If you watch golf, you may have noticed Adam Scott, Stacy Lewis, and many more professionals reading greens in a way we’ve never seen before. Turns out, the Aimpoint Express green reading system is becoming wildly popular on tour, and spreading to the ranks of many amateur golfers as well. If you struggle reading greens, Aimpoint Express might be the system that drastically improves the way you putt!
I learned the system about one year ago, about the same time that I learned that I was a non-linear putter. If you haven’t read my post on “linear vs. non-linear putters,” I suggest that you do so now, because this post assumes you have a basic understanding of this topic.
Anyways, I noticed several of my buddies using the system, and was eager to join the fun. I took a short course from a certified Aimpoint Express instructor whom I knew pretty well already, and immediately started practicing. Before my lesson, I had no clue what this craze was all about!
The truth is, green reading is hard! We’ve all been tricked by those subtle breaks every once in a while, and have wished there was a way to overcome this. With Aimpoint Express, no matter who you are, you will be able to correctly read greens with a sufficient amount of practice. I love the system because it finally allows the average golfer to read greens like the pros, without years and years of experience!
Before diving in to the technicalities, let’s take a look at the benefits of the Aimpoint Express System:
- Aimpoint Express takes the guesswork out of green reading, and creates an environment of objectivity– I think the number one reason that golfer’s miss putts is due to a lack of trust in their reads. It is much better to commit to the wrong line and make a confident stroke than hit a timid putt with the right line. The reason I like Aimpoint Express is because it helps you feel confident about your read, and commit to it more often. Like anything, human error plays a role in the success/failure of using the system, but it is the closest thing we’ve got to perfection when it comes to green reading.
- More effective practice– As I talk a lot about in The Weekend Warrior’s Practice Manual, practicing effectively is one of the biggest keys to a solid golf game. Above the benefit of having Aimpoint Express on the course, I actually prefer it in practice. When you’re on the putting green, there is nobody stopping you from using the digital level that I will be talking about later in this post. If you’re using the level, there is no reason that you should read any putt incorrectly. Knowing that you’ve read a putt perfectly on the practice green helps increase the effectiveness of your practice. Rather than aiming at the wrong target and compensating with a faulty stroke to make the putt, your practice sessions will be spent aiming at the correct target. This trains your brain to see the breaks more accurately on the course, and eliminates the amount of compensation that has to go on during the stroke.
- Aimpoint Express is a tour proven green reading method -I’m a big proponent of learning things from the people that are achieving the results you want to achieve, so naturally, I was pleased to hear that Aimpoint Express is popular on the professional golf tours. If the best golfers in the world are using this method, it is surely an effective green reading system for those who do choose to practice it and use it. When Adam Scott won the 2013 Masters with this green reading system, I was sold!
- Aimpoint Express improves your aim, and your stroke – This is a side effect of using Aimpoint Express that most golfers may not realize. If you’ve ever taken a class in economics, you might be familiar with the “law of unintended consequences.” As a result of reading the greens correctly more often, you will naturally aim the putter better, and start the ball on your intended line more frequently. Most golfers don’t aim where they think they’re aiming, and most golfers also don’t read enough break in their putts. Dave Pelz proved this in his Putting Bible. If you’re not reading the greens or aiming correctly, the only way to make a putt is to compensate in your stroke. If you use Aimpoint Express, and read the greens correctly, you will begin to escape these compensations that cause day to day putting struggles!
So how does Aimpoint Express Work?
Due to legal issues, I am not authorized to explain the system end to end in detail, but I hope that the following overview provides you with a general understanding of it. I’ll start with a brief overview of the system, and then dive a little deeper into the individual parts.
Aimpoint Express revolves around reading greens with your feet. You go to the mid-point of the putt, feel a certain percentage slope with your feet, and then based on this percentage (say 1%), you use a different number of fingers to read the green. You line your finger(s) up with the middle of the cup as shown in the photo below, and there is your aiming point!
Slope percentage and reading with the feet
I wanted to start with this detail, because it requires the most practice. With the Aimpoint Express system, the goal is to be able to recognize what different “percentage slopes” feel like. It is recommended that you use a Digital Level, and click the “tilt percent” button to check yourself.
I use the level to find 6 spots on the putting green with the following slopes: 0.5%, 1%, 1.5%, 2%, 2.5%, and 3 %
Once I have found these slopes, I rotate randomly between them, trying to train my brain to identify each of them.
After I’ve done this for a few minutes, I’ll walk around the green, and use a “guess and check” method for determining the slope. I first guess what I think the slope of the green that I’m standing on is, and then I’ll check it with the digital level. Using this guess and check method helps me get an idea of what different percentage slopes feel like.
When reading the slope with your feet, you should stand with your feet about shoulder width apart.
Where do I read the putt from?
Although there are a few exceptions (5 feet and in, double breaking putts, etc.), the general rule for Aimpoint Express is to find the middle of the putt, and stand on the low side of the putt (the side to which the putt is breaking towards). So if the putt is a 15 foot right to left breaking putt, you would walk to 7.5 feet from the hole on the left side of your line.
How do I read the putt?
So you’ve practiced feeling different percentage slopes, and you are standing at the midpoint of a 15 foot right to left breaking putt. What next?
After you’ve determined what you think the slope is at the midpoint of the putt, you’ll go back to the ball, and read the putt.
Say that you’ve determined that the slope of the putt is about 1%. You would line the left side of your pointer finger up with the middle of the hole, and your aimpoint would be the red dot shown in the picture below:
But where do I stand when I’m using my fingers to read the putt?
This is the tricky part of the Aimpoint Express system, and if you’re someone who needs to know exactly how to do things, I would suggest taking an Aimpoint Express seminar somewhere in your local area, or purchase Aimpoint Golf’s DVD course here.
In a nutshell, before you will be able to read the green effectively, you have to determine the speed of the green, and calibrate accordingly.
There are two ways to calibrate with Aimpoint Express:
- The first way is to straddle the ball, and adjust the distance of your hand from your body for different green speeds. If the green your are putting on is rolling slowly, you will have your arm much further from your body than on a fast green.
- The second way to read a putt is by adjusting the distance that you stand behind the ball according to the green speed, and keep your arm distance constant.
In both scenarios, you have one constant factor. It is up to you to determine which method works best for you.
How do I find the speed of the green and practice my calibration?
This is where taking an Aimpoint Express course would be a major advantage, because the instructor will personally help you find the green speed, and learn all of the calibration rules.
Due to legal issues, I will stay away from getting into great detail about calibration, but I will say that the key to finding the green speed is trial and error. Whenever you go to a new course, you’ll have to spend 15 minutes with your digital level experimenting with either the distance of your arm (if you are straddling the ball when reading putts), or the distance you stand behind the ball (if you are keeping your arm distance constant). Once you start reading the putts correctly, you’ll know that you’ve achieved an accurate calibration.
Like I said, this part of the system is very personal, and I would recommend taking a lesson from a certified instructor. It can be done with experimentation, but will be far less accurate.
I find it easiest to sum up the Aimpoint Express system with a real life scenario:
Imagine that you are playing a round of golf with some buddies at a brand new course…
Here’s how you would use Aimpoint Express to beat them 🙂
Step 1: Go to the putting green, and use your digital level to calibrate either your arm length, or distance you stand behind the ball when reading putts. I find it is easiest to do this by picking a 10-15 foot putt, and practice reading that putt until you can consistently get the correct read on it.
Step 2: Once you’re calibrated, it is time to warm up and play! So you’re on the first hole, and you’ve hit a nice shot in to 15 feet. It is a pretty severe left to right breaking putt. You find the midpoint of the putt, and guess that it is about a 3.5% slope with your feet.
Step 3: Stand over the ball or behind the ball (depending on the method of calibration you’re using), and line four fingers up with the center of the cup (as shown in the pictures previously in this post). Once you’ve found the aimpoint, subtract a little bit, because you’ve used 4 fingers, but the actual slope is a little less than this (3.5%).
Step 4: Go through your routine, and do whatever you have to do (lining the ball up to your aiming spot, picking an intermediate target, etc.) to start the ball on the line that you picked while reading the putt.
Step 5: Be confident in your read, and enjoy birdieing the first hole!
I hope this post has been helpful in explaining the Aimpoint Express green reading system. If you think the system is something that would help your game, here is a link to find an Aimpoint Express clinic near you, and here is a link to purchase Aimpoint’s official Aimpoint Express instructional DVD. If you’re serious about using the system properly, I couldn’t recommend one of these two options more!