Thursday, July 12, 2018

Do Slower Greens Favor Better Putting?

I received this question from a Twitter follower:



It's a bit difficult to decipher Fowler's point as the phrase 'good putting' is not defined by him. My guess is that he believes that the more skilled putters (we'll say that 'more skilled' are the players that finish near the top in Strokes Gained - Putting) tend to out-putt the rest of the field on slower greens.

In that case, it depends on a few factors.

If you were to take the same course and change the stimps, typically the faster stimps favor better putting. The better putters on Tour tend to gain more of an advantage on putts that break more and going from a 9 stimp to a 13 stimp on the same course will mean the putts will have more break.

But, there are a lot of other factors to be considered.



Faster greens, be it for Tour pros or amateurs, tend to have a higher make % from inside 20-feet. Faster greens tend to be smoother and thus the make % increases. There’s probably something to be said for having to hit a putt softer and taking a shorter stroke as well. But faster greens also tend to have a higher 3-putt percentage. It’s close to being all or nothing, either make the putt or end up with a longer following putt and increasing your probability of 3-putting.

Having said that, the slower greens, particularly on Tour, tend to be on courses designed prior to 1980 with little or no renovations to the greens. Architects from that era makes greens nearly half the size of modern design greens. Thus, 3-putt probabilities are more likely to be lower due to the likelihood of having a much shorter first putt on average. These architects also favored more undulated green contours and thus the greens could not sustain fast stimps.



In a case like Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines, both courses with very low make percentages that the best putters tend to gain the biggest advantage on the greens…they have slow greens, but with some of the most undulated green contours on Tour.

But, if those greens were to play at a faster stimp they would inevitably give good putters a stronger advantage. Thus, it’s really about the size of the break which is a combination of stimp and % of slope. Slow flat greens will not favor good putters more than fast flat greens much less fast, undulated greens.

From my examination of Tour players and their performance on types of breaking putts, almost everybody on Tour can putt well on straight putts or near straight, but uphill putts. What separates the best putters on Tour from the rest is that they can make a higher and near equal percentage of left-to-right versus left-to-right breaking putts. The rest of the Tour is filled with putters that do not putt nearly as well at both types of breaking putts.

Noticing that the best putters on Tour tend to putt both types of breaking putts better and don’t have a bias between the two is like noticing that NBA players tend to be tall.




3JACK

2 comments:

Unknown said...

So many thanks for your answer and all they time.

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