Friday, July 8, 2011

Note to USWO Announcers: Putts Don't Break Uphill

The U.S. Women's Open is being played at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., nestled right up against the Rockies. And there are plenty of peaks right next to the golf course.

And you know what they say about golf courses right next to a mountain: Putts break toward the mountain. But is it true?

Well, sure, it could be true - if the contours of the part of the green your ball is rolling on take the ball toward the mountain.

During ESPN2's second-round broadcast, the broadcast team of Terry Gannon, Judy Rankin and Dottie Pepper discussed the breaks-toward-the-mountain axiom, and endorsed it. Rankin even said that she's seen putts break uphill because of the "pull" of the mountain.

That's 100-percent, Grade A nonsense. Putts do not break uphill, ever, mountain or no mountain. There's no mysterious or magical "pull" involved in putting - not from the Rocky Mountains, not from the city of Indio (the so-called Indio effect at the Kraft Nabisco), not from Rae's Creek at Augusta National, not from any other object.

The thing that determines the direction a ball breaks on a putting green is the surface of the green, and how that surface is shaped.

Now, it's certainly true that most of the putts on a given course can break in the direction of some off-course landmark, but if they do it's only because that's the way the greens are contoured. In a case like that, knowing where that landmark is in relation to the hole you are putting at can help you read the greens. That's local knowledge. If, in fact, most of the holes on The Broadmoor's greens are in locations whose contours cause putts to break toward the mountains, then that is great local knowledge to have.

But it has nothing to do with any magical "pull" of the mountains, and no putt in the history of golf has ever broken uphill.

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