Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
iacas

The Importance of Putting is Vastly Overstated (and its Contribution to Winning on the PGA Tour)

Note: This thread is 1344 days old. We appreciate that you found this thread instead of starting a new one, but if you plan to post here please make sure it's still relevant. If not, please start a new topic. Thank you!

43 posts / 6592 viewsLast Reply

Recommended Posts

Might be the largest post on TST ever @iacas . Thanks for posting it. I think I understand what you are explaining here :-):-):-), but still have a question.

Suppose you are (like me) very consistant with the driver, like 80% FIR and hitting it 210-250y. Age almost 60 (like me). What would be the thing to do? I think it is working on chipping, not on hitting it further. Bigger picture is that there might be different statistics for older and more consistant players?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

Want to hide this ad? Register for free today!

15 hours ago, MacDutch said:

Suppose you are (like me) very consistant with the driver, like 80% FIR and hitting it 210-250y. Age almost 60 (like me). What would be the thing to do? I think it is working on chipping, not on hitting it further. Bigger picture is that there might be different statistics for older and more consistant players?

250 is low enough to be scratch, but 210-250 is a pretty wide range. If you are capable of hitting the ball 250, but find yourself often hitting it 210 (and I don't mean by hitting a hybrid), then you should absolutely work to make that 250 happen far more often.

But, if you're at the physical capability peak, it's pointless to try to work harder at distance. If you're at your peak distance and hitting it as accurately as you are, too - then it's also pretty pointless to spend any time working on your driver.

All the posts here assume that people are at least somewhat aware of their actual limitations. Even I never work on hitting the ball farther - I'm hitting it about as far as I'm going to, so I focus on shot shape and a little bit quality of contact.

If you're accurate and hit the ball about as far as you reasonably can hit it, look at your approach shots. See how contact is there. If it too is about as good as you're physically capable of producing, look at the short game (and "The Longest Yard") and your putting (but focus a little bit more on the short game).

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

Very interesting discussion, and I love to debate this kind of stuff.

I agree that putting is mostly overrated for the average golfer, and most players give it more significance than they should simply because the psychological impact of making or missing a putt seems to cement your score for the hole. Looking at the stats your chances of actually making a putt are quite terrible, and most players have no idea. I always felt if you are going to practice putting, your time is best spent on the putts you actually have a decent chance of making (inside 8 feet). I've spoken to several pro golfers who said if they had one piece of advice for an amateur it was to practice nothing but five to six footers.

As for proximity to the hole and scoring...There's no doubt that being able to hit the ball farther with more accuracy is the quickest way to improve scores, the stats back it up. However, for the typical recreational golfer that might require a decent amount of work because you are dealing with fixing a swing. That is both time consuming, costly (if you get lessons), and there is certainly no guarantees of success. It's a worthy pursuit, but sometimes players just don't have the time or resources to do it.

That is why I always felt working on your short game (100 yards and in) with your wedges is the best bang for your buck in terms of time invested vs impact on scores. Bob Rotella had a great quote (i'm paraphrasing) - All golfers don't have the ability to have a great long game, but every golfer has the ability to have a great short game. 

Learning how to hit a wedge shot properly is not nearly as difficult as learning how to hit your driver 250+ yards and straight. So my advice to someone who is looking to get down from a 23 handicap to an 18 is to spend about 2 months practicing nothing but their wedge shots. Learn how to execute them properly so you can eliminate those chunks and skulls around the green. I consider this to be a low-hanging fruit because it will save strokes, and it's not terribly complicated or difficult to improve performance in that part of the game.

Golf is a endlessly complex game, and every player has different skill sets, so there is no one solution. But if you are someone who has largely ignored practicing your wedge game I would suggest giving it some attention, it can dramatically improve your scores. I have been around great golfers my whole life, every single one of them had an above-average short game, and could get up and down from almost anywhere on the course. Just my $0.02

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, jd1623 said:

I agree that putting is mostly overrated for the average golfer, and most players give it more significance than they should simply because the psychological impact of making or missing a putt seems to cement your score for the hole. Looking at the stats your chances of actually making a putt are quite terrible, and most players have no idea. I always felt if you are going to practice putting, your time is best spent on the putts you actually have a decent chance of making (inside 8 feet). I've spoken to several pro golfers who said if they had one piece of advice for an amateur it was to practice nothing but five to six footers.

In Lowest Score Wins we break down two SV② skills of 3-15 foot putts and 25+ foot putts. The latter is important so that it can help to avoid three-putts by leaving tap-ins.

We considered making it 3-10 foot putts, thinking that it might help move a putting category to an SV③ (we have only two SV③ skills as it is). But in the end, we couldn't for two reasons:

  • Dropping the latter five feet (even though it would be helped with the R-factor) also dropped the O-factor, which is the number of Opportunities you have to hit 3-10 foot putts per round.
  • There's still a ceiling that's pretty low, unfortunately, as even a PGA Tour level player putting on a PGA Tour green (which are super consistent and with pins on relatively flat spots week in and week out) only make 50% from eight feet.

Considering those, we couldn't chop up putting enough to get it into the SV③ category. It got close, and we considered bumping it up there… but we do list Green Reading as an SV③ skill, and that applies quite a bit to these 3-, 7-, 9-, 15-foot putts.

7 hours ago, jd1623 said:

As for proximity to the hole and scoring... There's no doubt that being able to hit the ball farther with more accuracy is the quickest way to improve scores, the stats back it up. However, for the typical recreational golfer that might require a decent amount of work because you are dealing with fixing a swing. That is both time consuming, costly (if you get lessons), and there is certainly no guarantees of success. It's a worthy pursuit, but sometimes players just don't have the time or resources to do it.

It is costly time-wise, indeed. That's why we recommend in LSW and here on the site practicing in a 65/20/15 ratio:

 

Your practice time is valuable, and even a small gain made in the full swing is going to result in strokes saved on the course.

That said, and all along, we've said that if you have a tournament in a week, or you have six hours to practice something, five of them might be best spent working on the short game and putting. They're easy and you can get better quickly. Working on your short game and putting is one of the fastest way to shave a few strokes from your score. Working on your full swing will shave the most strokes, but it takes a good amount of time to recognize those gains. If you need to shave two or three strokes, five hours or so spent getting the ball closer to the hole from around the green is a good way to go.

But the ceiling for improvement there is limited, too: a few strokes.

7 hours ago, jd1623 said:

That is why I always felt working on your short game (100 yards and in) with your wedges is the best bang for your buck in terms of time invested vs impact on scores. Bob Rotella had a great quote (i'm paraphrasing) - All golfers don't have the ability to have a great long game, but every golfer has the ability to have a great short game.

Yes, but there's a limit to that. It's the best bang for your buck in the first five hours, but the benefits diminish rapidly thereafter. After that initial burst, you're best to put short game work into a "maintenance" mode of sorts - practicing only about 35% of your time on the short game and putting combined.

The bang for your buck drops off quickly. With the full swing, the bang for your buck starts out at a lower level, but has a much, much longer half life. It doesn't decline anywhere near as quickly.

7 hours ago, jd1623 said:

Golf is a endlessly complex game, and every player has different skill sets, so there is no one solution. But if you are someone who has largely ignored practicing your wedge game I would suggest giving it some attention, it can dramatically improve your scores. I have been around great golfers my whole life, every single one of them had an above-average short game, and could get up and down from almost anywhere on the course. Just my $0.02.

Well, Jon, they also had an above-average rest of their game, as you know… ;-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

@iacas don't disagree with anything you've written. I've spent thousands of hours trying to figure out how to hit that little white ball at my target, and will continue doing so for the rest of my life! Ball striking it certainly the key to continuing your improvement as a golfer. 

I believe for players who have largely ignored their short game, there is an opportunity for quick improvement. I've witnessed so many golfers who spend almost all of their time trying to hit their drivers as far as humanly possibly at the range, and they are shocked when they make a mess out of their wedge shots around the greens. There are 3-6 strokes just waiting to come off their scores if they just adjust their practice routine a bit.

However, you are right by saying your progress will get tapped out eventually. I think the ratio you talk about in that post on practice time is spot on, and it's pretty much how I devote my time these days. I love talking about this topic because I think purposeful practice is one of the keys to improving as a golfer. Having a plan before you show up to the range, or course can help so much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, jd1623 said:

I believe for players who have largely ignored their short game, there is an opportunity for quick improvement.

Yes, and I've said the same thing many times.

1 hour ago, jd1623 said:

I've witnessed so many golfers who spend almost all of their time trying to hit their drivers as far as humanly possibly at the range, and they are shocked when they make a mess out of their wedge shots around the greens. There are 3-6 strokes just waiting to come off their scores if they just adjust their practice routine a bit.

I've seen golfers doing that too. But, at the same time, those are often not the golfers who are looking to really improve. These are often golfers who enjoy hitting the ball far, drinking a little, spending time away from their wives and with their buddies, working out work frustrations, that sort of thing. These aren't often serious golfers (with a loose definition of "serious"). I mean, they're not even practicing… they're just smacking balls.

1 hour ago, jd1623 said:

There are 3-6 strokes just waiting to come off their scores if they just adjust their practice routine a bit.

3-6 is about right, and yes, they can get them pretty quickly. I've never said any differently.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

32 minutes ago, iacas said:

I've seen golfers doing that too. But, at the same time, those are often not the golfers who are looking to really improve. These are often golfers who enjoy hitting the ball far, drinking a little, spending time away from their wives and with their buddies, working out work frustrations, that sort of thing. These aren't often serious golfers (with a loose definition of "serious"). I mean, they're not even practicing… they're just smacking balls.

Agreed, and I don't think there's any problem with that. If you can have fun with that approach, then I believe you're still a successful golfer. I know plenty of players who take the game seriously, practice hard, but are generally unhappy with the game. If it's not fun, then why spend all that time??!!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seems that 30% seem to get it (from a recent online poll representative of the golfing population). More than I would have expected.

GD Poll.PNG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lies, Damn Lies and Putting Statistics

Quote

A recent Twitter poll conducted by @MMcEwanBunkered of Bunkered magazine asked if you’d rather drive like Rory or putt like Spieth ended with 66% in favour of Spieth. Spieth’s putting is now talked of in mythical proportions. Spieth doesn’t roll the ball to the hole, the hole comes to Spieth. Spieth doesn’t read the greens, the contours adjust to his will. Spieth doesn’t allow for the break, the earth’s rotation moves to suit. So maybe I’d better whisper the next part…

Spieth isn’t the best putter on tour

https://fuzzygolf.wordpress.com/2016/01/15/lies-damn-lies-and-putting-statistics/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

i have, on three occasions, hit a ball like Rory might have. if i could do that regularly, i would be a happy happy man.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

On 1/23/2016 at 11:22 AM, nevets88 said:

Solid article. What he doesn't say and I think a lot of people forget when offered the good driver vs. good putter comparison is that unless the guy is actually hitting your drives for you - if you personally gain extra distance with driver, you will be hitting even shorter clubs into the greens because with better swing speed and technique you will almost certainly be longer with all clubs in the bag.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On 1/5/2016 at 0:37 PM, RandallT said:

I have to admit I haven't finished reading the full post, but I will!

This interesting data visualization above jumped out at me. It would be interesting to apply this style of visualization to just the PGA players during tournaments. For example, on average for the top 10 players of each tournament, how did their "playing level" that week compare full swing vs putting. And then throw in "short game" somehow.

From the scatter plot showing that 35% is that average contribution of putting to winners, we'd see more skew in the full swing for the winners. But the overlaps would be quite substantial for both full swing and putting- enough to give many people the anecdotal sense that you "putt for dough" or make your money "around the greens."  While many people might have trouble reading the scatter plot, this style of visualization might hit home more.

Since I've regained an interest in golf, the idea of variance in performance has been an area of interest for me, since we are not machines who perform at the same level round-to-round, or hole-to-hole. So the bell curve shapes tell an important story to me.

Great thread.

I had the same thought. Doing bell curves for the different categories (drive / approach / short / putt) of an individual player could help visualize the way the variability in the different aspects of the game overlap and additively contribute to wins when the stars align and a player is performing on the plus sigma side in all categories or out of their mind in one but average or poorly in others.

I would hazard a guess that the 35% average contribution to wins along with the smaller contribution (~ 15%) from putting for top 40 players implies a bell curve for putting (better players at least) that is short and squat with thicker tails relative to a bell curve for the long game that is taller with tails that are perhaps as long / wide, but much shorter / thinner. That would jibe with observation of putting performance as very variable in the thread.

Curves like these for the average variance in performance for a 'typical' / 'baseline' player by Broadie would be an interesting supplement to the SG discussion in his next book.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

iacas

I agree.

If putting were so important then most golfers would carry 3 putters in their bag.  Instead most golfers carry 3 woods for driving, 5-6 irons, 4 wedges and 1 putter!

I also don't like the stat called "strokes gained putting".  I don't find it very telling.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know in the group of players I play with, putting is very important. I don't recall anybody winning or even playing well when they putted average or bad. Not to say that driving isn't important, even at the hack/amateur level. It's just that the winners, in our group of players, made a ton of putts that day. Putting separated them from the rest of the field.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

11 hours ago, RH31 said:

Putting separated them from the rest of the field.

Their ballstriking also separated them (probably more so than their putting).

I'm sure you've seen this example on the site before but consider if you had to compete against a PGA Tour player in a putting contest or a GIR/closest to the hole from 160 yards. Which one would you choose? It would obviously be the putting contest because you'd have a chance, you'd have no chance with the ballstriking contest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

11 hours ago, RH31 said:

I know in the group of players I play with, putting is very important. I don't recall anybody winning or even playing well when they putted average or bad. Not to say that driving isn't important, even at the hack/amateur level. It's just that the winners, in our group of players, made a ton of putts that day. Putting separated them from the rest of the field.

Players in the 7-8 handicap range are better than average ball strikers so it makes sense that they lose proportionally more strokes at putting. If you and they couldn't drive 230+ yards and reasonably hit approaches to greens from 160 yards, then putting would be a much lesser contributor to better scores.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

11 hours ago, RH31 said:

I know in the group of players I play with, putting is very important. I don't recall anybody winning or even playing well when they putted average or bad. Not to say that driving isn't important, even at the hack/amateur level. It's just that the winners, in our group of players, made a ton of putts that day. Putting separated them from the rest of the field.

It's mostly because the long game gets forgotten. You remember the 15 ft putts for birdie, but you don't remember the great iron strike to get you that putt. 

Also, if you ever pay attention to other golfers it's typically when they are putting. Most of the time you are not even close to them when they are hitting their other shots. They go off into the woods, or into a bunker. Everyone is on the green at the same time. It's a big misperception that people think putting separates the field. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

Note: This thread is 1344 days old. We appreciate that you found this thread instead of starting a new one, but if you plan to post here please make sure it's still relevant. If not, please start a new topic. Thank you!

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  



×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Welcome to TST! Signing up is free, and you'll see fewer ads and can talk with fellow golf enthusiasts! By using TST, you agree to our Terms of Use, our Privacy Policy, and our Guidelines.

The popup will be closed in 10 seconds...