Thursday, 23 April 2015

If You Can Be Good At Only One Thing, What Should It Be?

The long ball is sexy. Everybody wants to hit it long, or at least longer. Equipment manufacturers have made a fortune out of this desire. But, if you could choose to be good at one part of the game, what should it be?

The guys who make the most money on the tour, week in and week out, are not the bombers. Take a look at the consistent money makers, like last week's champion, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, and especially the new sensation, Jordan Spieth. They are definitely not short knockers, but they are definitely not power players. Yet, somehow they are constantly in the money and showing no sign of being over-run by the bombers. Other than Kuchar, they all have majors, and they have some of the healthiest bank accounts, all playing a game that has supposedly become all about power.

What is it they have? What is their secret? They know how to score. They play their own game, They have great short games, deadly from a hundred yards and in, and they can putt. The short game is not glamorous to those who don't really understand the game, but the short game is where the money is. If you can chip and putt, and otherwise manage to keep the ball in play, you are going to be a match for pretty much anyone. It may not be as exciting as hitting three hundred and thirty yard drives, but surely the sound of the ball rattling around in the cup is about as good as it gets. In fact, I have thought about recording that sound and playing it over and over to myself as I sleep.

If you can be good at one thing, make it putting. To those who don't understand the game, putting may not be as cool, or as glamorous, as belting long drives into the wild blue yonder. But making a key putt is really about as exciting as it gets. It's what really separates the men from the boys. In fact, the only way to succeed is to make the putt. It always comes down to the putt. So, if you want to be a better player, spend your time on and around the putting surface. 

Raymond Floyd said the most important shot in golf is the six foot putt. He is absolutely right. Remember when Tiger virtually never missed a six footer? I spent many years bemoaning the fact that I so often missed the five or six footers that might have made my average round a good one, or my good round a great one. But, all that time, I spent little or no time practising those short putts. This year, I intend to make a change. I'm not going to worry so much about having the perfect golf swing. I'm going to become the best damned putter I can be. 

I'm not going to resent the fact that putting is so important. I'm going to embrace it. I'm going to try to change my attitude and learn to love putting. Maybe then, it might just love me back.