The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

While there is still some golf left to be played in the Burgh, my game continues to flounder in the fall. This week, I am going to write about something I read in another blog, about how hard to hit putts. The Grateful Golfer asked the question, do you play your putts to die at the hole, or do you try to hit them 8 inches past the hole. Most of the respondents replied, that they play their putts to die at the hole. The Grateful Golfer also mentioned the Pelz philosophy of putting the ball 17 inches past the hole, which according to Pelz’s data, gives the ball the best chance of going in. I have a little different take on how you should think about the speed of the putt. I feel it depends on the length of the putt. I break my putts down into three arbitrary lengths, and have a different thought process on each putt.

Let’s start with putts over thirty feet, or approximately 10 steps. First of all, I try to make every putt. I am not an advocate of trying to get the putt within a 3 foot circle. I believe in the small target theory. Even though I am trying to make the putt, this is when I am trying to die the ball at the cup. I know my chances of making such putts are slim, so trying to die the ball at the cup gives me the best chance of not 3 putting, and a few will find the promise land in the bottom of the cup.

On putts that are between five and thirty feet, is where I adopt the Pelz philosophy, of getting the ball 17 inches past the hole. These putts have a greater chance of going in at that speed, and you want to make every effort to give them the best chance of going in.

Then there are the putts that are 5 feet and under. This is where I try to take a more aggressive attitude and get the ball to go in with a little more speed. The ball will usually hit the back of the cup. Here is a good drill to get the experience of doing this on the golf course. On the putting green start with a 3 foot putt that is fairly straight. Have 2 balls, one you are putting and the other one just about 3 inches directly across from the other ball the same distance. With the first ball make the putt with a nice speed going into the hole. You don’t want it going so fast that it hits the back of the cup and pops up in the air but you want to feel it dove in the cup or  hit the back of the cup. Then step up to the second ball and try to hit the putt with the same speed, but miss the cup on purpose to see how far this putt goes past the hole. You will probably be surprised how far this putt goes past the hole. Most likely it will be 2 to 2 and 1/2 feet. Then try to make the putt coming back. This will better prepare you  for the consequences of missing a short putt with an aggressive speed. Then do the drill with short breaking putts and at various distances under 5 feet.  With this aggressive attitude you should make a lot more of those little knee knockers.

These distances are certainly arbitrary and you can set up you own distances for each of the three philosophies. Certainly those philosophies will change on extremely down hill putts. By adopting a speed philosophy based on the length of the putts, should result in better putting stats.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

It’s been about six weeks since the last blog and the season is winding down. The year has been disappointing but I hope a very useful learning experience. My handicap rose from 3.6 in the spring to  5.2 with the handicapping season officially over on October 31st. My play was erratic all year and my tournament play with some brief exceptions, horrendous. The blog is back to the title of searching for the answer, instead of trying to execute the answer. Fortunately or unfortunately I did not execute the author either. So, what happened?

This time last year I thought I had found the answer, which was finding your that day golf swing. It was to approach each round with an open mind and try to feel your golf swing, and let your ball flight patterns dictate how you would swing for that day. Another way I put it was to abandoned that swing thought before it abandoned you. In the beginning this seemed to work out well and I thought I was really on to something for the 428th time. But as the year went on things began to go in the wrong direction. The way I was trying to compensate did not work as well on some golf courses and really did not work for tournament pressure. I wrote last spring that I thought the best way to get in the groove on the day that you played was to do opposite of the bad shot, rather than trying to allow for the bad shot. In other words if your first tee shot of the day was a high right shot, rather than aiming more left and trying to play that shot, I felt it would be better to aim right and draw the ball which would correct the problem of the first swing. There is not enough space in this blog to write about why this did not work, but it had to do many times with the way certain courses are designed and really trying to play a shot that was not the right shot for the situation. Needless to say this year went by too fast and did not go the way I envisioned it. I did manage to play 100+ rounds for the fourth consecutive year and I am still counting as there is still a little golf season left in the Burgh.

So the quest will go on, with a little different strategy. Now we all know that great ball striking does not always mean great scoring. Without great ball striking, however, you will not have great scoring. Yes, with a great short game and putting, you can always salvage a round where you are not hitting the ball very well, and maybe even pull out a round close to par. But that is still not great scoring.  The way to go about getting consistent ball striking every time you play  will be a major goal, in the coming year. It will boil down to finding a way to control your body and using particular muscles to control the way the golf swing is performed. I will discuss this hopefully with some positive answers in future blogs.