So I had a putt that I was sure was going to be my first birdie of the day. I sit there and putt and the ball is off. It’s going and going and eventually heads off the green onto the fringe, not surprisingly right toward the water hazard.
Has that happened to you? Why does it seem that all golf balls break toward water?
Generally, it’s not the water, but gravity that pulls your ball. Even slopes with the smallest angles will inevitably drag objects, especially spherical golf balls, towards the lowest point, which is usually toward a water source.
With that being said, the full answer is a lot more complicated than that. So read on, my fellow golfers, and we’ll get to the bottom of this mystery once and for all.
Why Do Golf Balls Break Towards a Body of Water?
It’s common sense for golfers, especially pros, to look at the overall terrain before teeing off.
Are there mountains to the right? Any lakes nearby?
If the answers are obvious, then the slope direction will be as well.
Yeah, I know it sounds like golf balls are attracted to water, but even water has to follow the laws of physics.
When it rains, slopes towards water will follow gravity and collect at the bottom. The same principle affects our golf balls, too.
Another factor that can affect the path is the grain of the golf green. If the grain of the grass leans right, chances are the shot will break that way as well.
However, even the pros themselves scratch their heads when judging the grain doesn’t guarantee a perfect shot.
It may be due to how modern-day golf courses are manipulated to the point where the original slope isn’t there anymore.
Older courses make it easier for players to spot the natural slope, but newer ones are a bit of a gamble.
Not exactly. The reasoning is that golf balls can develop micro-fractures on their water-proof surfaces after being struck so many times, allowing water to seep in.
And without aerification, golf greens can die out despite regular watering and trimming. So, unfortunately, we’ll all have to deal with pesky terrain altercations in the long run.
Yet this isn’t where the mystery ends. What if I told you that the golfer could be the major reason for putt breaks? It may not be the elephant in the room, but it should be addressed, regardless.
Go on, say it, is my technique terrible?
Generally, a ball will go straight if it’s hit nice and square, making it easier for golfers to predict which way their ball will end up.
A major technique we should consider mastering is how we grip our clubs.
In short, we have to position our hands in such a way that a straight line passes from the shaft through our wrists and into our arms. In this position, we’ll have the control we need to hit the ball just right.
And now, for posture.
A good form of practice is understanding what your neutral spine posture is. This can be done by looking at ourselves in a mirror, or getting a photo of what’s really going on when we position for a hit.
Another big factor when putting is finding the right pace to hit your ball with. Think of holding our arms like a pendulum, with most of the weight at the bottom of the club. Our backswing should equal our forward swing.
Keeping this method consistent will allow us to keep our wrists straight for the entire putt.
That’s important, because any minor movement at the wrists during a swing could result in hitting the ball at an altered angle (as opposed to square), causing the ball to break.
To reach a professional level, we’d need to get familiar with positive putting. This means our forward swing would have to be greater than our backward one.
It might be hard at first, but experts recommend it so highly because more force on the green is observed to do better than not enough.
Once we have the right technique in place, we should get some practicing in.
On average, pro golfers need to put in three to four hours of practice every day, and a lot of that time will be dedicated towards putting. It’s not easy getting that perfect putt, I know.
However, something we also both know is that we are ultimately responsible for how our future shots will pan out.
We both need the right technique and practice to lower our chances of having the ball path breaking.
Do all the swings I make before the green affect the putt I will make?
In a sense. Learning to drive it straight can certainly help. That way, the ball will more than likely land in the area we want it to.
That way, we can line up our future shots in a favorable manner, avoid hazards, and even hit onto more even terrain.
By altering our grip just a bit, such as inching further up the club, we could also hit further if we sacrifice accuracy.
This factor vastly depends on the course being played on, and what kinds of shots we’re willing to take.
For the rest of the way, we’ll need to brush up on what I’d like to call situational awareness. This can come with a number of factors, such as which hazards are nearby and which club works best for the remaining distance to the green.
Also, practicing our swings before hitting the ball will go a long way as well.
Contrary to popular belief, golf balls do not always break toward bodies of water. But gravity pulling your ball down toward a slope’s lowest point. Which usually is in the direction of water.
It’s not easy to putt and sometimes looking for a hack here or there is what we think we need to fix our short game. But honestly, learning to read the green effectively and playing smart and practicing will get you the best results.