We never seem to run out of reasons to love our great game, and now we have another one.
It’s so mysterious.
Maybe you don’t like it when a facet of your game deserts you, but doesn’t that keep you coming back for more? Wouldn’t it be boring if you could count on the same things happening in every round?
So many of us love a good mystery on TV or in the movies. And then there’s golf, where every time you tee it up is a new adventure in “What could happen today?” It’s like watching the same characters do the same things but get different results.
And nowhere is this more evident than on the green. There are lots of good ball-strikers out there, but how many people are truly excellent putters?
Be honest now: How many people in your golf circle are considered great with the short stick? I’d be surprised if it’s more than 10%.
I look back at all the people I’ve ever played with regularly, and I can’t think of more than a handful whose putting prowess stood out. Even those who roll it well miss a few short ones here and there and sometimes complain that their stroke doesn’t feel right.
Just look at what Jordan Spieth was saying Sunday after the Valero Texas Open. Spieth is considered one of the best putters on the PGA Tour. He used to be automatic from anywhere inside 10 feet. His stroke was pure.
He shot 67 in the final round at TPC San Antonio and was 5 under par for the tournament. That’s good.
But he also was dead last in Strokes Gained: Putting for the final round AND the entire tournament.
Last. Jordan Spieth.
He estimated that he missed nine putts inside 6 feet in four days. Back when he was winning majors, he didn’t miss nine shorties in four months.
“Worst I’ve ever putted in a professional event,” he said.
Predictably, the winner’s putting was one of the best aspects of his game. J.J. Spaun made a slight adjustment in his putting grip and finished 17th in putting overall to earn his first title in 147 career starts.
So what can we mere mortals take from these two takes on putting?
Mainly, we need to appreciate just how hard it is to putt consistently well. Many of us leave far more strokes on the greens than we do in the fairway or especially on the tee.
My most recent round is the perfect example. I didn’t strike the ball that poorly, but I missed two birdie putts inside 10 feet and misfired on several short par putts, too. I easily could have scored five shots better.
One of my barometers of how well I played is how many feet of putts I made and how many makeable putts I missed. You have to be careful about your definition of “makeable.”
Not even the pros make every 15- or 20-footer they look at, but they make at least a few. And they’re solid inside 10 feet and rarely three-putt. How many of us can say that?
So watch what the pros do on those slick greens at Augusta National. Learn from it. And the next time you’re at the driving range, spend as much time on the putting green as you do beating balls. Don’t just hit a large bucket and call it a day. Hit at least that many putts, especially short putts.
Because if you don’t work on your putting, your poor performance on the greens won’t be a mystery at all.