Rory McIlroy’s Tips for Reading a Green

Learn how the professional golfer judges how a ball will break on the green with these golf tips.

The short game in golf can make or break your round. Once you are on the green, every detail matters as you try and sink the putt.

To get a better lay of the land, it can be beneficial to know how to read a green. Straight putts won’t always be an option. Instead, you’ll need to be able to estimate how much the path of the ball will curve due to the contours of a putting green.

Professional golfer Rory McIlroy shares his tips to successfully judge how a ball will break on the green.


First, McIlroy likes to have a general idea of where the putt is going to go. It can be helpful to take a few steps back while staying in line with the ball and looking at the green. He takes time to get an idea of any slopes on the green and the distance from the cup.

“I like to have a general idea of what the putt is going to do before I start my read,” McIlroy says. “It’s a rough guide of what it is going to do. And then you sort of dial it in from there.”

McIlroy focuses on the slope of the green. He visualizes aiming to the middle of the hole. If the green slopes to the left or right, he will estimate how far the ball would miss the hole if he aims directly at the cup.

“What I’ll try to do is pick an intermediate target so I can aim at that,” he says.

The difference between a good round and a great round can come down to your short game. Knowing how to read the green can help make every trip near the cup feel like a tap-in.

Looking for more Pro Tips with McIlroy? Check out his advice on how to improve your drives. Plus, learn how McIlroy handles taking on a par 3 compared to a par 4 or 5.

Don’t go to the green ill-prepared. Check out the Pro Tips guide on buying a putter to find the right club for your short game. Need more putting work? Try the Karate Putting Drill to help improve your control on the green.