Putting For Dough
The money maker: Is it the 300 yard drive? Is it all the greens hit in regulation? You know the saying. "Putt for dough."
Maybe it's that sound...the click, then silence for a few moments, then the thunk and the roll as the ball falls into the cup. Maybe it's the cheers, the sighs, the tears that follow. Many sounds in life bring us joy, but for golfers, the sound of the ball coming off the putter and then dropping into the cup is the sound of joy, relief and accomplishment. It is quite possibly the best sound in golf!
Sure there have been phenomenal shots that we will never forget: Tiger's 220 yard bunker shot over water in the 2000 Canadian Open, Sergio's hit and run from behind the tree in the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah, Watson's chip in at Pebble Beach in the 1982 U.S. Open, but there's nothing like watching a champion roll a key putt. Your palms are sweating, heart is racing, the silence is deafening. For it is a true art form at work. The touch and skill required, the hours of practice, the strategy applied, the visualization, the creativity, it's all so beautiful to watch!
The Dreaded 3 Footer
Three Foot Putt Example
Few things in life can make a grown man as nervous as a 3 foot putt and few things can humiliate a grown man like missing one! The stats don't lie. No one has won a tournament by putting poorly. Tournaments are decided on the greens. What about the average golfer? How important is putting to him? After all, he's just trying not to embarrass himself and get the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible? That's the goal of the game of golf, right? The answer is...it's more important than he knows!
Before the evolution of equipment, shot making skill was paramount. For the modern golfer, courses have gotten less creative. A lot of land is moved to make play faster and easier. There are wide fairways, big greens and a lot of straight shots. Equipment is so good that it makes the ball go long and straight for even the best of hackers. Then there's the green...where true skill shines. This is where the champion will be carved into history. Whether it's a local foursome or the final group on the PGA Tour, this is what differentiates the skilled player from the hacker.
I'm A Pretty Good Putter
If I had a dollar for every student that told me they were a pretty good putter...well...I'd have a lot of dollars! The question here is... what IS pretty good? The problem is the average golfer's answer. In reality, they don't have a clue as to what good putting is and this is what holds them back from dramatically lowering their scores. In reality, very few of them are even decent. The low putting average on the PGA Tour as I am writing this article is a 1.700 by Luke Donald. Incredible! Think that's cool? What's even cooler is that tour players miss about 6 greens per round and the winners still usually average less than 30 putts per round. Hope at last!
Putting has trickled away from being just an inspiration and an art form. Thanks to modern day video, technology and research it has become a bit of a science as well. With all golf instruction, I like to tell my students "it is a science, but it's not rocket science." What I mean by that is we simply need to find out what your current motion is and then decide how we want it to be. From there, we have the blueprints for the lesson. Along with video analysis and other analysis tools this can be quickly and easily deciphered.
The Fastest Way To Improve Your Score
So the best news of all for you is your scores can come down! Your putting average can be lowered! You don't have to be a great athlete to putt well, you just need the right prescription for improvement. I can help through analysis and prescription of the best tips and drills I have used in the last 18 years of teaching golf.
Gimmies are an agreement between 2 losers who can't putt. - Jim Bishop
I don't fear death, but I sure don't like those 3 footers for par. - Chi Chi Rodriguez
The above are two of my favorite quotes about putting. It is the part of the game that never gets underestimated by the pros, but does by amateurs frequently.
Are you a straight line or arc putter? Do you slam it to the back of the cup or let it trickle in? Do you use a long or short putter? Do you putt with your glove on or off? Do you use this grip or that one or that one or that one? Do you putt left hand or right hand low? Quick like Arnold Palmer or slow and smooth like Ben Crenshaw?
Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.