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How To Putt On Wet Greens

Updated on October 17, 2014

Minimize the disturbing effects of water on your golf putting

Golf putting is critical if you aspire to get good scores. Putting on wet greens requires some adjustments in order to avoid unnecessary extra-putts. See here what to do to be effective when you face this kind of problem.

Going straight to the point

This is a bit too much to play golf . . .
This is a bit too much to play golf . . .

Golf putts, when the green is wet, are slower than when it is not. It's common sense. Some of us also know that they break less. If this is enough to you, don't waste your time reading the rest of this article. If you would like to discover something better than this qualitative approach keep reading and I'll try not to disappoint you and provide some insightful tips to improve your golf putting.

The basics

Let's start with an example. You were on that green, that is flat and level, facing a putt 5 yds long. Your feel on the green is well known among your golf buddies. You read the putt, made the required adjustments, took your stance, hit the ball and, as usual, it died just in the hole.

. . .

Now, you are on the same green facing exactly the same putt but it's a rainy day and the green is really wet. You know that under these circumstances the green is very slow and you take the decision to double the stroke intensity. This made the ball speed at start double compared with the previous scenario and the result was wonderful. It started moving very fast but friction was greater this time and it ended again dying just in the hole.

The only difference was noticed by one of your buddies that measured time spent by the ball in both putts. On the wet green, with double speed at start, the time to reach the hole was reduced by half.

Was this information, gathered by your meticulous buddy, important in this case? NO! But we'll need to revert to this subject later because if it were a breaking putt this detail would make all the difference.

A) Putting on wet greens that are flat and level.

In this situation you have straight putts and you just need to discover how much will the water, on the green's surface, slow your putts. You can estimate it as a percentage. Let's see an example: You have a 10 ft putt and during your testing you found that you have to hit the ball as if it was a 12 ft putt. This roughly means that the water is slowing the putts by 20% (or that you have to hit the ball 20% harder). This can be made easily by moving, "in your head", the hole 2 ft back. (20% of 10 ft are 2 ft)

Of course this is not exact science but my motto is: it's better to have a rough estimate than not having any estimate at all.

You can think of slowing factors of 30, 40, 50% or even 100%, as in our first example. The technique is simple: address the ball, look to the hole, move it back in your mind by the desired amount, forget the rest and putt to that new target. You'll discover that your brain adapts quickly and works wonders in these situations.

B) Let's see what happens with breaking putts on sloping wet greens.

The situation is really very different and it's easy to see why. Just remember our first example and the insightful remark of that guy that noticed that the ball, on the wet green, had to be hit twice as hard as in the normal green but only took half the time to reach the hole. To understand why this detail changes the entire situation let's check the next video I produced and that is also available in my site www.puttinglines.com

Golf Putting Lines Video

Now you know that when a ball moves on a sloping green there are 3 forces that influence ball's behavior:

a) Forward momentum, produced by the putter stroke, that makes the ball move forward

b) Friction, mainly a result of the contact between the ball and the grass, that continuously slows the ball till it stops.

c) Gravity, which pulls the ball downwards and only depends on the ball weight and green slope.

The conclusion is simple: if gravity pulls the ball downwards and, in this example, it only works half the normal time period, the ball must break less than in normal circumstances. How much less is what remains to be seen. Beware of fast conclusions!

This alert must be made because it would be tempting to say that if it works half the normal time period it would also break only one half. Wrong! Why? Because when gravity pulls an object downwards it produces an accelerated movement not a uniform one. This causes the reduction of the break to be much more drastic than expected. In our example it was reduced to just one quarter of normal break.

But you don't have to worry because I did all the math needed to give a few guidelines that are easy to keep in memory and ready to be used if needed.

Here they are:

If you have to hit the ball 20% harder the break will be only 2/3 of the normal break

If you have to hit the ball 40% harder the break will be only 1/2 of the normal break

If you have to hit the ball 100% harder the break will be only 1/4 of the normal break

Or, in other words:

"Move the hole" 20% back and consider only 2/3 (67%) of the normal break

"Move the hole" 40% back and consider only 1/2 (50%) of the normal break

"Move the hole" 100% back (double the distance) and consider only 1/4 (25%) of the normal break

Perhaps there's one question crossing your mind: How to measure break in order to use these concepts?

First consider the free fall line, the direction the water would take if you poured a lot of it in the hole till it overflows. Break, in this case, must be measured over that line and above the hole. See the pictures for the 2nd and 3rd situations:

"Moving" the hole 40% back

In this image we draw the line of the normal putt and then imagined that the hole was 40% behind its real position (consider only one half of normal break). The new line would break less. That's why the distance of the new aim point to the hole is only one half of that distance for putts under normal conditions.

"Moving" the hole 100% back

In this image we also draw the line of the normal putt and then imagined that the hole was 100% behind its real position (consider only one quarter of normal break). The new line would break much less. That's why the distance of the new aim point to the hole is only one quarter of that distance for putts under normal conditions.

Note: If you want to learn more about breaking putts and putting on the slope, go to Golf Putting Lines.

Final note

While I was reviewing this article, TV was showing day 1 of the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. After the first groups had already finished there was weather change and the rain started falling. Not heavy rain but enough to disturb. And I could notice that there was a lot of breaking putts missed on the upper side. I attributed that to the wet greens breaking less because, even for professionals, it is more common to miss on the lower side.

I'm the author of Golf Putting Lines Ebook

The only ebook about how to deal with breaking putts!

What do you think?

We all know that "Singin' In The Rain" can be really fun. But never, ever in my entire life, have I seen a happy golfer singing and dancing on a rainy day.

Do you think that playing golf on a rainy day can be fun?

See results

> The Pictures in this Lens were downloaded from Stock.XCHNG

> I am the owner of the 2 Images and the video.

Go to Amazon and . . . find a way to improve your golf putting

Putting My Way: A Lifetime's Worth of Tips from Golf's All-Time Greatest
Putting My Way: A Lifetime's Worth of Tips from Golf's All-Time Greatest

If this man can't teach us anything about golf putting, who else can?

 

Reader's Feedback. Hi! You are welcome here. Any comments, suggestions, doubts, criticism, etc, will be appreciated.

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    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 4 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Nicely done but I leave the course the first sign of rain-I am a fair weather golfer! :>)

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