See the lines
If you’re bad at reading greens, try this legendary putter's clever 'line' trick
Eight-time PGA Tour winner Brad Faxon has made a lot of putts over the course of his career. Now in retirement, he’s helping golfers make more themselves. Faxon is a putting instructor at Jupiter Hills Club, and is often sought out by PGA Tour players for putting advice—most notably Rory McIlroy, a student of Faxon’s since 2018.
"Last year was the first time ever I finished in the top-20 on TOUR in Strokes Gained: Putting and definitely a big part of it and the work that I've done with Faxon and with [Bob}Rotella," Rory said after his CJ Cup win.
For the rest of us, Faxon’s Instagram account is a prime resource for putting tips from one of golf’s best-ever to grace the greens. Last week, Faxon shared some interesting advice from his early days in golf: When he was a caddie, learning how to read greens for his players, he’d take note to watch them warm up on the practice putting green before their round and carefully monitor the lines their ball makes as it rolls along a dewy green.
The way to use dew lines on greens is really simple: Just simply hit a putt at a hole, and examine the trail it leaves behind. Obviously, doing this means you’ll need an early morning tee time, but even just a few reps on a dewy surface occasionally can provide some great feedback that will improve your putting quickly, and help you hole more of them along the way.
Here are two of the biggest things it can help with, according to Faxon.
It helps you understand the break-speed relationship
One of the trickiest things about reading greens is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. How you read a putt is dependent on the speed at which you hit your putt. A putt hit firmer will break less than a putt hit softer, which will break more. It’s matching the two together that will help you actually make the putt in front of you.
Examining the dew line can help you understand this cause-and-effect relationship — and use it to your advantage.
“I’d often practice hitting the same putt at different speeds: Slow, medium, fast,” Faxon told me at the PGA Championship earlier this year. “It gets more flow into your stroke, and allows you to putt with more freedom.”
It helps you visualize the entire line
Once you’ve used the dew lines visual to dial in the speed-break relationship your more comfortable with, you can use those same dew lines to improve your visualization on the greens. Seeing the entire path your putt takes to the hole is an essential part of good putting. The dew line is a literal representation of how this should look in your mind’s eye, so remember the visual, and before each putt you hit on the course, visualize the dew line your ball will leave behind as it tracks into the hole.
“That’s the image I see every time I putt,” Faxon says in the video below. “Use it to see if you can find your line and make more putts.”