The truth about putting

Tiger Woods said some interesting things about his putting game during an interview yesterday. He had just won his match over Aaron Baddeley and had helped the USA clinch the Presidents Cup.

He commented that he putted well the first few days but the ball wasn’t finding the cup. So although he felt like he did everything he could, plenty of putts slipped by.

This is reality and is often the case with putting. It’s a bit of a black art. All you can really do is hit the best putt you can and be accepting of the result. It’s just the way it is.

Then Tiger contradicted himself. He went on to say that he worked with Steve Stricker the night before to work on releasing the putter head through the ball. To me, this makes no sense.

If he was putting the ball well why would he want to change anything?

I’m not convinced this is the true story. Tiger, probably wanting to give the interviewee a good story, embellished the truth a bit.

It’s almost impossible to make a significant change to your putting stroke the night before. Even though you may feel you can make a change, you can’t. Tiger’s putting stroke is locked in and for the most part would be automated. Even if he wanted too, he couldn’t significantly make any meaningful change.

And I could almost certainly bet that when he stood on the putting green during yesterday’s round he was 100% automatic and wasn’t thinking about releasing the putter head or whatever else he mentioned during the interview. And where some putts slipped by early in the week, a few putts found the hole yesterday. There would have been no noticeable difference to his style.

Here’s the main point.

You are never going to make every putt you look at. There are so many variations with putting that even the most perfect putt can miss the hole. Yes it’s annoying and frustrating but there’s not much you can do. There’s also the chance you can hit a bad putt and it can find the hole.

So my advice is to accept that successful putting can be a mystery. All you can do is learn to let go and make the best stroke you can make. And, if you stop fiddling with your putting technique you’ll increase the chances of making more putts.

And finally, no matter what the best players say, they are not always doing what they say they are.

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5 Comments

  • Lukey

    Reply Reply November 22, 2011

    Cam
    What you say above is so true because it becomes very easy to blame something (ie. going back outside the line)and then work hard to fix that perceived problem to find out the next time you play it does not work.The WOOD (works only one day) theory at it’s best.I am the perfect example putting really well over a period and then lost it for some reason.After trying this and then trying that I came to the conclusion that once in a while you will probably putt bad but not to worry about it.
    Cheers Lukey

  • Gregor

    Reply Reply November 23, 2011

    no matter what the best players say, they are not always doing what they say they are.

    I agree. They will have learned golf at such a young age, they’ve probably got no idea what they’re doing. It’s only when they try that things become difficult. Think about it. When you see kids playing they can ‘practice’ for hours and will have no idea they are learning. Even if they didn’t do something again for years, if they have done it enough at early age they would go back to the same skill set without thinking- unless of course they start thinking about it.

  • Cameron

    Reply Reply November 23, 2011

    @Lukey: I like WOOD. This is how most golfers like to play. If you can accept the fact that you will have a bad putting day every now and then you’ll be fine. We can go into panic mode and start changing everything, only to realise that it probably wasn’t worth the effort.

    How many of us have wasted years of good golfing time by stuffing around trying to fix things that probably weren’t broken?

    @Gregor: I sometimes think that really famous golfers like Woods just give BS answers to questions to feed the media. I noticed a few times during Presidents Cup that the journalist almost pleaded with the players for an angle or story – this sort of stuff makes their job easier for the journalist for sure. It also gets them off the players back.

    I remember hearing Greg Norman talking about how the commentators always go on about hitting certain side of fairways and then giving themselves angles to the pin. Norman said that most of it was garbage – they were happy to hit the fairway and most of the time they aimed for the middle of green.

  • Steady

    Reply Reply November 24, 2011

    Hi Cam,
    you said “All you can really do is hit the best putt you can and be accepting of the result.”
    I think you can go one further and say all shots.
    Accepting the result is the hardest thing to do at times especially when you get a bad bounce, hit a sprinkler head or the ball plain just runs off the green.
    Then to add to the pain you add an emotional attatchment to that shot/putt.
    Great insight and observation.
    Steady

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