Golf conversations come up a lot with my job. And as happens to all golf discussions is the “what kind of game do you have” or “what do you shoot” questions get asked. Are you honest in assessing your game now that we’re in the off-season? What worked and what held you back?
I’ve gone over my stats for the season (search posts for the Stats entry) and know where my biggest weakness is: Putting and my short game. So many golfers I talk to will say, “I need to hit it farther off the tee.” Or, “I’m looking at new drivers, irons” etc. I never once hear them say, “I’m going to dedicate more time to my putting and short game”.
Rory McIlroy averaged 1.738 putts per hole in 2012. Luke Donald tweeted up sick numbers, too. How about making 90.2% of his putts from inside 10 feet? That includes 484/485 from inside 3 feet.
PGA Tour Stats. Way cool!
Higher handicap players (let’s say shooting scores in the 90+range) consistently state that they three putt at least 3-5 times PER ROUND, if not more. Folks, that’s not real good…..and so avoidable with a little practice. But you may need to change your thinking a little bit if you fall into this category, because your peers also say that while their putting isn’t great, they need to hit the ball longer. Sometimes, I just don’t understand “golf think”.
Think about it: If you average 95 strokes per round, and you average 40 putts per round…..well, do the math. Gain some strokes in your putting category and you’re into the 80’s easily, feeling better about your game and whomping up on your buddies, taking their cash in the weekend Nassau. So, what can you do to get better?
Review your season and think in general terms of your three putts. I’m thinking that most were caused by speed issues s opposed to horrific aiming problems, right? How often do you have the 8′ slider for par only to blow it 6′ by and miss that one for double? Do that 3-4 more times during the round….
If it’s a pace problem, I have to drills for you. Do them at home or at your course if you have the opportunity. These two are good confidence boosters, too. Putting is SO mental…
1: Putt to the Fringe
– Put a couple of balls down in the middle of your practice green and roll putts to the fringe, seeing how close to stopping the ball on the fringe cut. Work the compass directions around the green to feel slope and break. Doing this gives you an idea of what you’re doing to roll the ball to the fringe speed-wise (length of stroke) while also giving you tons of feedback in that elusive “feel” zone. Best of all, you take the hole out of the equation. I’ve always found by doing that, you move the focus to “feeling” as opposed to being result oriented, feeling like you have to “make it”.
2: Putt Looking at Hole OR Putt with Eyes Closed
– Putting is feel plus confidence. When the confidence goes away, you end up putting defensively or scared, just “trying” not to three putt. This drill builds feel AND confidence. Free your brain up and move outside your putting box for a few minutes.
I like to do this from 5′, 10′ and 20′. I’ll use four balls and do the compass directions around the hole at each distance. For the first round of putts, I will roll all of them while looking at the hole instead of the ball. This frees up my mind to focus on feel again, while looking at my target. It’s a cool feeling and amazing how quickly you can feel what your putting stroke does….I bet you find you make more than you originally think.
Second round of putts, I go “eyes closed”. I’ll set up normally to each, get aimed, re-focus back to the ball, then close my eyes and make my stroke. It always blows my mind how much you need to trust your stroke and your body to make the motion. The physical feedback is crazy.
Maintain the “eyes closed” until you hear the ball drop in the hole. Continue through your 20′ round of putts. How many will you drain?
Reduce your total putts to watch your scores drop dramatically (and have your friends asking you what you’re doing or who you’re taking lessons from).
40 putts per round = 2.22 putts/hole
34 putts per round = 1.88 putts/hole
30 putts per round = 1.66 putts/hole
And we haven’t even talked about how far you hit it off the tee or how many GIR’s you average or how you chip and pitch! Time to set some putting goals, players.
Here are my current flat sticks. My Scotty Newport is in my locker. He may make an appearance in the spring. Most likely headed to Club Champion in Philly at some point this winter to do some Trackman putter fitting.