Bobby Jones talked about golfers tendency to try to consider putting another game within the game--our tendency to suggest that someone would be a good, or great, player "if he could only putt." Carl the Grumbler likes to say that about me, not-so-subtly reinforcing to me the fact that I miss too many makable putts. Bobby Jones made it clear that if you want to be a good player you had better learn to be a good putter. There's no other way. In the end, matches, tournaments, and championships are won on the green. It virtually always comes down to the putter.
I'm struggling on the greens lately. Suddenly those three and four footers are lipping out, or missing the damned hole completely. Miss one short putt and it's okay. Everyone does it. Miss two in a row and the wheels start turning. For me the kiss of death is when I start changing putters and trying different strokes. That's where I'm at right now. I've used an old Bobby Grace putter, a Ping, a Wilson Staff blade like Crenshaw used--only with an insert--two other Ping putters, and my trusty--or should I say, not-so-trustee--Bullseye. And that's only in the past month.
And I do this--switching putters--despite the fact that I know "it isn't the fiddle, it's the fiddler." Putting is all about confidence. But how do you stay confident when the putts aren't dropping? That, of course, is the sixty-four thousand dollar question. Against all evidence to the contrary, good putters find a way to think about making a putt instead of trying not to miss it. Good putters are confident. They're all business. You can often see it in the way they move on the greens. It shows in their body language and in their eyes. They are too busy thinking about making the putt to consider missing it.
I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again, but my old Bullseye is coming out of the trunk. I'm going to give him another go because he's worked best over the years. Then I'm going to just knock the damned ball in the hole. If it misses, I'll just try again. It's not like you have any choice--that is unless your opponent is kind enough to tell you to pick it up.
Tony Lema also once said, "The less said about the putter, the better." Just keep saying to yourself, "I'm a good putter, I'm a good putter..." And try to always think about all those putts you've made, and not the ones you missed. Putting is a mystery too deep for most of us. That's why I think we just need to stand over it, focus on making it, and let it go. In the end, missing a short putt won't kill you. It happens to the best of them--just not as often as it seems to be happening to me.