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Putting Green Grain
By John Duval

1. As if putting wasn't hard enough already, anyone who plays golf has to contend with putting against the grain and putting across the grain. The putting green grassSee our different types of grasses especially grass suitable for a putting green grain generally follows either the direction in which water drains off the putting green, or it grows towards the setting sun or a water source. On severe slopes it will grow towards the drainage path. The shiny/dark rule works also when looking at the grass on a golf course. Take a look at a putt standing both behind the ball and behind the hole. If the grass on the green looks "shiny" or is a lighter shade than the grass in the other direction, it means you are down grain and the putt will tend be faster and roll out a bit more. When the grass is growing away from you it reflects the light at a different angle than when it's growing towards you, that's why it looks different. If you see no change in color, take a look from either side, as you may have a cross grain putt. Cross grain putts are even more frustrating, because even if the slope of the putting green indicates that a putt will break slightly from left to right, the grain may hold it. Conversely, a right to left putt with right to left grain might break quite a bit more that it appears.

2. To help you learn the grain on putting greens, take your putter and drag it along the putting green in each direction. When it starts to hop and the grass pops up, you are going against the grain. Keep in mind, that doing this is against the rules! Do this only in a practice round or better yet, on the practice green!

3. Another way you can combat the grain on a putting greencreating a putting green lawn, making a backyard putting green, converting part of your lawn into a putting green, especially on shorter putts, is to roll your ball with more speed. This is good practice for all putting greens, regardless of grain. The theory behind that is that the faster the ball is rolling, the more it skims the tops of the grass blades on the surface. As the ball slows down, gravity takes over and the ball settles slightly lower into the grass and the direction in which it grows is more likely to influence the ball's direction. Therefore, on the shorter putts especially, roll the ball with more speed and reduce the amount of break you play to counteract the effect of grain. Most pros and scratch golfers do this anyway since they have putting strokes that consistently roll the ball on target. This allows players to eliminate most or all of the break on shorter putts of 5 feet or less and aim right at the hole. You see the pros do this on television all the time, that's why the ball rolls 2 or 3 feet by when they occasionally miss a short one.

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