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.