Putting is one of the few golf activities that I can engage in year-round at GolfBlogger World Headquarters in Michigan. When the snow is falling, the wind blowing and the temperatures plummeting, I can still lay out a small putting course in my family and sun rooms and get some quality time in with the flat stick.
And that’s a good thing, because putting is fully half the game of golf. Two of the stokes on every par are set aside for putting, so on a par 72, 36 of those are for putts. The math here is simple. To score well, you need to putt well. Teaching pros have long insisted that the easiest way to improve your scores is to improve your short game. I’ll go one further. Simply work on improving your putting.
Fortunately, the putting stroke is the easiest thing in the game to master. Compared to a full swing (or, god forbid, one of those dreaded Dave Pelz three quarter clock swings), the putting stroke is simple, slow and controllable. When a ball goes offline on a drive, it’s often hard to tell which of a dozen things actually went wrong. When a ball falls short, rolls long or heads offline on a putt, the cause usually is more obvious.
Given the central importance of putting, and the relative ease of fixing a bad stroke, I have always found it strange that players who regularly three jack on the greens will spend so much time focusing on the full swing . It does absolutely no good to get to the green in regulation if you’re going to three- or even four-putt once you get there.
So feed your golf addiction this winter by practicing your putting. Set up one of those mechanical ball return targets in a room with a short carpet and have at it with a couple of dozen putts a day. Concentrate at first on tempo and a smooth stroke. Work on your putting distance control. You might even consider getting one of those putting plane systems that are designed to align your eyes, shoulders, clubface and path for a clean stroke.
Another fun thing to do is to head to the local well-stocked pro shop, spend an hour or so putting around on their large professional greens. My conscience usually bothers me after a free session like this, so I buy a box of balls.
Work On Your Putting is the sixth in a series of essays on things to do to feed your golf addiction in the off-season.