Really, all you need is a good eye and a keen imagination to read a green. It’s helpful to learn how to pick out places where the ball would stray from a straight path so you can determine the best way to take a shot.
When there are breaks in the green on your ball’s path, it can be difficult for golfers to predict just how their ball will move.
You need to gain the ability to see tilts in the landscape and imagine how your ball will react to them. Does the green go uphill? Downhill? Left or right? These are called “breaks.” But rather than looking for them, it’s best to imagine what the ball will do if you roll it straight to the cup.
If you send the ball dead straight, where would it curve?
During real play, you’d have to use this imagery as a guide, but while you’re developing this skill, you can test it out. Do so by rolling a ball straight ahead of you and watching its path. And then you want to try to putt the ball in the opposing direction, to counteract those breaks. Do this and you should notice the ball moving increasingly closer to the hole.
Do keep in mind that, even on the same hole, you’ll have to re-imagine the course every time you putt the ball. The breaks in the green will change on different sides of the hole, requiring a different shot.
Understanding where you are on the green is key to learning and executing this exercise. This is a simple way to think about big curves. It has a lot to do with feeling.