The short shot leads to the long shot! Little things add up to big things! These are statements that are true in golf and true in life. Putting accounts for 40% of all strokes on the golf course. As a golf instructor, I’m always encouraging players to practice their putting. Becoming a better putter is by far the fastest way to improve your score. Putting being 40% of your score is one reason to improve your putting, but when your putting improves it’s amazing how your entire short game improves. As your touch improves with the putter it carries over into the other parts of your short game such as chipping and pitching. The short shot really does lead to the long shot.
Let’s look at a few things we can all do to improve our putting. The two elements of a good putt are to start the ball on the correct line and have the correct speed. Aim is probably the biggest mistake most players make with their putting. It may be their eyes that cause the problem or it may be the putter, but the truth is – most players cannot aim their putter. We used to joke around the golf shop that the best putting training aid was sold in the hardware store. I’m talking about a chalk line that carpenters use. If you can find a straight putt on the putting green and pop a line with a chalk line tool you will have set up a very effective putting aid. The biggest benefit to using this chalk line is that you can actually see where you’re aiming.
I’m going to use myself as an example. On a 20 foot putt, I will probably aim 6 inches to the right of the hole without knowing it. I played college golf and really never knew this until about 10 years after college. The result from aiming right was that I taught myself to pull the putt. Not knowing I was aiming right, my subconscious took over and made the adjustment to pull the putt back on line. This really used to bother me until I found out that Payne Stewart had the same tendency. I’m no different from most other golfers. Most golfers really don’t know how to aim. I started using the Triangulator from SeeMore Golf instead of a chalk line and it’s been a tremendous help to my aim. I set the Triangulator up parallel to the target line (see picture) and now I have a reference to show my correct aim. As Vince Lombardi and many others have said, “It’s not practice that makes perfect, it’s perfect practice that makes perfect.”
The second most important part of putting is speed. We must learn how to judge the pace of the putt. The truth is, most all of us are capable of rolling the ball at the right pace. Have you ever balled up a piece of paper and tossed it into the trash can? Usually if you just glance and throw, you’ll come pretty close to the target. But if you start thinking about how far to throw it or how far to take your arm back, you’ll probably make a bad throw. This is what happens to our “natural touch” on the golf course. We get over the putt and worry if we are aimed correctly or think about how far to take the putter back and whatever God given naturally ability we have is tossed out the window. If we just step up and hit the putt with very little thinking we’ll probably make a much better stroke. That’s called “getting out of our own way.”
Now granted, we do need some good putting fundamentals such as keeping our head and body still, having a good grip, aiming correctly, playing the ball in the same position each time, having a putter that fits us and making a good rhythmical stroke. But these are really basic fundamentals that any person can learn with a little coaching. The key quickly becomes setting up correctly each and every time. SeeMore Golf has a great system that I recommend to many students. They call it RifleScope technology (RST). Now just in case you’re wondering, SeeMore does not pay me to say that. I just love the fact that a putter can help your aim, ball position, set up, stroke and roll. This system (RST) is accomplished simply by “hiding the red dot” (see logo below). When you set up to the ball, you can look down at the putter and when you “hide the red dot” (see logo below) you’re set up in the correct position. By setting up the same way each time, you’re able to start reproducing the same stroke each time and then you’re establishing the “habit” of doing it correct every time. That’s how you start getting better.
To be fair, some of Scotty Cameron’s Titleist putters have a similar system that will help you set up correctly. I would encourage everyone to experiment with a putter that can help you set up consistently. Here’s a good one for you. The average 18 handicap golfer will move his putting ball position a total of 14 inches during a round of golf. Do you think that golfer has a consistent set up? Placing one of these putters in someone’s hands will take 50% of the battle away right off the bat and they’re now on the way to consistent putting. Remember that putting is 40% of our score. The putter is the most used club in a round of golf. And the better we become at putting, the better our chipping and pitching become. The better our short game becomes the better our iron game becomes and the scores start going down. Here’s another fact to think about…only 10% of all golfers take golf lessons and only 10% of all golfers can shoot 90 or below. There may be something to that. Out of the 10% of golfers that take golf lessons only 6% are on putting. I recommend you get out and start changing those statistics. The Short Shot Leads To The Long Shot and Little Things Add Up To Big Things. Keep smiling and start working on your putting. ;o)
Andy Loving, PGA
“The Short Shot Leads To The Long Shot”