July 29, 2017- by Steven E. Greer, MD
I have been too busy lately to hit balls or play a round of golf. But I have a little seven-foot indoor putting surface and am a bit addicted to hitting putts. I usually hit 50 or so per day, even putting in the dark as I watch movies.
Since I started The Golf Project one year ago, I have studied the techniques used by the best putters. An old Seve Ballesteros video is what I decided to emulate. Once I used his grip, I saw dramatic improvement.
I was always a pretty good putter and scrambler, but I started to get really good. I can make almost 100% of my 7-feet putts indoors on a perfect surface. Outdoors, on greens that break and have imperfections, that goes down to 75%, but the PGA average for seven-feet is 60%.
I got even better when I bought a new Ping putter and realized I was not quite gripping the club in my left hand properly. I tightened my left hand to give a stiffer wrist and made more putts outdoors.
Today, I played an actual round of golf for the first time in more than a week. The course, Champions, has excellent bent grass greens that roll true.
My driver was erratic and I was forced to scramble for par on almost every hole. Therefore, my impression of the round was that I was playing typical salvage golf.
However, I started to realize that I was doing something special in putting. I was making everything, literally. I quickly recorded the putts and distances before I forgot.
When I got home, I realized that I hit only 9 or 10 putts in the first nine holes (I can’t recall what I did on one hole, so 10 is conservative). All of my putts were of at least seven-feet in length. The longest was 30-feet, but it did not count as a putt because it was from five-feet off the green in the fairway.
So, I looked up the PGA statistics. The PGA leader, Brian Gay, averages only 27.5 putts per round, or 13.75 per nine holes. The all-time record on the PGA tour for fewest putts in a round is 18, or nine per nine holes. That is what I did today. I essentially tied a PGA record (I lipped out a 20-foot putt and came close to beating the record).
I was playing by the rules and not cheating in any way. I had plenty of time and the luxury of walking 360-degrees around each putt to read it and look for unexpected slope, etc. I used the same pre-shot routine that I have developed indoors.
It all worked. I made everything! I was in such a zone that I did not even realize what I was doing was special.
I expected to make seven-foot putts because I am automatic indoors. For longer putts, I had no anxiety. My thought process is to just think about striking the ball and ignore the outcome.
By the way, if you believe in karma or are superstitious, try what I do. I fix every ball mark I see on a green. I can’t help it. Be nice to the golf gods and they might be kind back.
Now, what was my score? I shot a six-over-par 41 because I had two double bogies and two bogies. My driving was terrible.
On the back nine, I hit too many out of bounds and had to pick up so I stopped counting the putts. But I finally started to hit nice 300-yard drives and good 100-yard wedges.
If I weren’t playing so poorly, I could have shot under par due to my putting. One day soon.
Here are the raw data:
My average length was of putt made was 11.75 feet
Hole #1, two-putted, double bogie
Hole #2, seven-foot putt, par save
Hole #3, seven-foot putt, par save
Hole #4, don’t recall the putts, one or two, got a bogie
Hole #5, five-foot putt, par save
Hole #6, ten-foot putt, par save
Hole #7- no putts at all (30-feet putter from 5-feet off the green in fairway), par save
Hole #8- nine-foot putt, bogie save
Hole #9- nine-foot putt, bogie save