Some very good putting advice

Kevin O’Neill has thought long and hard about putting. He calls himself the Putting Professor and for good reason. He has developed a unique putter (which I recommend) and has devoted much of his adult life to helping golfers play better – and in particular the putting game.

We are like minded souls. We have a passion for golf and coaching and often think differently about the game of golf. Today I’m going to share with you an article Kev sent me (note: this was written two years ago but I’m reprinting it because it’s so useful). Here goes.

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Numbers in Golf article: a review

In May 2015 Martin Blake wrote an article for Golf Australia – When Golf Becomes a Numbers Game. (you should go read it)

Blake quotes Jack Newton as saying that Australia is producing too many players with great swings but with inferior ability to get the ball in the hole.

What should these top golfers do? Brad James, head of Golf Australia’s high performance unit, indicated that there had been a shift of emphasis among elite young players and coaches toward getting the ball in the hole. James said that this emphasis is happening already in Europe and the United States.

As an example of this change in focus, Blake describes the golf of Jordan Speith, “(He) does not overpower golf courses but he is an incredible putter and rarely makes bad mistakes”.

Let’s pause for a moment and analyse this statement:

Firstly you would assume that Speith has a map of every green with fall lines for every expected pin position. Prior to the game he would have devised a strategy for avoiding the trouble on each hole and avoid “short siding” himself. His caddy would have notes on possible three-putt territory.

Secondly, Speith would have selected preferred areas of the green to aim for – all about hitting the ball to the right place. The Australian contingent in the 2014 Asia Pacific Amateur Championship held at Royal Melbourne had “maps of every green with quadrants marked; places to go, places not to go”. It was all about keeping the ball in prime position – an uphill putt and avoiding the possibility of double bogies (Antonio Murdaca from Australia won the event).

So now, let’s think about how a golfer, not necessarily an elite golfer, can have less putts.

Starting away from the green, identify the side of the fairway that would give you the best shot to the preferred part of the green. On a hole that is reachable in two shots and has its pin tucked in the back right hand quadrant, you might want to position the tee shot to the left centre of the fairway for your shot. And vice versa if the pin is on the left side.

Play your shots to the preferred part of the green, not necessarily at the flag. Todd Sinnot, Australian Tour Professional shot three under for nine holes not aiming at the flag. Todd said that it felt strange but the numbers are on the board.

Be realistic in your expectation of sinking putts Here are some statistics from the USPGA Tour:

3’ 95%+
4’ 90%
5’ 80%
6’ 70%
7’ 60%
8’ 50%
9’ 45%
10’ 40% (rounded off)

So keep in mind the number of times you play or practice each week and be realistic as to how many putts you “should” sink.

What putts should you practice? There is a 20% drop off in the number of putts sunk in the 0-5’ range and a 40% drop off in the 5’-10’ range. And during the course of the round a golfer will have more putts in the 0-5’ range than the 5’-10’ range (about three and a half times more). Golfers might take the view that they would be better off practicing more 0-5’ than 5’-10’ putts.

Putting is both an art and a science. So to engage their creative side, I would suggest that golfers go out on their course at a quiet time of day and putt from different parts of the green to different pin positions. Go out with a golf buddy and challenge each other to a “nearest to the hole “ for each putt. You’ll become more intuitive when you are reading greens, even on unfamiliar courses.

About ten years ago I was told that putters were made at 35” long just as an advertising ploy – the putter head and its cover would stand out in the bag. The length had nothing to do with putting performance. Now the average length of putters on the USPGA Tour is 33.5”. Having your putter adjusted for you – loft, lie and length – will save you strokes (you won’t have to make as many compensations in your stroke). You might also want to consider modifying the balance point of your putter. Almost 50% of golfers tested on SAM Puttlab had more consistent strokes when the balance point of their putters was moved closer to their hands (Test conducted with 72 players at RACV Torquay Golf Club).

No matter what level of golf you play you’ll want a putter that works for you. Currently there is only one putter on the market that allows the golfer to position his/her head correctly every single time and if you position your head correctly then there is a greater chance of aligning your body correctly. Check out the Dot Putter here. You’ll aim better and be more consistent with your putting.
(Note: This test was conducted at Golftec indoor golf centre in Melbourne using a “PING “ type putter and a DOT PLX putter).

What’s the good news in this article?

The article implies that putting can be taught and that the old saying “either you can putt or you can’t” goes out the window. Almost everybody can learn how to putt better. Just as in every activity or sport, people have different starting points – you can start off being a lousy putter, “can’t putt to save my life” to navigating your way around the course in way less putts.

Finally, what’s my advice for time poor golfers (and for those who don’t want to practice their putting)?

Next time you go to the course and before you play, take three balls to the practice green and give yourself a sidehill putt of about 20’. Putt the first ball and see how you went for reading the break and judging the speed of the green. Repeat with the second ball. Depending on how you went you may decide to putt the third ball or not.

Having these putts will engage your creative side in determining the break plus give you a sense of the speed of the greens for the day and that time of the day.

Good luck with your putting,

Kevin O’Neill

Kevin O’Neill is a Master golf Coach with the World Golf Teachers Federation. He is the inventor of The DOT Putter and Director of The DOT Putter Company. Kevin is known for his innovative teaching and learning practices as well as his ongoing research into putting. Check out the Dot Putter here.

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Here are some of my thoughts:

If you learn to automate your putting game (putt without fear and stop thinking so much) you’ll putt better without almost any other effort.

All golfers, no matter their age, sex or ability will see a definite improvement if they spend most of their putting practice working on the shorter putts. Your goal with long putts is to get them close to the hole. Essentially, you’re trying to NOT 3 putt. If you happen to sink a long putt that is a very nice bonus. This is 80/20 thinking, where you get the biggest result for the least amount of effort.

I like the Dot Putter because it definitely helps you automate. You’ll naturally and instinctively get into a comfortable set up position and you won’t need over-think your set-up position. With the Dot Putter you can think less and just putt the ball. And this will certainly result in you taking less putts.

And with all Dot Putter orders, you’ll get a copy of my Look and Shoot Putting System book plus access to my Perfect Putting Membership site. This is a free value of over $90. Grab a Dot Putter today.

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1 Comment

  • Adam

    Reply Reply July 27, 2017

    My putting is terrible. Maybe not terrible, but certainly bad. Shot a lucky 79 with 35 putts, most of my 30 footers went past the hole by 12 feet, then I’d hole the 12 footer somehow.

    It’s all feel. When I coach people about putting, It’s mostly a discussion about feel. I need to feel the shot, and like tossing a ball, controlling distance is purely hand eye coordination.

    Golf in general is hand eye coordination. I use it for my chipping and pitching, which works wonderfully.

    Fear in putting is where my problem is. I fear missing the 2 footer, so I lip out. Or I fear hitting the 30 footer too far, so I blast it by 15 feet, or leave it well short.

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