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Updated on June 12, 2016

READING GREENS The Math by C. J. Decker

2 + 2 = 4 ... 2 x 2 = 4

There is more than one way to play this great game.

1984 - H. A. Templeton came out with his book, Vector Putting.

2000 - Mark Sweeney introduces AimPoint.

2008 - C. J. Decker completed his book, READING GREENS Secrets of The Fall Line.

Both Templeton and Sweeney rely on physics to reveal how the characteristics of the green lead to reading greens. Decker, on the other hand, uses basic geometry and the characteristics of the golf hole to unveil the clues to reading greens.

So, let’s do the same thing different.


TEMPLETON AND SWEENEY both use the characteristics of the green, i.e. grain, drainage and slope, to apply the cause and effects associated with their mathematical theory devised to find an aim point, and thus, the corresponding putting trajectory.

It’s the characteristics of the green that initially, and still does, require the intricate calculations of physics associated with green reading. Take for example Mark Sweeney, who explains in his own words his newest green reading system, AimPoint Express, (the 3:15 mark) where his explanation identifies how physics, in association with the characteristics of the green, were used to verify the evolution of his green reading system for juniors. Fortunately, the actual application of AimPoint Express has left the majority of the math behind.


DECKER has devised a system that utilizes the characteristics of the golf hole, i.e. the grass, the dirt and the cup, to find the fall line at the golf hole which leads directly to a choice of putting trajectories. For all the math associated with Decker’s strategy, there are no factors, no equations and no calculations of any kind. Even on flat greens, he has recently developed a method to determine the slope at the golf hole with your eyes.


This is the difference between understanding and using the characteristics of the green vs. understanding and using the characteristics of the golf hole.


For the past one-hundred years, the golf industry has accepted three constants as how to reading greens and those are grain, drainage and slope, which are the three characteristics of a golf green. Both Vector Putting and AimPoint start with the terrain by feeling for the fall line and then apply that fall line to the golf hole. Their understanding of the characteristics of the green has led them to an effective green reading system, albeit through some very complicated math.

In common terms, it was the long way around. And for all that math, none of it applies to their starting point … the fall line.


Decker’s Secrets of The Fall Line has developed a mathematical skill set to determine the fall line. Each skill is visible to the eye and can be located at the golf hole. The result is any player can start by finding the fall line at the golf hole and then apply their fall line to the terrain. The exact opposite of Vector Putting and AimPoint.

In fact, his method of finding the fall line is so precise you will be able to prove the fall line just by finding the fall line. To complete the process, Decker employs dynamics, which as he explains is the limitation as to how your speed targets the golf hole. Because the math Decker uses is taught in middle school and high school you are not learning anything new, only learning how to apply what you already know.


In physics, speed can be identified as a mathematical factor known as the moment of inertia. In other words, just how hard do you intend to hit your putt?

Math does apply to Vector Putting and AimPoint for the simple reason the player may not choose their own speed. Now, by using the correct speed Vector Putting and AimPoint are highly successful. Factor in the wrong speed and all the math behind Templeton’s and Sweeney’s putting trajectories goes for nought.

Again, this is where Secrets of The Fall Line differs. Decker’s system works with the comfort zone of an individual’s speed, which explains why dynamics is needed. Because a player can choose his or her own speed, they must in turn decide on their own putting trajectory. It’s more precise than it seems considering when you charge your putt you will play less break than if you lag your putt. In either case, charge or lag, Decker has devised a system where both speeds target the golf hole at exactly the same place.


Feel has always been subjective. One player may feel one thing, while another player may feel something else. And it changes where the individual player will not have the same sensitivity from one day to the next. Vector Putting and AimPoint do provide a margin of error within their calculations which helps compensate for the day to day variables a player may experience regarding slope. In the end, Mark Sweeney has developed a very successful green reading system.

C. J. Decker has also developed a successful green reading system by observing features on the green previously ignored. For the first time in golf, a player can use their eyes to see the math associated with the characteristics of the golf hole in order to read greens. In part, the simplicity of his system finally articulates what all the great players couldn’t explain as to how they read greens.

There is one objection to using your eyes and that’s where an architect can trick you with hidden contours. It is true, hidden contours cannot be seen; however, since it is a hidden contour, neither Decker, Sweeney nor anyone else can see it.

Secrets of The Fall Line players rely heavily on the use of their eyes to read greens, and in doing so, they will look right over that hidden contour. As a matter of fact, so do the AimPoint players. The only way an AimPoint player can align their fingers with the golf hole is to look over that hidden contour, thus, making every player vulnerable, no matter which green reading system you use. So, ultimately, there is one thing we all have to accept …there are times Mother Nature wins.

So, which green reading system is better? Only the individual player can make that choice which is no more difficult than choosing between addition or multiplication. They are definitely different and they both work.

So, there really is more than one way to play this great game, even on the greens.


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