Even the very best couldn’t master this art.
One of the all-time great quotes in golf came from Puerto Rican legend Chi Chi Rodriguez.
When asked one day what the secret to putting was, the colourful Hall-of-Famer responded with: “I’ve heard people say putting is 50 percent technique and 50 percent mental. 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.”
As nonsensical as his reply came across, there’s an element of truth to his analysis.
The truth is, nobody has ever really mastered the fine art of putting. Sure, there have been players who have come close. ‘The Boss of Moss’ Loren Roberts was handy – and had a great visual tip for those struggling with the craft: “Your puttershaft is a pencil, and all you’re trying to do is draw a line on the green to your target.”
After winning 13 Majors in 20 attempts, ball-striking legend Bobby Jones perhaps never got enough credit for the work he did on the greens wielding his famous Calamity Jane.
Some will argue nobody got closer to putting perfection than Brad Faxon did in 2000, still statistically the greatest putting season ever when he averaged a little more than 1.7 putts per green.
Then, of course, there’s Ben Crenshaw. ‘Gentle Ben’ didn’t three-putt a single green at Augusta en route to winning the green jacket in 1995 and often made the putting stroke look effortless.
Yet for most, the argument of who’s the greatest with the flatstick boils down to two – Jack or Tiger. Both masters of making putts when it mattered, both perfectionists in their preparation and, critically, both never completely satisfied with their output.
“When you lip out several putts in a row, you should never think that means that you’re putting well,” Nicklaus says. “When you’re putting well, the only question is what part of the hole it’s going to fall in, not if it’s going in.”
“The more I examine putting, the more fascinating it becomes,” Woods once told Golf Digest. “That’s why I practise it so much. There always will be room for improvement. The goal, even if it isn’t realistic, is to putt my very best every day.”
And it’s what you should be aiming for, too. Not to be the best putter at your club. Not even to be the best putter in your family. Rather, be the best putter you can be.
Inside this issue, we’ve packaged together a small guide to get you on your way, from a new theory on The Lost Art of Putting, to all the latest and greatest putters available in 2019. Have you actually considered whether you are a blade or mallet person?
We’ve also included some fantastic tips from some of the best players in the world on the greens, including our own Cameron Smith. But it will be all for nothing unless you put it into practice and find out what works best for you.
It’s time to stop wasting holes after you’ve done all the hard work. Your scorecard doesn’t allow room to describe that booming tee shot or fantastic approach. It does, however, provide space for a low number. And that only comes after the putt drops.
“A good player who is a great putter is a match for any golfer. A great hitter who cannot putt is a match for no one,” said Scottish professional Ben Sayers.
Don’t be the latter all your life!