Tag Archives: strategy

More Tips on Putting — Strategy and a Little Mechanics

Putting, Not Again?!
Putting, Not Again?!

3 foot putts are my bane.  There I said it.  I am owning that comment.  I swear the hole literally gets smaller the closer I get to the hole.  It’s like threading a needle with oven mitts.  I hate them.  That is to say, I loathe being in a position that close to the hole.

I should be happy.  I really should be happy.  Travel hundreds of yards every hole only to be slapped in the face by the cruel reality — I suck at putting.  It’s frustrating when you knock an approach shot within feet of the hole only to be robbed of your birdie.  I stand over my lonely white ball knowing I will miss that ever crucial putt.  I hate it.  I really really hate it.

Putting ChallengesLeaving that many strokes on the golf course only increases my frustration level.

Soft grip.  Firm grip.  Forward push.  Eyes over the ball.  Stroke the ball.  Putt through the ball to the hole.  Nothing seems to work consistently for me.  It sucks to be me.

Thankfully, been using soft hands lately that barely hold the putter and concentrating on rotating my core with good success on the greens.  I suppose the soft hands allow me to concentrate on the mechanics and the putting stroke instead of trying to manipulate the head of the club and force the ball into the hole.  Now, I can lag putts better so quick greens are not as daunting.  Keeping my fingers crossed it’s been relatively successful thus far.  Just have to believe I hit the ball hard enough to make it to the hole.

I can only dream of sinking a putt from 50 let alone 3 feet.

What I find and makes sense for me to try, I share.  Enjoy!

Coach UP:  Golf Tips on Putting


Keeping your game simple…The Set-Up.

I have always had trouble with this.

There are too many variables in your swing.  Or so I thought.

There is hope though.  Consider this.  Your body already knows the golf swing.  So why complicate that swing and limiting it.  Your swing doesn’t have to be perfect.  We don’t draw pictures.  We take score.  Don’t complicate your swing with a long laundry list of must do’s in your swing.  Keep it simple.  Allow yourself one swing thought.  But even simpler than that.  Break down your swing into several parts.  In other words there should be two things you should be thinking about — direction and distance; everything else is fluff.

Direction is in the set-up.  Distance is in the swing itself.  Set yourself up to succeed by pointing yourself in the right direction.  Once that is set or set to the best of your ability you no longer have to worry about direction.  Your shot is whatever your shot will be.  Why worry about direction now?  Instead focus on distance.  Get the ball to the target.  That should be your only concern once your have lined up to your target.

When my swing goes out the back door my fall-back position is always my set-up.  My reset button if you will when all else fails.  Do you have something you can call upon to ground you?

For me it’s simple.  My pre-shot routine may be silly but it helps my focus and essentially sets my body to the task at hand.  In less than 30 seconds (15 seconds typically) I have myself aligned to my target and the proper swing thoughts in my head; ready, swing, hit my target.

Essentially it’s this.  I take a practice swing.  I make sure I have the proper feeling in my swing (for me it’s to ensure I make a proper turn — I have a bad back.)  Then I walk up to my ball and align myself to my target.  I set myself then I simply make sure I have my swing thought (it’s “short turn.”) And then I make my swing.  If I hit the ball well or not I move on to the next shot.

It’s that simple.  I hit a bad shot, no sweat, I can recover.  Move on.

Without a solid routine I know I won’t hit my intended target.  Why?  I leave too much to chance.  Maybe I will hit it or maybe I won’t.  I know however if I take the time to do my set-up I have a better chance of hitting the target.  And confidence in your swing helps your golf game.  Doubt is the killer.

One thing that stuck in my head that a semi-pro pool player (yes a pool player) told me once.  If you walk up to your ball without an idea of what you want to do in your head, you already missed your shot.  Take that to heart folks.

Take the time to pick a target.  Once you have that target, line up yourself to your target.  Set yourself, then allow yourself a single swing thought.  Don’t complicate it.  Keep it simple.  Then swing away.

Don’t linger over the ball.  A bad shot takes about the same amount of time as a good shot so why dwell over the ball.  Just hit it.


Putting — more attention to detail

This year one of my resolutions for my golf game is to improve my putting.  That is to say I want to be more consistent with my putts.

But what sort of consistency am I looking?  To say I want to putt better isn’t enough.  In fact I would hazard to guess that I need to be consistent with certain types of putts.

I need to objectify my selection so I can best evaluate my situation.

So that got me to thinking.  Where or what type of putts do I need to be consistent.  I can spout numbers as to why but what sort of putts will help me save pars or make birdies?

Then it dawned on me.  Long putts are OK but my chances are remote on making them consistently.  I am leaving too much to chance.  So short putts are the key but what sort of short putts should I make consistently?

I decided on a random distance, and I said two paces or around 5-6 feet.  Anything within 5-6 feet I want to hole out consistently.  Now how do I do that?

Been puttering around my local golf range today to figure out what I need to look for and I recall what one of my coaches told me long ago — Keep It Simple, Stupid.  So if I know the line a putt will roll and so long as I align myself properly (my set up) then all I really have to worry about is pace (speed) and distance.  But since I already know that I want to focus on just putts two paces from the hole, all I really have to worry about is the pace of my putt.

Focusing on just one thing instead of a plethora of other variables is liberating to say the least.  Now in order to ensure I have the proper pace I have to make sure my mechanics (my putting swing) is consistent so I can predict the path my ball will take.

Interesting.  I tell you scribbling these ideas down allows me to coordinate my thoughts so I can focus on the goal instead of a multitude of variables.

Now I just have to execute.  More on that later.

Golf: Breaking it down to it’s simplest terms.

It’s all about score.

It’s just that simple.  Why complicate an already complicated game?  You can have the worst swing, the worst ball flight, wear hand-me-downs and look like you walked out of a homeless shelter but if you can score, how can anyone fault you on style points?  You played better than they did.

I hear excuses like, “The Greens were terrible,” or “I just couldn’t get my game together because the pace of play was so slow,” and so on.  They are what they are — excuses.  Why is it that some players have rotten days yet still manage to come in with a respectable score?  Are they just luckier?  Perhaps.  Perhaps, not.

I prefer the later.  Sure having an excuse is a great cop-out.  But does it really serve any purpose other than to smooth over your bruised ego?  Personally I would much rather figure out why I messed up and perhaps, just perhaps should the occasion rear its ugly head again I may just have an answer.

You have heard it all before.  Golf coaches stress the importance of a short game.  Rely on your putting.  But why?  Is there something they aren’t telling you?  How about I break it down this way.

It may seem obvious to you but to me this was a revelation that was 20 years too late.

A par 4 for example is a tee shot, an approach shot and two putts.  That is what it’s supposed to be theoretically.  A par 5 similarly is a tee shot, a fairway shot, an approach and two putts. Finally a par 3 is simply an approach with two putts.

Now that is all well and good if you hit every green and make every putt.  But what if you miss the green on your approach?  Then you throw in an extra stroke for every hole you miss your green.  What if you make a single putt instead and make up the difference?  How do you do that?  The obvious answer, “hit the ball so close to the hole you just one putt or chip/pitch it in.”

The math of this is simple.  There are 18 holes on a golf course.  There are usually 10 par 4 , 4 par 5 and 4 par 3 holes per golf course with a par 72.  Putts alone equal 51% of your game.  Add your approach shot and that becomes 69% of your game.

Hole Type 3 % 4 % 5 % Importance Par
Qty 4 10 4 72
Tee Shot 1 33% 1 25% 1 20% 26%
Fairway 0% 0% 1 20% 4%
Approach 0% 1 25% 1 20% 18%
Put 2 67% 2 50% 2 40% 51%

Sure your tee shot is important but only with respect to par 3’s.  And it gets worse if you miss the green on your approach shot.

Hole Type 3 4 5
Score 4 % 5 % 6 % Importance Par
Qty 4 10 4 90
Tee Shot 1 25% 1 20% 1 17% 20%
Fairway 0% 0% 1 17% 4%
Approach 0% 1 20% 1 17% 15%
Chip 1 25% 1 20% 1 17% 20%
Put 2 50% 2 40% 2 33% 41%

Putting and chipping would account for 61% of my game.  If that wasn’t a wake up call I don’t know what is.  Add your approach shot and it jumps to a whopping 76%.  That is a HUGE part of your game.  Doing the math, I saw where I needed to concentrate.  And specifically where to concentrate.   Chips and putts — that was the key with approach shots being my second area to focus.  The next question was how the devil do I do that?  Keep track of your score but also track your Fairways hit, greens-in-regulation, and putts.  Keep your data collection simple so you can determine at a glance where your shortcomings arise.

One-putting, not impossible just difficult to do consistently.  Chipping it close, sample problem just different location and it’s easier to putt a ball you manage to chip close to a hole.

Now when I practice whenever I do, I know it’s tempting to pull out the driver but now I focus on hitting shots certain distances.  Why?  I know I will encounter those type of shots in my game (like a 75 yard pitch with my wedge).  Now standing over a ball I have the confidence to say to myself you have this shot.  You can hit it and this is what the ball will do when it lands.  If I miss it, so what.  Just recover.

The question then became how to score instead of making a perfect shot.  It took a lot of pressure off of me and instead allowed me to focus on the task at hand — saving par.  So what if I hit a ball poorly so long as I managed to get the ball on the green or so what if I hit the wrong line on my putt so long as I was close on my second putt to save par or bogey.  Now after a boatload of practicing chipping and putting I can honestly say I feel comfortable around the greens.  I focus on where I want my ball to be and execute.  If I miss then re-evaluate and execute.

The next time you hear one of those favorite excuses just remember what you could have done or rather should have done.  Just leave no excuses out there on the golf course.  You either executed what you wanted done or you didn’t.

Golfer Profiling

Watched CSI?  Heard of Criminal profiling?  How about Racial Profiling?

Well I am not as politically correct but I found out a few years ago about Golfer Profiling.  What is it?  To me it defines what a golfer does or plays to — his tendencies if you will.  (Thanks Coach!)  And playing to those tendencies will make you aware of where you need to improve your game and drop your score.  Because let’s face it in golf it’s not the high score that wins; it’s how low can you go!

Now I didn’t put a lot of stock into this until I started tracking my own game.  I mean meticulously trying to figure out why I struggled playing a game I so dearly loved.  At first I kept saying it was my mechanics and to some extent it was.  But I kept playing with golfers with similar or lesser ability yet they SCORED better than I did.  Did they know the rules better than me?  Perhaps.  Did they put better than I did?  Maybe.  The truth though is they thought of this game as a just that  — a game.  A game that can be played well if you know how to score.

Mechanics that was for the golf range.  Rules of golf for playing in a tournament.  To play this game you have to master just a few things — chase a little white ball into a hole in as few as strokes as possible.

Now how the hell do you do that?  When I was originally confronted with that question it was like a light bulb went on in my head.  I evolved from just “chasing that ball” to chasing that ball in as few as strokes possible.

It’s subtle I know but nevertheless mind-blowing to this hacker.

Let me illustrate.  See the graph below it shows the tendencies of various golfers at various skill levels based on score.

% Fairways
Iron Accuracy
Putts per Round


Seeing this got me thinking on the differences between various levels of players.  Now I saw the differences between a player that shot in the 90’s versus a player who regularly shot in the 80’s and so on.  Where to improve.  Where to focus my attentions.

Just to say to another golfer, “you need to know your short game,” isn’t enough.  You need to know your short game “100 yards and in.”  You need to quantify your shortcomings so you can adjust.  If your short game isn’t working focus on your putting.  If that isn’t working focus on getting on that green in regulation.  Improve your chances for success.  Honestly I don’t have enough time to devote to this game like I used to.  So everything has to be spot-on or I waste my time and time is money.  So what do I need to do to get the results I want?  These are the sort of questions you need to ask yourself if you want to improve at this game.

So it is this humble hacker’s assessment that seeing these tendencies listed in such a manner it became easy to assess my game, assess what needed to be focused and ultimately get my game to a level I felt comfortable playing.  Hacking can be fun but let’s be honest it can wear on you during a round.  It’s not fun.  It’s not pretty.  This could be just the band-aid you need to help you stay focused playing 18 holes.

The real proof of this pudding though is will it work for you?