Golf Column: Dine with good putters

Ron Parish golf column 300x158 Golf Column: Dine with good puttersBy Ron Parish, PGA Director of Golf, Lone Tree Golf Course

For starters, this insight is not all my own, I remember an article in a golf magazine 30+ years ago about dining with good putters, and I have picked up a couple of tips here and there and have added to it across the years, but I wanted to pass the gist of it on because I think you will find it worthwhile. Essentially, the idea is, if you know a good putter or two, hang out with them. Practice putting with them. Play a round with them and watch them on the putting green. Continue to hang with them and do as they do. You will most likely find some common characteristics about good putters; from my dining, some of these characteristics are…..

  • Shooter Mentality. Good putters are like good shooters in basketball. A good shooter doesn’t care about what happened on the last putt, they know they can make it and so they want the ball. If they missed the last shot, they feel like they are over due to make it and so their next shot is more likely to go in. A good putter is the same way, they are confident that they are going to “make it”. This is the strength of their game. They want to have a clutch putt.

  • Distinctively and uniquely see the putt. Good putters see the ball precisely how they want to hit it before they hit it. They make that decision before they are set up over the ball. They decide on the speed and the line and the amount of break. Usually they see it or visualize it one of two ways:

    • Apex putting. They pick the speed that they want to hit it and then they see the apex of the putt (the spot where the ball breaks away from). They putt to that spot and then let the ball role and break out towards the hole.

    • Complete Line putting. Again speed is picked which determines the amount of break to play, but these golfers visualize a line along the break the entire length of the putt to the hole (and into it). Often, they will use their imagination and see the line in a certain color, say purple or neon green, in their minds eye. This distinctive image helps them be clear about what they want to do. Visualizing like this is just like all other parts of your game, taking a little practice to keep it sharp.

    • Additionally: On short putts, SEE the ball hit something in the hole. Often good putters see the ball hitting something specific in the hole like a smudge of mud on the cup liner, or a fleck of chipped paint, or possibly a certain blade of grass.

  • They don’t worry. Good putters don’t worry about the consequences. This is huge. All they care about is hitting the putt the way they want to hit it, from there; good putters accept the results, whatever they are. If it goes in great, if it doesn’t go in, as long as they hit it the way they wanted to they are good with it.

  • They don’t beat themselves up. Again, they give the putt the best chance possible but good putters have a wisdom and confidence to know that they are going to make many more putts then they are going to miss. So on the occasion that they miss one, they are their own best friend and don’t beat themselves up.

  • Selective memory. Similar to the shooter mentality, what do you hear good putters remember and talk about? They talk about the putts they make not the ones they miss. They attach their emotion to the positive putts or the ones they make. What does this do? If all you remember are the putts you make, then you are building your confidence. If all you remember are the ones you miss, well you are only going to tear down your confidence.

  • Love putting. Finally, and probably most importantly, good putters love to putt. How many of you dread putting?? You can often find good putters on the putting green. I had a buddy on my college golf team, Willie Williams, who was the best putter on the team. One time I played 9 holes with Willie who was also known for his mean hook (balata balls) and he didn’t hit one green in regulation and he shot even par. He made everything. While others were out beating buckets, Willie had his “Walkman” on (Yes, Coach Ron went to college in the 80’s) and he would be putting away and you could tell, Willie was enjoying himself. He was having fun. He wasn’t cringing, grinding, or necessarily trying to develop perfect fundamentals. He just loved to putt. Everything he was doing as he practiced was positive and you could just see it. He was good at it and enjoyed it. He would hit three balls from the same spot and role one soft, one medium, one firm speed; then move on to the next hole. He wouldn’t think about it too much, he would just work his way around the putting green and stay familiar with his stroke and keep the feel. He often could be found putting in a game with other golfers for hours at a time. How about you? Where do you spend your time?

I hope some of these insights help your putting and maybe even provided you a little vicarious dining. Putting in a lot of ways is like an art form and more about how you think about it then anything else. Hang out with some golfers you know who are good putters and you most likely will find some positive pointers like the above listed ones that you can pick up on. Good luck and have some fun with it.

Thank you for all you do for Golf and for Lone Tree Golf Course and Event Center.

If you are interested in reviewing other articles from Coach Ron go to www.lonetreegolfcourse.com under “The Course” tab.

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