What Is The Quickest Way To Lower Your Score?
By John Green
a. Eraser on your golf pencil.
b. Tear your scorecard in half (throw one half away).
c. Use the foot mashie when needed.
d. Only count the even holes.
e. Learn to putt better.
While the first four answers could be true, the correct (and legal) one is ‘e’. The theme of this article is “quick” so I won’t dispense with a long, drawn out dissertation on putting. Let’s focus on two areas that can help you putt better: Reading the hole and distance control.
Reading The Hole
With all of the information and methods of reading the green, one thing is generally left out: does the green slope around the hole? The best method of reading the hole is to walk by the hole (without stepping on anyone’s putting line). As you walk by, look down into the cup and look around the circumference of the hole. Look at the distance (spacing of the soil) from the cup liner up to the green. If one side is higher, the green breaks towards the lower side. I must add a small assumption to this idea: your grounds crew installs the cup correctly. (If they didn’t, the flagstick would not be pointing straight up.) While the putting surface looks flat around the cup, many times it isn’t.
Distance control is the number one issue that most golfers have with their putting. I put the blame squarely on their practice swing/stroke(s).
Above is the most common practice swing/stroke I see; looking down while swinging the putter as demonstrated by Scott. To me, this type of practice swing/stroke serves no purpose whatsoever; unless you like looking at your putter go back and forth. In order to know how far to hit the ball, you need to look at the distance to the hole while taking your practice swing/stroke. That way your brain is trying to visualize and feel how hard (or soft) the ball must be struck in order to get it to the hole. Can your brain figure this out while looking down at your putter going back and forth?
Here are two types of effective practice swings.
The first type of practice swing is where you are standing next to the ball (the putter should be close to the ball, but not so close you might hit it). As you are swinging the putter, look at the distance from the ball to the hole. (You should be able to see the ball in the corner of your lower eye.) As you are taking your practice swing/strokes, you are trying to visualize/feel how hard or soft you need to hit the ball to get it to the hole. It should take a few swings/strokes before you have the distance figured out. Then, step up to the ball and knock it in or within gimmee range. Gimmee meaning it is close enough for you to make the next putt; not picking it up as it is commonly thought. Remember, we are playing by the rules!
If your peripheral vision is not very good, try this method. Stand a few feet behind the ball. Take your practice swings while looking down the line to the hole. Same method applies here: you just want to take a few swings/strokes to visualize/feel out how hard (or soft) you need to hit it. Some golfers with good peripheral vision like this method better. I would suggest you try both and see which you like best. Which ever way you choose, I guarantee your distance control will improve because your focus is on the distance to the hole and not watching the putter go back and forth!
If you need more help with your putting, see your nearest PGA/LPGA Golf Professional.