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Thursday, 21 July 2016

Touch is the Key to Good Putting

Putting is such an important part of the game.  When you're holing putts you are scoring.  In fact, Raymond Floyd believed that the most important shot in golf was the six foot putt.  

Dave Pelz studied the pros and found that they made fifty percent of their putts from six feet.  That might have been true.  But you can bet the leaders in any tournament from week to week are making the six footers at a much higher percentage.  Unless you are holing out, or chipping it in, every good hole ends with a putt.  It's the most important club in the bag.

I like what Bobby Jones had to say about putting.  Sometimes we are inclined to regard putting as more of a science than an art; thinking that we are able to be more precise than we actually can be.  Putting greens are not a perfect surface--at least most of the greens we amateurs putt on aren't.  There is a degree of luck involved in putting--just like the rest of the game.  A ball can hit an imperfection in the green that you might not even see and be deflected off line.  The same imperfection might also deflect a putt on line.  Concerning the best way to putt, Bobby wrote in his book Golf is my Game:

    "In putting, and in chipping too, it is important that the backswing should be long enough.  Nothing can be worse around the greens than a short, snatching stroke.  I have had some of the real masters of the short game tell me, and I heartily agree, that it is most helpful to swing back a little farther than needed on the first few chips or putts of any round.  In this way they can be certain of obtaining that feeling of a smoothly-floating club so necessary for a delicate touch.
     Actually, this touch is the key to good putting.  Very few putts of any length are dead straight, so that no line is right except for one speed; and the player who tries to straighten even the shortest putts by charging the hole will miss a lot of those coming back.
      I will guarantee that more putts under twenty feet--the kind you like to hole--will go in, and three-putt greens will pop up less often, if the player will forget about the precise alignment of his putter and learn to adjust his touch so that he may always keep his ball above the hole and always reach the hole with a dying ball.  A ball dying on a slope above the hole often topples in, and always stops close; nothing is more disheartening than to watch a ball barely miss the lower side of the hole and then curl down the slope some five or six feet.  And remember, even on the short putts, that the hole is of full size for the touch putter, while it presents only an inch or so for the charger who has to hit the exact centre of the cup.
     I like to think of putting as very much like rolling a golf ball from my hand across a green towards a hole.  I know I should then not worry too much about the backswing of my arm.  I think it would instinctively take care of itself.  So in putting, I don't like to worry too much about the alignment of my putter at address or about my backswing, except that it be long enough.  The picture I want uppermost in my mind is of the line I want the ball to travel on, and of how hard I want to hit it."

Like the rest of the game, there are many ways to putt--just as there are many ways to swing the club. But in putting, it's touch that counts.