer will struggle to consistently get enough energy into the ball and on slow greens will forever struggle to get the ball to the hole.
On fast greens you will have to slow the putter down. Making a smooth stroke at a slow speed can be challenging. An easy way to make this happen would be to reduce the tension in your grip and even take the thumbs off the putter entirely. Try it! When your thumbs are off the putter it is much easier to let the putter simply swing back and forth and your hands will not have the chance to accelerate the putter.
Whoa! “George has been out in the sun too long!” Many golfers think I’ve lost my mind when I tell them that they do not have to accelerate the putter. The common perception is that if the golfer does not provide acceleration to the putter then the putter will be decelerating. Every golfer has been told over and over again that at all costs they cannot decelerate the putter. Decelerating the putter is decreasing the velocity of the putter. A putter that is allowed to swing towards the ball will accelerate because it is swinging. Therefore, you do not have to provide acceleration. Rather, you need to get out of the way and let the putter do it’s thing. Your job is to provide a long enough backswing and an appropriate rhythm for the putt at hand, not to determine manually the rate of acceleration.