Guest Post – Dave Taylor “The Putting Clinic”
After watching Mark O’Meara drain a 20 footer to win The Masters in 1998, then watching Phil making his 18 foot putt to win The Masters in 2004 and finally seeing Tiger sink that 12 footer to tie Rocco Mediate for The 2008 US Open, only one word came into my mind each of those times, “WOW”!
In arguably two of the largest sporting arenas in the world, with thousands of people in attendance and millions watching on television, those gentlemen made those putts. How many times have you watched a PGA Tour Pro miss a 4 foot putt on the 18th hole to lose by one? It happens but it is rare. How many times have you watched one of your playing partners miss a 4 foot putt on the 18th hole to lose by one? That, more than likely, happens hundreds or thousands of times daily.
Practice Makes Perfect
PGA Tour Pros spend hours on the practice green, hitting 4 footers, 10 footers, left to right benders, right to left subtle breaks, uphill, downhill. I believe they leave the practice green when they are confident with their putting stroke.
That is why “These Guys are Good”. They are confident standing over a 20 footer to win the Championship. They are not just trying to get it close to avoid a three putt, three putting is not in their mind. “Those Guys” are trying to make it. This confidence comes from the hours of sinking putts on the practice green.
The average golfer may go to the range for 15-20 minutes before starting their round. Then they may or may not go hit a few putts on the practice green. Now at the first tee “John” hits a great drive then a nice approach shot to about 20 feet. “John” then blasts the 20 footer 4 feet past the cup and then three putts for bogie. Does that sound familiar?
Drive for Show – Putt for Dough
Most amateur golfers feel the need to produce 300 yard drives and will pay their local teaching Pro for lessons to help produce those monster drives. Very few amateur golfers seek lessons to make those crucial putts that win the Club Championship, or capture the low score in their foursome of the day.
I’m not saying everyone should get on the phone and book a putting lesson or two, although it really wouldn’t hurt. I am saying most golfers need to visit the putting green to gain that feeling of comfort and confidence needed, to step up and stroke the ball into the center of the cup.
Before you leave your house to go play 18, commit to 30 minutes on the practice green. Hit putts from 3-6 feet then 6-10 feet. Practice those putts over and over again.
Challenge yourself to make ten six footers in a row (it is not as easy as it sounds).
You need to make putts from that length consistently to score. The more putts you make the more confident you will become. That confidence will follow you to the course. That confidence is the needed ingredients to sink that ten footer to win.
Keep Tabs On Yourself
If you are not already doing so, keep a separate scorecard of how many putts per round. After the round, reflect on the number of three putts you had. How many of those three putts were caused by missing a four foot putt? The answer, I bet, is nearly all. The average golfer will three putt about four times per round. Make everything inside of four feet and most of your three putts will disappear.
If you can’t go to the course, practice those 3-10 footers in your house. Again challenge yourself to make ten six foot putts in a row. As you get better, challenge yourself to try to break your own record of how many six footers you can make in a row. The carpeting in your house will do, but if you are serious, I would recommend purchasing a high grade portable putting green.
Or better yet, if you have the room, think about how cool a “Man Cave” with a nice size putting green would be. Spend time in the off season practicing indoors, that practice will pay off this coming spring.
Dave Taylor is the Founder of “The Putting Clinic” in Pasadena, Maryland. The Putting Clinic is an indoor putting facility where students can take private putting lessons or engage in group putting lessons.