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Kept Stats for a Round and Found Out I Am Apparently a Horrible Putter. Seeking Advice.


ZANDER1994
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So I’ve recently started golfing a lot with one of my girlfriend’s friend’s boyfriend who is a fantastic golfer. He plays off of 3 and played in college. I am a comparably terrible golfer playing off of 15 but I like the guy and we have a lot of fun. The last time we were at the bar I was asking him for advice and he said he really wanted to track my stats for a round to see what the issue was. 
 

Well today we played and did just that. Tracked fairways in regulation for me on the card, GIR and three putts. When the round was over we counted them up and he turned to me and said “what the actual f*ck man you hit 10 GIR, didn’t lose a single ball and still shot a 90”. 

Turns out I three putt HALF the time. I feel utterly stupid. I almost never practice putting because I thought naturally it is practice that kind of just takes care of itself the more you play. Apparently not!

So starting this week I am going to ditch the range and solely focus on putting. I live across from a golf course I practice at during lunch nearly every other day. Wondering here what sort of advice you guys would give me to get my putting up to the rest of my game as quickly as possible? How often do you guys practice putting?? 

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9 minutes ago, ZANDER1994 said:

. Wondering here what sort of advice you guys would give me to get my putting up to the rest of my game as quickly as possible? How often do you guys practice putting?? 

Pretty hard to imagine that you hadn't worked this out before.:-) If by HALF you mean you had nine 3 putts, that's obviously appalling. If you really believe your handicap is 15, you should know this.

Are you leaving your first putts from 20 feet or 30 feet a long way from the hole? Are you missing 2 footers? You need to tell us whether it's speed or accuracy you're lacking. If you're frequently outside 3 feet from, say, 20 feet away, that's a speed problem. If your 2 footers are missing without touching the hole, that's probably another issue.

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59 minutes ago, ZANDER1994 said:

So I’ve recently started golfing a lot with one of my girlfriend’s friend’s boyfriend who is a fantastic golfer. He plays off of 3 and played in college. I am a comparably terrible golfer playing off of 15 but I like the guy and we have a lot of fun. The last time we were at the bar I was asking him for advice and he said he really wanted to track my stats for a round to see what the issue was. 
 

Well today we played and did just that. Tracked fairways in regulation for me on the card, GIR and three putts. When the round was over we counted them up and he turned to me and said “what the actual f*ck man you hit 10 GIR, didn’t lose a single ball and still shot a 90”. 

Turns out I three putt HALF the time. I feel utterly stupid. I almost never practice putting because I thought naturally it is practice that kind of just takes care of itself the more you play. Apparently not!

So starting this week I am going to ditch the range and solely focus on putting. I live across from a golf course I practice at during lunch nearly every other day. Wondering here what sort of advice you guys would give me to get my putting up to the rest of my game as quickly as possible? How often do you guys practice putting?? 

I hardly ever practice putting. When I do, I focus mostly on a solid strike and start line. So I suppose you can say I mostly just practice “bead,” and no so much read and speed. Why? What little putting practice I do, I do at home on a mat. Hard to practice read and speed at home on a 15’ putting strip, so I focus on bead. Read and speed work seems to be a putting green at the course kind of practice, and I virtually never go to the course unless I am playing (launch monitor at home). 

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I'm a higher handicap than you are, but my Arccos app tells me that I 3-putt about 3 holes per round.  I lose more Strokes Gained in driving and approach than putting, so I don't practice putting that often.

Anyway, here's a helpful thread:

 

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(edited)
1 hour ago, Shorty said:

Pretty hard to imagine that you hadn't worked this out before.:-) If by HALF you mean you had nine 3 putts, that's obviously appalling. If you really believe your handicap is 15, you should know this.

Are you leaving your first putts from 20 feet or 30 feet a long way from the hole? Are you missing 2 footers? You need to tell us whether it's speed or accuracy you're lacking. If you're frequently outside 3 feet from, say, 20 feet away, that's a speed problem. If your 2 footers are missing without touching the hole, that's probably another issue.

So the way I play golf is just “get it on the green”. I do not attack pins. If I get lucky a few times and leave the ball within 8ft, that’s when I shoot mid 80s. When I don’t get many lucky short putts to convert on, I pretty much shoot 90 on the nose every time. I’ve known this for a long time but I never really sat down and did stats so it never occurred to me how hopelessly reliant I am on the random chance I put it within 8ft. 
 

Looking back on today, I figure I three putted every single putt that was 15ft or further out. I feel relatively comfortable within 3ft unless there is a massive break. It’s just getting that initial putt *within* 3ft that is hard for me. I leave it equally long as I do short, left or right. I think I am just terrible at reading greens in general. 

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10 minutes ago, ZANDER1994 said:

So the way I play golf is just “get it on the green”. I do not attack pins. If I get lucky a few times and leave the ball within 8ft, that’s when I shoot mid 80s. When I don’t get many lucky short putts to convert on, I pretty much shoot 90 on the nose every time. I’ve known this for a long time but I never really sat down and did stats so it never occurred to me how hopelessly reliant I am on the random chance I put it within 8ft. 
 

Looking back on today, I figure I three putted every single putt that was 15ft or further out. I feel relatively comfortable within 3ft unless there is a massive break. It’s just getting that initial putt *within* 3ft that is hard for me. I leave it equally long as I do short, left or right. I think I am just terrible at reading greens in general. 

First, not attacking pins: you are very smart to play this way.  You're going to take fewer strokes to get down even with your current putting from on the green than you will from off of it.  Sometimes I'll hit a green and a friend will remind me "hey Mike, the pin is over there (points away from my ball)," and I'll reply "yes, but so is that bunker / water / etc."

Practice some six footers.  Set some markers around the cup 6' out;  I like to put 12 coins down like the numbers on an analog clock.  Then I try to make a putt from each and see how many putts it takes me.  24 is a good score here, 30 isn't bad at the level you and I are.  Treat each putt seriously:  look at the break, think about whether it's uphill or downhill, that sort of thing.

If there's a relatively flat portion of the putting green (not carpet at home for this one), see if you can calibrate what it takes to send the ball 10', 20', 30'.  Note I didn't say "area with a cup" - putting two tees in the ground 10' apart and seeing what it takes to putt between them is great.  I do this as a warm-up before every round, too.  Then again with 20' and 30'.  Or, if you're like me and cannot figure out what 10' or 20' is by looking (I don't trust my eyes anyway), do this at four full steps, then again at seven and ten.  

As for reading greens:  your eyes can deceive you.  Don't trust them.  Instead, is there an AimPoint class near you?  I took a very early version of this (and I should take a more recent one, or a refresher) and I learned why greens break.  

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26 minutes ago, ZANDER1994 said:

It’s just getting that initial putt *within* 3ft that is hard for me. I leave it equally long as I do short, left or right. I think I am just terrible at reading greens in general. 

Basic green reading is not a hard skill to learn - especially if you play on courses  that have relatively flat greens. You will probably find that many of your putts  break TWICE as much as you think they do. Plan to "die the ball into the hole" - you'll make more longer putts than trying to hit it 14 inches past the hole or whatever some people suggest. On normal greens that are reasonable speed, the idea of 3 putting from inside 25 feet shouldn't even cross your mind. 

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@Shindig mentioned Aimpoint and I agree that will help a lot.  Last year I three-putted roughly 5 holes per round on average. Not 9 as you counted but still felt I was losing more stoked than was reasonable.  I took Aimpoint in April and have much more confidence in my putting.  I still get a couple 3-putts per round but they are when my 1st Putt is really long.

I agree with the 65-20-15 practice over time but if you want to fix a weakness I see no problem increasing you time putting for a while. Just do not ignore the other parts of the game altogether. You do not want yo lose those parts that are working. And once you get more proficient at putting you can return to the 65-20-15 practice routine.

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11 hours ago, ZANDER1994 said:

Wondering here what sort of advice you guys would give me

First off, every golfer will 3 putt, but in your case you indicate it is happening often and it's 
good that you have recognized this.

I suggest first practice short straight putts (around 5-7 ft) to build your confidence.
A good putt will end up within 6 inches of the hole if not made.
You can practice indoor or outdoor, with the use of several dimes.
Lay the dimes about two feet increments on the line of the putt for visual targets.
I like using a laser light indoors which give me a good visual of the ball rolling towards the target.

Then after you gain confidence, you should learn to control the speed/distance of the putt.
Again, practice (5-7 ft) around the entire hole on a putting green with slope/break.

Then practice longer putts (25ft plus) and try to control the distance where you are achieving the putts
to stop about 5 feet or less from the target. 

My goal is to have putts stop less than 2 feet past the hole on every putt if I do not make them.
 

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No doubt the first thing you will want to work on with putting is distance control.  If you get that right, you will rarely find yourself in a position where you have to make a knee knocker of a second putt, with a high potential for three putts.  Reading greens is a mixture of art and science.  Some people can look at a green and just see where they need to start the ball.  Others need to evaluate every factor almost "scientifically".  But that is something you will improve with time and playing more golf.

A possible alternative if you have the space and potentially money, is to build a practice green in your back yard.  Will mean a lot of work to build and more importantly maintain it, but it can truly make a big difference if you wind up practicing on it regularly

GettyImages-1242403478.jpg

Want to sink more putts without ever leaving home? Make your own backyard putting green with these tips from a superintendent.

 

1573314253835.jpeg

For homeowners desiring to pack more golf into their lives—not add a chore—a synthetic-turf green is the way to go.

 

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20 hours ago, Shindig said:

For the longer ones, I consider it a success if I can hit it to 20% of the remaining distance (e.g., 30' to 6') and a big success if I get it to within 10% (e.g., 30' to 3').

That's Ok, but not a very ambitious goal at all.

It should be pretty straightforward to get within 10%. 30 ft is a typical distance for a first putt (even for the pros), and you should hardly ever 3-putt those, so the key is to be within 3 ft (or 10%). Put it another way, when you have a cross-country (or cross green) putt of 90 ft, a decent result is to be around 6ft, or 9ft if you want, so 10%.  20% puts you. way too far out.

To the OP, I was the worst putter in the world when I started. It took me almost 4 years of playing 9 holes after work on Fridays to get my first par, because I was on very few greens (1 or maybe 2 at most per 9), but because I was 3-putting from everywhere. I fixed this by practicing dialing in the speed correctly. And that also means hitting the ball reliably with the center of the face. Then hone yours skills on reading greens, but the most important part remains controlling the speed.

FWIW, some 15 years after I made that first par, putting is the strength of my game and I only 3-putt about 2% of the holes according to my stats (in GolfPad), or about 1 hole every 3 rounds, on average.  You too can do it: it's much easier than drastically improving one's long game!

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20 hours ago, ZANDER1994 said:

So the way I play golf is just “get it on the green”. I do not attack pins. If I get lucky a few times and leave the ball within 8ft, that’s when I shoot mid 80s. When I don’t get many lucky short putts to convert on, I pretty much shoot 90 on the nose every time. I’ve known this for a long time but I never really sat down and did stats so it never occurred to me how hopelessly reliant I am on the random chance I put it within 8ft. 
 

Looking back on today, I figure I three putted every single putt that was 15ft or further out. I feel relatively comfortable within 3ft unless there is a massive break. It’s just getting that initial putt *within* 3ft that is hard for me. I leave it equally long as I do short, left or right. I think I am just terrible at reading greens in general. 

Take the putter back slower.

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  • 2 weeks later...
(edited)

So guys I have an update. For the past week and a half I have gone to the putting green every day and practiced my putting and chipping for a little over an hour. I hit a bucket twice in that time. Today I shot my new personal best of an 81 at a par 71 course from the whites (69.4/129).  
 

Today’s stats:

FIR: 7/13 

GIR: 11/18

1 putts: 5

2 putts: 10

3 putts: 3

 

Other takeaways today:

- Five 1-putts and only three 3-putts for me is excellent. I would attribute this to making all of my 2-3 foot putts this round except for one on the back. That said, my chipping was relatively good today, setting up roughly five 1-putt opportunities all of which I converted on. 

- I still did not make a single putt today outside three feet. Realistically I think this should happen once or twice a round so I think there is still work to be done on my putting.

- Despite hitting only 7/13 fairways I managed to hit 11 greens. I hit driver 11 times today. 10 of which landed 280 yards or more from the tees but 4 of which did not hit fairway. 3 drives put me in the deep rough or woods. 1 ball was lost today. This leads me to believe my mid-short iron parts of my game are strengths, driving is so-so, chipping is so-so and putting is still poor to average. 

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20 minutes ago, ZANDER1994 said:

So guys I have an update. For the past week and a half I have gone to the putting green every day and practiced my putting and chipping for a little over an hour. I hit a bucket twice in that time. Today I shot my new personal best of an 81 at a par 71 course from the whites (69.4/129).  
 

Today’s stats:

FIR: 7/13 

GIR: 11/18

1 putts: 5

2 putts: 10

3 putts: 3

 

My takeaways from this:

- Five 1-putts and only three 3-putts for me is excellent. I would attribute this to making all of my 2-3 foot putts this round except for one on the back. That said, my chipping was relatively good today, setting up roughly five 1-putt opportunities all of which I converted on. 

- I still did not make a single putt today outside three feet. Realistically I think this should happen once or twice a round so I think there is still work to be done on my putting.

- Despite hitting only 7/13 fairways I managed to hit 11 greens. I hit driver 11 times today. 10 of which landed 280 yards of more from the tees but 4 of which did not hit fairway. 3 drives put me in the deep rough or woods. 

Did you hit your bad putts short or long, high or low?

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41 minutes ago, ZANDER1994 said:

- Despite hitting only 7/13 fairways I managed to hit 11 greens. I hit driver 11 times today. 10 of which landed 280 yards or more from the tees but 4 of which did not hit fairway. 3 drives put me in the deep rough or woods. 1 ball was lost today. This leads me to believe my mid-short iron parts of my game are strengths, driving is so-so, chipping is so-so and putting is still poor to average. 

I think there's a way to create a Game Golf account without owning the device.  You can then recreate your round in their system (if you're like me and can still remember shot-by-shot a few hours later), and get a "strokes gained" analysis.    If you hit 11 greens, there's a good chance that yes, short and mid irons are a strength of your game (approach shots in general are one of mine, and my tee shots don't go anywhere near as far as yours do, not even on holiday).  Of course, one round is a small sample size.

Also, good on you for all the practice you're doing.  Consider participating in this site's "5 minutes a day [minimum]" challenge.  It's a good way to keep with the practice and improving.  

For making longer putts... consider doing one of my favorite drills.  After some warm-up, set up 12 markers on a practice green 5-6' from the cup, roughly equally spaced, like the numbers on an analog clock.  Putt from each in turn;  when you make a putt from a marker, pick it up.  If you miss, go to the next marker (but leave the marker you just missed from in place).  Count how many total putts it takes you to do this.

Golfers who shoot in the low 90s (which is probably around the putting skill you and I have) average making about 50% of their 5-foot putts and just under 40% of their 6-foot putts.  So, from 5', taking 24 putts to finish would be good for that level, and 30 putts from 6'.   Obviously, we want to improve those numbers, but recognize there's a ceiling:  scratch golfers tend to make about two-thirds of their 5' attempts and about 55% of their 6', so expecting to get 5' under 18 or 6' under 22 would be a stretch (unless your putting becomes an outsized edge... in which case, you're spent too much time practicing putting, go hit some drivers and irons).

(These average numbers from that distance are from Every Shot Counts, page 55, if anyone wants to fact check me)

What should that drill help you with:  if you can make 1-2 more per round from outside 3', even if it's just from 5-6', you'll improve a bit, probably in the form of turning a 3-putt into a 2-putt somewhere.  

Lastly, next time you play that same course:  consider your tee shots.  The three shots that went beyond missing the fairway and ended up in trouble (woods / lost ball), check if there's a better place to aim or miss on that hole to keep your driver shot in play.  If there isn't, that's when you want to move down to a lower club.

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2 hours ago, colin007 said:

Did you hit your bad putts short or long, high or low?

I would say it’s about 50/50 in terms of too long or too short. Usually I’m pretty on line - it’s mainly distance control. Downhill putts are especially hard for me to judge. 
 

I am staring at my putter more wondering if maybe it is time for a change. I have had the same box set Maxfli putter for almost 20 years. The grip is all worn down and you can see where I strike it on the face. I’ve never tried another putter so maybe I should try something that gives me better feedback.

 

 

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3 hours ago, ZANDER1994 said:

Today I shot my new personal best of an 81 at a par 71 course from the whites (69.4/129).  

...

GIR: 11/18

 

 

 

IMO, if you hit 11 GIR's you should shoot 73. I agree that you should work on putting and chipping - at least half of total practice time.  

Might want to try an app like MyRoundPro that shows strokes gained (and lost) in different parts of the game. More objective than traditional stats.  

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