How to read a putt in 4 steps, according to a Top 100 Teacher

Lydia Ko

Lydia Ko reads a putt.

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Learning how to read a putt is an essential skill, but it can be confusing to determine how to best go about it — especially for new players or high handicappers.

Settling on a putting routine can pay dividends in your level of focus and concentration, and feeling relaxed and confident over the ball will ultimately help you hole more putts.

So if you don’t have a green-reading routine incorporated into your putting prep, what should it look like? I asked instructor Tina Tombs for guidance at GOLF’s recent Top 100 Teacher Summit, and she had great advice.

How to read a putt in 4 steps

The first thing you should do as you look at a putt is feel the ground with your feet, Tombs said. The next step is to remove any debris or distractions from your line.

“I like to walk the line of the putt to get a feel for the surface, and any tilts or breaks in the green,” she said. It’s also a good idea to take a look from the other side of the hole so you can get a full-spectrum view of the green’s surface.

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As you walk your line, you can also assess the direction the grass is laying and the speed or firmness of the green.

Finally, Tombs says she likes to envision what the putt would do if she rolled a ball toward the hole with her hand before addressing the ball and making a stroke.

Tombs likes to use the Aimpoint method in her own game, but she said that even players who don’t subscribe to the method can benefit from tuning in to their “feet feels.”

“Eyes don’t tell the whole story,” Tombs said. “You’ve got to get your feet involved. But putting is commitment, so whatever you see or feel first, go with it. Go with your gut.”

So, to summarize, here’s how to approach a putt:

  1. Feel the ground with your feet.
  2. Clear your line of debris.
  3. Walk the line to assess the break on both sides of the hole.
  4. Envision the ball’s roll before address.

Give Tombs’ routine a try, and see what consistency in your routine can do for your game.

For more tips from Tombs, click here.

Need help unriddling the greens at your home course? Pick up a custom Green Book from 8 AM Golf affiliate Golf Logix.


As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on

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