Does The Speed Of The Green Actually Matter?

I do not know of any golfer who does not comment on the speed of the green during their round of golf. I know over the years I have discussed (actually complained) about the speed of the green from time to time. Looking back, I understand my frustration at the time, but have to remind myself that I have to play the conditions of the day and complaining is a waste of breath. Since I have to play the conditions of the day, I ask again: Does the speed of the green actually matter?

The short answer is a resounding yes! The speed of the greens will make or break a round of golf. Many amateurs are challenged to quickly adjust if the greens are too slow or fast! Depending on your handicap (using this as a benchmark) our ability of adjust to the speed of the green should be more developed. However, that is not always the case. Personally, it takes a few greens to read their speed and slower greens are easier than faster ones. Regardless, it is a skill that every golfer needs to develop to help shoot lower golf scores.

The inspiration for today’s post was rooted in an article from the USGA on the speed of greens. Their article deals with many aspects of maintaining greens, but this excerpt struck home with me:

Putting greens are comprised of living plants that change and perform differently from season to season and even day to day. Temperatures, humidity, rainfall and routine maintenance practices all influence daily green speed. Maintaining the same green speed throughout the year is impossible, and letting a target number dictate management practices is a recipe for damaged greens and undesirable playing conditions.

The USGA hit the nail on the head because we in northern climes experience the challenge of green conditions almost every day. At this time, my home course of Osprey Links are waiting for all the winter damage to fill in. Some years it is worse than others, but it is something that we have to adjust too on a daily basis. Once the greens fill in, Osprey Links has consistent greens that pose a different challenges almost daily. Their greens are one of the reasons I selected this course as my home track.

The speed of the greens actually matter to most players. We can tolerate many things, but inconsistent greens is generally not one. If the course is playing fast (on the greens), they all need to be fast. Because inconsistency just breeds frustration for most players; I know it affects my game for sure.

Speed of the greens creates a domino effect when selecting my line. I will not rehash this ongoing arguement, but if you want to see where I stand, you can read my video at:

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!


4 thoughts on “Does The Speed Of The Green Actually Matter?

  1. I can’t think of a thing that doesn’t matter with putting. Speed of the greens matters because it determines how much turn you get on slopes besides the how hard do I stroke it to get the desired distance question. With putting, line and speed are both required to get the desired clink in the bottom of the cup. There is no real argument for one over the other. You have to combine proper speed with proper line or you miss. If you get one or the other or both wrong and the ball still drops, it was luck. You read it wrong. It couldn’t be any simpler as a thought exercise. If only it were as easy on the course.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin

      I agree that both are important. However, the video shows that using the proper line can have more opportunities to go in. It really is a challenging debate. Regardless, both have importance for sure and the speed of the green is a determining factor.

      Cheers Jim


      • The mathematics involved in the demonstration on that video suggest that speed is somewhat more important than line. I haven’t done the math to see what the actual dispersion was, but with the putting machine at that distance from the targets he used to line up to, you would find that getting the speed right gives you about 4 degrees of leeway to aim your putt. He aimed at the target, then at the tees and made almost everything aimed an 8 inch zone from maybe 10 feet without looking back. Some quick in my head math tells me that’s a 20 foot diameter circle which has around 62 feet of circumference. So about 2 inches per degree. That’s a pretty special putt. You won’t find too many that let you get away with being 4 degree’s off your line and still see the putt go in. Especially if you got the speed correct for the line you chose. A straight putt certainly won’t fall if you miss by that much at 10 feet. That’s why it will always be line first for me. Then, if there’s a break, find the fall off point and make sure I get the ball there with the right speed to finish it’s way to the hole. The speed of the green just tells me how much the slope will effect the ball. And I do find faster greens easier than slower ones. Less movement in the stroke equals more putts in the hole because my dispersion pattern is smaller.


      • Kevin

        Well…wow. All math aside (and it is important) it is amazing how we automatically adjust of many factors without thinking about it. Today, I was off by 1 degree (because I lipped out) on 5 holes. A mediocre round could have been fantastic. This is a great topic and I enjoy the discussions!

        Cheers Jim


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