Using a PuttView green book to solve the most mysterious green I've ever played
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Using a PuttView green book to solve the most mysterious green I’ve ever played

I've been a member at Argyle Country Club in Silver Spring, Md., for nearly 11 years.

In the nearly thousand times I've played golf at Argyle, I've figured out the best way for me to play every hole from tee to green. I know most of the green reads by heart. That doesn't mean Argyle is easy, but it's nice to have a clear game plan.

However, there's one hole that confounds me more than any other, maybe anywhere in golf. It's our eighth hole.

On the surface, it should be pretty simple. From the back tee, the hole is about 375 yards. The fairway moves from right to left, while the initial landing area past the dogleg wants to carom a shot to the right, toward some shorter trees that could block out a player's approach shot. Hit a drive closer to 300 yards, though, and the fairway -- which, at that spot, is hidden from the player's view -- can bring the ball in toward the green with a right-to-left ground draw.

While it took a lot of trial and error to figure out the tee shot, that's not the tricky part of this hole. Rather, it's the green.

The eighth green has three distinct sections on two separate levels. There's the lower level that slopes significantly from the middle of the green to the front. A front pin requires a player to putt from underneath to make a birdie. A middle pin requires precision as the second level of the green runs away from the player to the back on a flatter surface. On the left side of the second level is a spot for difficult pins that run away from the player from the center of the green.

All told, the green's shape and sloping make it difficult for a player to get their ball close. Even if they do, putting on the green is practically guessing. That's why so many Argyle members just shrug their shoulders and tell guests (and each other): "Straight on eight."

Except that's not true. It's demonstrably false. The problem, though, is that the reads are so subtle and confusing, even just a few feet apart, that hitting the ball straight at the hole is the least painful option.

However, I've recently employed a new weapon to figure out how to actually putt the eighth green: PuttView green books.

PuttView makes combination yardage and green books for some 30,000 courses, and they sent me one of Argyle to check out. The accuracy is fantastic, giving golfers a tee-to-green view of every hole with key yardage and slope information to make it easier to understand the course I see all the time -- and also explain some of its quirks.

What's been particularly helpful, though, is the green maps. The green maps -- there are two for each hole -- give the golfer an exact reading of the slope of the green in degrees and a heat map which describes the break with arrows. While I'm not using this in competition, I've been studying the eighth green and a few other tricky putts at Argyle to help me better understand the green.

As it turns out, the studying has paid off. I've made more birdies this season on No. 8 since using PuttView than any other season at Argyle. It also helps me appreciate a green that feels like a true anomaly.

For competitive golfers, PuttView books are a known commodity and a truly useful tool. However, they're also great for recreational players who see the same course or battery of courses. Knowing what the course does from an aerial and ground level no doubt helps golfers play smarter, more informed golf. For the cost of another headcover ($50 or so), a golfer can carry with them the info they need to shoot lower scores. It's absolutely worth it.

About the author


Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]

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