Well I thought I’d share my experience from my first US Open Qualifier I played in. Sadly, I did not make it on to the next round. I attribute this to 2 things, putting and ball striking. Putting was really 90% of it though.
Contrary to what Eric says about putting stats of amateurs vs pros, putting was the single biggest factor affecting scores in this qualifier across all players. What I have come to see is that there are really 2 worlds of putting, those that putt on greens 10ish or lower and those at 11 or higher. I typically play courses that run their greens 8 or 9, and I thought that it prepared me very well for what I’d expect. Boy was I WAY off. The greens I played started around an 11 according to the starter, he was lying, but by the end of the day these had to be running at 14 or something. To think of the slope of them, think of Augusta. And they put pins on the edge of ridges, so that if you missed a putt by 1ft normally, this course you miss it by 30ft because it ran down the hill and off the green, 1 freaking foot! I prolly 3 putted like 10 times it felt like. Yes I practiced but the practice greens and the practice round had slower greens by far, its crazy. Those that normally play these fast greens were far more prepared than I.
To ball striking, it felt like I didn’t hit the ball well, but I was hitting most fairways and greens anyway because I played my misses well. But it would’ve really helped to put the ball a little closer to the hole more often. You could tell the difference between the guys who had good ball striking from the ones that didn’t.
Overall, it was a great experience. The course was fantastic in shape and beauty!! Stunning views and multi-million dollar homes overlooking the course. But scoring was hard. The winner wasn’t the one who put the ball on the green more, it was the guy who knows how to putt on beyond fast greens.
To move to this next level, I have to really find a course that has fast greens and practice there. Watch my spin on short game (even though I did great during my round) and just make sure I understand how true putts follow the greens. Other than that, its being a little more consistent and making sure my misses are still in play.