Making Putts

Making Putts 1
(Brent Thomson/Flickr)

ANYONE WHO HAS PLAYED much golf knows that scoring happens around and on the green. He or she who makes the most putts is usually the one who wins on tour week in and week out.

I write about this game much more than I play, but yesterday I had the good fortune to play in a captain’s choice tournament, or scramble. I hit some nice tee shots, a few solid irons and even reached a par-5 in two with a 3-wood, probably my best tee-to-green shot of the day.

But it was the two long putts I holed that gave me the most satisfaction. One was a downhill putt of at least 30 feet. The other was a 20-foot left-to-right breaker from the apron.

I thought of something Tiger Woods said after he sunk that incredible tying putt on the 72nd hole of last year’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. When Tiger was asked how he did it, I remember him saying he picked out his line and tried to put his best stroke on the ball. That was pretty much it.

Commit to your line. Stroke it well. Simple.

We all know that Tiger believes he can sink those putts in the most pressure-packed moments, but even he can’t control spike marks, changing light, grain and other variables. In the end, all Tiger can do is trust his line and his stroke. Keyword: trust.

The result? Tiger hits a lot of very solid putts that roll true and find the cup.

Back to my round yesterday. One of the players on our team was a 15-year-old boy who had the raw power to hit 300-plus yard drives (in any direction). He will soon be playing on the high school golf team.

I suggested to the boy’s 66-year-old gramps, also in our group, to tell the boy to work his butt off at his short game because that’s what makes the difference in this game at every level. It’s not nearly as glamorous as monster drives, but it’s the key to scoring and trophies. It’s what makes Tiger Woods so great.

−The Armchair Golfer

Photo of author
Neil Sagebiel

5 thoughts on “Making Putts”

  1. “He or she who makes the most putts is usually the one who wins on tour week in and week out.”

    Or the fewest from knockin’ it stiff.

    Nice observations. True dat.

  2. Truer words were never spoken. As someone who woke up one day with the yips so bad that I couldn’t make an 18 inch putt, I can tell anyone who’ll listen that you can drive every green but if you can’t putt, you might as well hang it up…the parties over.

  3. This past weekend at Sybase was the perfect illustration of your point.

    In the final round yesterday Ji Young Oh was playing with Suzann Pettersen and Brittany Lincicome. She was consistantly 40 or 50 yards behind them in the fairways, but she seemingly wasn’t at all bothered by it because she’s embraced her own strengths – her wedge shots and her putting – and knows how important these are to the end result.

    Although there would have been much more fanfare had Michell Wei or Paula Creamer won I was happy to see Ji Young take the tournament. I think it’s provides an excellent lesson on the importance of the short game, not to mention encouragement for those who aren’t the longest hitters.

  4. Thank you, all, for your comments. The power game gets a lot of attention, but it still comes down to getting the ball in the hole. That will never change.


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