PUTTING IS EASY

“Drive for show. Putt for dough” , an old truism. Making putts can make up for a lot of bad long shots.

Putts are the most important shots in the game, and the easiest to improve. 2-putting a green is playing 1/2 the hole in par. Get your long putt close and get your short putt in.

OK! I get it! But how do you get down in 2 putts regularly?

First, I have a game. I call it Solitaire. It’s simple. Go to the putting green with 5 balls and 4 tees. Set the tees in a line, 3, 4, 5, and 6 feet from a hole. The standard putter is about 3 feet long. Lay it on the ground at a hole to measure 3′, and stick a tee in the green. Then do it again to get 6′. Then estimate 4′ and 5′. Putt 5 in a row or 9 out of 10 into the hole from 3′ and 4′. Then 5 in a row or 8 of 10 from 5′ and 6′. If you miss from 4, 5, or 6, feet, start again from 3 feet. And don’t leave until you’ve met your goal from all 4 positions in one string.

That’s how to learn to make the short putts.

For  getting the long putts close to the hole, go to the golf course early. Take three balls to the putting green. Putt them back and forth between two holes that are 20 to 25 feet apart. Don’t worry about sinking these putts, just try to get them close to your target hole. After about a dozen putts, you should have the feel for how hard to hit the ball to put it close from that distance.

When you get on the course, let your brain automatically judge how hard to hit the ball on all putts from 10 to 40 feet. It will do this surprisingly well, at least to put you within a couple of feet of the hole or better. Then use the skills learned at Solitaire to putt those short putts into the hole.

Finally, on putts longer than 40 feet, set yourself up halfway to the hole, and take a couple of practice strokes swinging with the tempo you’d use from that halfway distance. Then  go back to your ball and take a couple of practice strokes at twice that tempo. Then putt the ball. This is a good way to estimate how hard to hit the ball.

And remember, in putting, line is important, but distance is more important!

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