So we go out to the back of 15 at Webster GC where he says he hasn’t made a putt in 20 years.
This part of the green is clearly crowned to the trained eye but appears very flat as you look at it. Once you “walk the curve” you realize how much terrain variation there really is. Basically, walking the curve is a technique used to use your feet to feel slight variations in slope while walking on the green. The key to it’s success is you have to keep the distance between yourself and hole the same. Once, you turn your feet on, you will be amazed what you feel. It will take some trust in the beginning but you’ll see rather quickly how accurate they are.
I asked him to walk the curve and told him to drop a ball every time he felt himself switch from going uphill to downhill and downhill to uphill. As he’s walking behind the hole he starts dropping balls like his pocket has a hole in it.
I ask him to do it again and he picks up a couple but there are probably 6 balls still on the ground. So I walk around and confirm his results.
Then I show him why you can’t read this part of the green with your eyes. Each time you move over the inflection point(the point when slope changes from up to down or down to up) the direction of the break reverses. I start rolling balls to show him how often the break of the putt completely changed from slightly left to right to slightly right to left. You must know where you are relative to the slope on the green in that area. If left of the ball is higher than right of the ball the ball must got right. It doesn’t matter if you don’t see it. It’s there.
Needless to say, he was blown away. He understood why player’s don’t make putts back there. Many times in the pass, he would watch someone hit a put that broke one way and then a ball a foot to the side of that would break the other way. Because the direction can change multiple times over a very short distance, if you don’t know where you are relative to the inflection point on either side of you, you have no chance.
This is a trait of older courses and greens that may have been ‘hand made’ or push up greens. This is also the reason that greens that appear very flat can be some of the hardest to read with your eyes. They will have lots of little microbreaks because they weren’t machine graded.
Using your feet to find the inflection points will give you a great advantage over the competition.