Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mostly Harmless Putting Tip Passes Live Play Test

I was so excited about my new pre-putt/trigger routine that I decided to take it to a course I was unfamiliar with--in this case, South Shore Country Club, only a few minutes from our new house. I went off around 6:45 am playing 2 balls, a yellow Srixon and a TaylorMade Penta instead of my usual Titleist Pro V1, for the same reason I chose a course I'd played only once before, in totally different conditions (now that we've gone from a super-wet spring to a super-dry summer): I didn't want familiarity to interfere with the test results.

So how did my focus on the target, visualization of it as I let my eyes follow the intended line back to the ball, and beginning of the putting stroke at the moment my eyes focused on the ball work out? Given that the ground crews were still out on the course, some greens I played were mowed and others unmowed, some very wet and some fairly dry, and all drying out from early-morning dew differently, and all the greens were very slow, this was a great test of my putting, and I was super-pleased with the results. With the Srixon, I only hit 6 fairways, but hit 7 greens in regulation. Of them, I made 2 birdies and an eagle. Due to 2 triples and 2 doubles, I ended up with an 83 with 29 putts. With the Penta, I hit 11 fairways, but only 5 greens. Of them, I made 2 birdies. Because I recovered well from the occasional wild shot, and came close to hitting a lot of greens, I ended up with a 78 with 26 putts. And it's not like I was particularly sharp with my 30-yards-and-in game--most of the putts I made were in the 4-to-10-foot range (except for everything shorter, of which I made everything), but I must have rolled in a half dozen putts in the 10-to-20-foot range, as well, including some crazy par saves and big breakers. Even though the method wasn't foolproof--I still misread the line and speed of many putts and wasn't always stroking the ball the way I wanted even when I did get them right--I never 3-putted a single hole and I only came close once or twice.

So I was making more putts and missing better with this pre-putt/trigger routine. The only problem was that I was searching all day for a similar pre-shot/trigger routine and never found one that worked well for me. As you can see, I hit a lot of really bad drives and approach shots, partly the product of only playing twice since the middle of June, but also because of a lack of focus and ease of distraction. But hey, I'm not complaining! I've finally got the missing pieces of my game in place--not just putting, but the lob shot move that I watched Suzann Pettersen practice for half an hour at the Wegmans LPGA Championship--so now it's just a matter of getting all the pieces together in the right place at the right time. I'll spare you further progress reports and save my observations for a post at the end of the month where I can report on how I did at a NYSGA State Day in Buffalo, the Utica City Amateur, and the qualifier for the Buffalo District Men's Amateur.

Now back to our regularly-scheduled U.S. Women's Open blogging!

[Update 1 (7/8/11, 7:08 am): Thanks to Ruthless Mike for commenting on my tip and explaining how he's already been doing something very similar for his entire short game, not just putting. I played my home course yesterday evening to see how the seeing/visualizing thing would work on greens I'm slightly more familiar with, and am happy to report I shot a 33 with 14 putts using an old Pro V1, but less happy about my back-to-back doubles that turned a decent round with a Penta into a 40 with 17 putts. It was more problems with my wedges that accounted for so many putts with the latter. I'm going to try to incorporate Mike's advice tonight and see what happens!]

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