By T.J. Tomasi
Today’s tour pros use their putter an average of 30 times a round, approximately 43 percent of their game. From professional play to recreational golf, the flat stick is in a player’s hands the greatest proportion of time. Thus the implications of focusing your efforts on better putting are obvious: This is where you improve your scoring the most.
And improvement in your putting comes faster than improvement in any other part of your game. You don’t need superior strength, eye-hand coordination or athleticism to improve your putting. The mechanics, setup and body movements can be quickly mastered by golfers of every athletic ability.
So give your putting the attention it deserves, but when you do, be realistic. Becoming upset when you miss a putt you think you should make affects your putting percentages.
A study found that tour players make about 54.8 percent of the putts attempted from 6 feet; they make only 33.5 percent of those from 10 feet, and at 15 feet, it gets worse — only 16.8 percent are made. So try to make every putt, but understand the universe of probabilities. Over a year, you will make only a certain percentage, and you have to accept it.
Use Any Style That Works
Putting allows for idiosyncratic styles. Ben Crenshaw, one of the modern game’s premier putters, once observed: “If there is one thing certain about putting, it is that it’s an individual business. The great putters have used every conceivable type of grip, stance and stroke.”
So you don’t have to model yourself precisely after the great putting masters, but you do need to learn the basics of putting and adapt these principles to your individual style and execution.
In this series on putting, I’ll outline some of the basic mechanics that will improve your putting, but the ultimate criteria of success is whether you can get the ball in the hole. If you are already a good putter, i.e., you average less than 30 putts per round, let me know your secret and we’ll integrate it into the series.
Next week: Part 2