Improve Your Green Reading with Intuition and Visualization

In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman taught how to use intuition to perform better in anything one can do in life. The number one bestseller explained the thinking processes people use to solve problems

Thinking fast involves your unconscious, intuitive thoughts. It is the gut decision to swing hard that made you miss the hole by several yards. Thinking slow involves your calculating, conscious thoughts. It includes everything you have learned about green reading and all the details you have taken in while reading the green to figure out your line. 

Reading the Green—Fast and Slow 

Kahneman taught that to make your best putt, you need to use both systems. When a fireman leaves a burning building seconds before the structure collapses, they follow their intuition, but that intuition was informed by their slow system. In that split second, they did not consciously process the temperature in the building or thickness of the smoke. With no time to think, their slow system informed their fast system that these conditions were dangerous (informed by past experience). Together, the fast and slow systems decided it was time to get the heck out of there.

How do you apply both your fast and slow system when reading the green without letting your fast system operate like a rebellious child on a goofy golf course? Visualization. Here are some tips on how to visualize the putt before and after your play.

1. Position the Putt

Perform your green reading as normal. While walking towards the hole and assessing the shot from behind the hole, start evaluating the slope, distance, and grain, as well as the angle and speed of your shot. In the process, begin visualizing the line of the ball. Next position yourself on the third apex of a triangle, equidistant from the hole and ball. From this peripheral view, confirm or realign your perspective and assumptions. 

Now assume your putting position. But before swinging, relax your arms back and shoulders and visualize the line of the shot. Imagine the line and speed of the shot as it moves towards the hole. 

2. Evaluate the Putt 

Whether you landed the putt, hit too hard or the ball is a grimacing one-inch from the hole, revisualize the perfectly aligned shot. This information will be filed by your slow thinking system under green reading to help you improve your performance the next time.

For more information, contact local resources that can help you better understand the concept of green reading.