Indianapolis golf courses aren’t necessarily known for hilly terrain, but that doesn’t mean the architects at local courses such as Saddlebrook Golf Course and Valle Vista Golf Club haven’t had fun dreaming up wild undulations and steep pitches to keep golfers guessing on the greens. Moreover, every course has its own distinct putting-surface characteristics, with grass cuts that range from smooth-as-marble to hairy and unpredictable. Bottom line, reading a green is an art form. It might take a stroke—or five—before it’s time to break out the putter, but the time to start reading a green isn’t when you’re already on the short stuff, but when you’re on the tee. Read on to learn the hidden language of each hole’s final obstacle. Heed the landscape Even if the pin is still a dimly glimpsed goal, the lay of the land can reveal a lot about how the green behaves. If there’s water nearby, the green will most likely slope toward it—though not always. You won’t have to worry about that at the popular IU Golf Course in Bloomington—the 18-hole championship course has no water hazards. Know the grass Most greens are one of two types of grass—bermuda or bent. The latter offers little resistance, but the former has a grain that can drastically affect the ball’s path. Pay attention to the angle at which bermuda grass appears lighter—the ball will likely break in that direction. When in doubt about which direction the grain faces, consider that grass typically grows toward the setting sun. Weather can alter a green A ball will travel much straighter on a soft, wet green than a dry green with firm grass. Indiana golf courses get their share of rain in spring, so it’s smart to assess the dew factor before you putt. Likewise, grass tends to grow more in the afternoon, so the ball will break more drastically at 3 p.m. than in the relative calm of dawn, when earthworms still haven’t delivered the grass its coffee. Shoot with confidence Once you’ve taken in all the information—be sure to look at the green from all angles—decide on your shot and don’t look back. Even a miscalculated shot made with confidence will likely be better than a tentative effort. If you do miss, keep paying attention to the ball—as it passes the hole, it just might whisper what went wrong.
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