Welcome to The Putting Issue, your guide to getting better on the greens and breaking your handicap without breaking the bank.
Inside you’ll find everything you need to get to work on the most important aspect of the game, the real shot-saver on your scorecard.
Legendary golf writer Peter Dobereiner once said, “Half of golf is fun; the other half is putting.”
While relatable to many, his words aren’t entirely true. Putting really is what you make of it, or try to make of it.
“I’ve heard people say putting is 50 percent technique and 50 percent mental,” says Hall of Famer Chi Chi Rodriguez. “I really believe it is 50 percent technique and 90 percent positive thinking, see, but that adds up to 140 percent, which is why nobody is 100 percent sure how to putt.”
The first step to taking the mystery out of putting, according to Jamie Donaldson, Europe’s first AimPoint Putting coach who’s taught Adam Scott, Lydia Ko and Justin Rose, is realising the perceived gulf in ability between amateurs and professionals isn’t what it seems.
“The average birdie putt distance on tour is 17.5 feet,” Donaldson says. “The world’s best are converting just 16 per cent of those. Move it back to 20 feet and it drops to 14 per cent.”
According to statistical analysis experts www.shotstohole.com, tour players make 10-foot putts only 38 percent of the time, while from 30 feet, guys like Jason Day and Jordan Spieth can expect to make only 3 percent.
They’re hardly impressive numbers. Take a moment to think about what you would make over the same distances… not that terrible, right? Now stop being so hard on yourself.
At the amateur level, a scratch marker will make 50 percent of their putts from seven feet, while a 90-shooter drains only 50 percent from five feet. However, a scratch player makes a quarter of their 14-foot putts, while a 90-shooter makes the equivalent from eight feet.
When it comes to the dreaded ‘snake’, a scratch player three-putts a quarter of their attempts from 72 feet, while a 90-shooter has a one-in-four chance of three-putting from 25 feet.
What does all this mean for you?
“It means missing closer and managing speed better has more benefit than holing or practising short putts,” says Donaldson, whose AimPoint Express method is featured on page 106.
This scribe put the AimPoint Express system to the test recently under the watchful eye of Donaldson and went from cynic to a serial “how many fingers does this break?” playing partner.
And that’s what we hope you find in this issue, too – a fix that works for YOU.
As the great Jack Nicklaus has long testified, “No matter your scoring goals, you can attain them faster by improving your putting.”
Now if you would excuse me, I have a 10-footer to attend to.
6 Players I’d Like To Stand Over A Breaking 5-Footer For My Life
1. Tiger Woods
In your life have you seen a better clutch putter?
2. Bobby Jones
With 13 Majors in 20 attempts, he loved a putt really worth something.
3. Ben Crenshaw
Loved a slippery green. During his 1995 Masters triumph, “Gentle Ben” either one-putted or two-putted all 72 greens.
4. Inbee Park
Is there a more reliable putting stroke in world golf right now? (The answer is ‘no’.)
5. Jason Day
At the time of writing, hadn’t missed a putt inside five feet all season on the US PGA Tour. Ridiculously good.
6. My Mum
Not a great putter, but at least I know she’d care.