Posted on: 31 March
The PGA Sparms Legends Tour teed off this year in Victoria at the end of February. It was great to get out amongst the competition and test my game after a few months of practice. I played all over Victoria: from Echuca/Moama on the Vic/NSW border, down to Portsea, as well as in and around the greater Melbourne metropolitan area. I clocked up a few miles on the odometer but it was made easier given I have played many of these courses in the past. I made a nice start to the year – out of the 7 events I played, I finished top ten in 6 and won twice including successfully defending a title from last year.
Being a touring professional means having to adapt to different course conditions. This may also be the case for you if you are playing different courses with your friends. One of the key differences is putting. Subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) changes in speed, slopes, firmness, grass types etc means that extra attention needs to be given on the greens. Putting is so important (“drive for show and putt for dough”) and having an ordinary day on the greens usually means you miss out on a cheque. So here are my 3 putting musts before every round of golf.
- Give yourself time to practice – Although it is good to warm up on the range and make sure your body is loose and ready to go, you need to spend almost the same amount of time on the putting green. During your round an average of 2 putts per hole can be almost half of your score. Giving yourself time to become accustomed to the pace of the greens not only makes sense, but it also gives you time to calm the nerves and narrow your focus for the round ahead.
- Pace – I always start on the putting green with some long putts – around 30 feet. I like to hit a couple of putts uphill and then downhill followed by a couple from either direction across the slope to give me a feel for pace and also how much the putts are breaking. I also have a few putts from a couple of meters off the green to further develop my feel for the pace of the putting surface and the surrounds.
- Focus – Lastly comes a bunch of putts from around 4- 5 feet. I find this part of the warmup the most important and an opportunity to work on keeping a square putter-face at impact. During a round, it’s these length putts that I can’t afford to miss and repeatedly seeing and hearing the ball going in the hole gives me confidence. During this stage of my preparation, I avoid putting from 8-20 feet and I avoid slippery breaking putts as I am less likely to hole these; no need to destroy my confidence before heading out onto the course. Keep in mind – the PGA Tour average from 7 feet is 50%.
Adopting my routine will not only help you warm up your putting stroke but also allow you to build some confidence with regards to the speed and slope. Better scores will follow.
If you would like to work on your putting book a lesson at michaellonggolf.com