Friday, February 03, 2006

I want to putt like Tiger Woods

Yeah, who doesn't?

I admit it. Putting is not among my favorite things about playing golf. I like whacking that little ball and watching it fly. Putting just isn’t sexy. I’m pretty sure Tiger Woods would vehemently disagree on that point, which is why I’d really like to change my own attitude about it. While my golf game is teeming with opportunities for improvement, putting is easily identifiable as an area where I could shave several strokes off my scores. Still, during practice sessions, I’d rather take full swings and hear that satisfying thwack. I really need to commit to working on my putting game off the course.

Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard “drive for show, putt for dough,” probably enough that we want to throttle the next person who says it. But let’s face it – most of us aren’t playing for the kind of dough that really makes putting that important. Maybe a couple bucks among friends. I do know that for me, the more there is at stake, the better I seem to putt. Evidently, even without practice, I could improve my scores with a little more focus on the greens when nothing’s on the line. Actually working on speed and touch and reading skills would serve to give me even greater probability of making those putts on which I really focus. Is that idea enough to inspire me to get out to the practice green more often?

Based on my data, if I eliminated only the stupid missed putts from my rounds over the last few months, I would have been in the 80s more frequently, in the lower 80s on several occasions, and possibly even have broken 80 once. Surely that idea is enough to inspire me to get out to the practice green more often, right? (I’ll call you Shirley if I want to.)

A tangent on different types of golfers

A lot of golfers can’t be bothered to improve their scores, they just like to get out there and “have fun.” Whatever. Sure it’s fun. But it’s more fun the better you do. And it’s even more fun if you’re competing. And it’s even more fun than that if you’re competing and you win. Winning is fun. Don’t misunderstand me – I absolutely enjoy playing the game. I’ll go out and play a round all by myself and truly enjoy it. I also know that every stroke of every round is helping me get better for the next time I am competing.

Then there’s that guy (you know you’ve played with him) who thinks he deserves to play better than he does even though he only plays once every couple of months. He gets down on himself for every poorly executed shot, and if he’s having any fun at all, he sure doesn’t show it. I played with that guy last weekend at Rustic Canyon. Fortunately, he figured it out around the 13th hole, flagged down the beer cart girl and enjoyed the rest of his round.

I hear people talk about Tiger’s golf game and it seems like it’s always about his distance, his drives, his amazing recoveries to get on the green out of trouble. Those are all fantastic, but if I had to pick one thing about Tiger’s game to emulate, it would most definitely be putting. I don’t watch a lot of golf on television, but when I do, or when I see highlights of his wins, he’s always making incredible putts! A lot of times, he’s not making birdie because he’s stuck it close to the flag, he’s making it because he can make the longer putts. He saves par the same way. He doesn’t turn a troublesome lie in the rough into a bogie by going for the pin because he doesn’t have to. He knows he can put it in the middle of the green and still make the putt for birdie or par. Even from the middle of the fairway, I’ll play smart sometimes and avoid that pin but then I’ll three-putt from 20 feet. Dumb. Won’t that idea get me out on the practice green more often? I want to putt like Tiger. If only I’d get out there and practice.

The Speculum Squat. What I would give to see through Tiger's eyes.
I wonder if the line of the putt actually glows on the grass for him.

What now?

Okay, here’s my plan. I’m going to start calling it the “practice facility” instead of the “driving range” to try to readjust my thinking on a fundamental scale. And, the next time I go to the practice facility, I’m only taking my putter. I’m going to practice putting for a half hour once a week. That’s a reasonable goal. It might not sound like enough to really help, but I know that if I get overly aggressive with it, I’m not likely to follow through and then I’ll be disappointed that I didn’t. So I’ll set this modest target, and since it’s more than I’m doing now it should still help my game.

Next post.


Martin Levac said...


How many rounds did you not enjoy last season? Figure on not enjoying about the same number of rounds this season. Instead of wasting your time not enjoying a round of golf, use the time to practice so that during those rounds you actually enjoy, you'll enjoy them more because you'll be better at it.

Have fun.


Golfchick said...

Hi Martin,

Probably around 1%, but that was due to other circumstances, not my performance. Sure, I have moments I don't enjoy, but not entire rounds.

I do need to practice more, though. Thanks for the nudge.