Part 3: Managing the Greens for Putting
Greens are not you’re your friends and proper greens management requires a proper mindset and commitment to building skills over time. In this blog I’ll address proper attitude, getting on the green and how to build your putt routine. The green is where it all comes together.
“Putting is a fascinating, aggravating, wonderful, terrible and almost incomprehensible part of the game of golf”
– Arnold Palmer
Setting Proper Expectations
The first step in golf is to set your expectations. If you are not a pro do not expect to putt like a pro. Yes, you will make easy and hard putts, but you are not at the same level as a pro putter so you should not have the same expectations. This is why you need to understand your putts per round and putts per hole averages. Keep track of your putts as a part of your game and focus on improvement of your skills. If you average 40 putts per round, then focus on skills to get to 38 putts per round, then 36 and so on. You should commit to improve, but play to your level and enjoy your friends and the game.
Getting on the Green
Consistently getting to the green in ideal putting position has three key elements; having a plan for each hole, aiming for the pin and have putting skills nailed for < 10’ putts.
From the tee box, you need plan your shots to avoid hazards and maximize your approach and lie on the green. Just getting to the green and seeing what happens in not good enough. Too many golfers just try to get to the green and do not focus on getting close to the pin. Use your skills to properly position your next shot, approach the green and eventually your putt.
Next, focus on getting as close to the pin as possible on your approach shot. Being on the green with 20, 40 or 60-foot putts does not cut it. Ideally, being within 6 – 10 feet for your 1st putt. Remember, there is less than 50% chance of making putts over 10’, even for pros. Spend time building chipping skills to acquire this ability.
Finally, have your putting skills in place for 10’ putts and definitely for 3 footers. The 3 foot putting drill helps with this skill. You will see lots of 3’ putts so you need be able to do this easily.
“If you can’t putt and make three footers, you are going to struggle with everything else”
– Becky Dengler, LPGA Master Golf Teaching Professional
Building your Proper Putting Routine
This is an absolute must for good golf and everyone has one whether they realize it or not. Your routine is a set a steps you go through to make a putt including your tempo or timing. I outlined the steps in making a putt in my last blog and this is a basis for putt routines. Reading the green, aiming the putt, setting your stance and grip, taking a breath, making a final putt preview and making the stroke are key elements of this routine.
What I need to add is the speed or tempo of this process that works for you. You need to go through this process and see what works and does not work for you and put it in your routine at your pace. As an example of how important this is; I was watching a tournament and a pro was making birdie after birdie to be in leading position. You can watch the process and timing and see how this was nailed down. Then somehow on 18 he had a 3 foot putt and his tempo increased – you could see it. He didn’t follow his routine and rushed the putt and ended up 3 putting from 3 feet to go from 1st place to 5th. Amazing! You need to develop your routine, tempo and skills to be a great putter.
“… they can hold that consistent tempo and rhythm from the 1st tee to the last green ”
– Mike Shannon, Top 50 Greatest Teachers, Golf Digest
Stick with it to Improve
To be a better golfer and putter you need to commit to an attitude of constant improvement. In all my research and observations I see many golfers start and stop the improvement process. They end up doing the same thing year after year with no noticeable improvement. Here are a few things to do to get going and stick with to improve your putting.
First, find out where you are at putting-wise. Get into the habit of recording your 1st putt length and number putts for each hole. From here determine your putts per round and putts per hole for your game. Do this for every round.
“You have to be able to take the statistics of your game first to understand what your weaknesses may or may not be”
– John Hughes, Top Rated Golf Instructor
Next, develop a practice routine for putting and chipping. Almost no one practices putting! If golfers practice, it is on the driving range. You need to make time for swing, chip and putt skills in your practice routines.
One way to keep your skills up comes from Hank Haney. He advocates 100 swings a day. If you can’t do 100, do 50. If you can’t do 50, do 25. I’d like to update that to do swings, chips, and putts every day. Start with 10-15 of each, then build up as you can. This allows you to keep your mental skills in place as well as your muscles trained.
Thank you for reading this 3 blog series on improving putting. My goal is to help golfers play better, score lower, have more fun and play more golf!
Dave ‘No 3 Putts” Perry
Dave ‘No 3 Putts” Perry