By Mark Harman, USGTF Course Director

Growing up in the Midwest, I played golf exclusively on bentgrass greens that may have had poa annua mixed in. These greens are fairly straightforward with no grain to read.

When I moved to Florida in 1989, it was the first time I had played extensively on Bermudagrass greens. There was this concept of “grain” that I had to learn. Today’s Bermudagrass greens don’t have as much grain effect as in 1989, but there can still be some.

The easiest way to read the grain is to look at the color of the grass. Lighter green means the green is growing away from you while darker green means it’s growing towards you. While putts on bentgrass are slower uphill and faster downhill, the grain on Bermudagrass magnifies this. And when the ball slows down by the hole, the roll of the ball can be especially susceptible to the grain. Another consideration is that on the hole itself, you can see if there appears to be a worn or brown area. That means the grain is growing towards that area. On faster greens, putts will break more than they will on slower greens. That is because the ball is rolling slower on faster greens. In my observation, this is an adjustment that many golfers fail to make.

Different greens make for different teaching approaches. Know your grasses and green speeds and your students will benefit.

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