If you hit a putt the right distance but are off-line, you will rarely be more than three or four feet away - and even we weekend hackers can hole four-footers more often than not. But if you're bang on line but get the weight of stroke or speed of the green wrong you could end up 20 feet away. For this reason, speed is far more important than line, so it makes sense to spend a few moments trying to gauge the quickness of the greens rather than hole putts, before you tee off.
And yet a practice putting ritual seen at every golf club every weekend is likely to make this goal less, rather than more, achievable. What happens is that players take three golf balls (for some reason it is always three) and then try and stroke them to the same hole. If they miss with the first they then try and compensate with the subsequent two.
But this is ineffective for a simple reason - on the course you get one chance, and that's it. A putt once struck cannot be re-taken and whatever lessons you learn from it have to be taken to the next hole because they're no good on the one you're playing.
Therefore, when you next arrive at the club with a few minutes to spare, take your three balls onto the practice green but always hit them to three different targets, at varying distances from you.
At the end of your practice session you can stroke home a few four-footers to give you confidence and for the satisfaction of hearing the ball dropping but most of your work should be on getting the ball close from distance.
|| 18 - MAY 2004