Golf Industry Central Autumn 2012 - Page 27

Green-reading expert Down Under The putting green is Mark Sweeney’s domain. That’s because Sweeney has worked out why a golf ball breaks in directions the eye can’t see and the mind can’t comprehend. Eight years ago, Sweeney couldn’t fathom why putting was considered such a difficult concept so he developed a green-reading system that allowed him to read even the most subtle breaks. He called his Emmy award-winning greenreading system AimPoint. Now the American, who plays off a handicap of eight, is passing on the knowledge to anyone who will listen. Anyone who has watched the Golf Channel will be familiar with Sweeney’s innovations: the superimposed digital lines that predict how putts are going to break and where the player needs to aim to make the putt. His method of reading greens is so simple and effective that many tour players including Pa- draig Harrington, Scott McCarron, YE Yang, Bo Van Pelt, Michelle Wie, Suzann Pettersen, Stacy Lewis and others have adopted his ideas. A number of teaching professionals around the world have embraced the technology so they can teach their students the art of reading greens. Sweeney developed the technology almost by accident. “It’s so hard to see because the tee box is 200ft higher on your left and the ocean is 300ft lower on your right and you hit the putt and it breaks towards the tee box. “The sense just cannot accept the fact that downhill is towards a high part of the mountain. That’s interesting to me to see really good players mis-read the putt the same way. “I was watching TV and didn’t understand why it (putting) was such a difficult concept,” he said. “So I thought this will be a fun problem to solve,” said Sweeney, who has a background in finance and software technology. “I asked my pro and he said the more you do it the better you get at it, which I thought was an inadequate answer. “I didn’t think it could be rocket science so I started putting the pieces together and got it working pretty quickly – better than expected.” “What fascinated me was seeing players misread the same putt the same way. Sweeney developed the software after watching thousands of simulated putts on real greens. “At Kapalua there’s a putt that for six years in a row everybody has missed it on the left side. There is a great optical illusion where the ball breaks left, but your senses tell you it’s got to break right. “What you realise is golf greens are different, but the putts are very similar,” he said. “They are rolling across the same grade, the same distance and they break very similarly. Golf Industry Central Autumn 2012 25