Those of you who have been following my ramblings here this year know what a difficult time I've had with my long putting. Three-putts are commonplace, and I've been suffering from a complete lack of confidence. In short, I don't have any idea what I'm doing on long putts in any way, shape, or form.
How bad is it? Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light. Total protonic reversal. It's bad, I tell you.
I've tried short putters and long putters. I've tried putting lefty and putting righty. I've tried big fat heavy heads and tiny little blade heads. I've tried a variety of stances, and a plethora of grips. Nothing's worked.
The last time I played 18 at Firewheel I shot an 89 on a par 81 course. Bogey golf, which is a pretty good score for me. What was bothersome was that in this 89 I hit 8 fairways and 9 greens in regulation, but I had 40 putts for the round. According to statistics I've seen this means my long game was about like a 9 handicap golfer, but my putting was like a 36 handicapper.
So I'm out at the greens working on my short game last night. A bit of putting, and a bit of pitching. Some more putting, and some chipping. My putting is again poor. My pitching is spotty, which isn't all that surprising because I haven't been playing a lot over the past month. My chipping is ....
Hey, wait just one God damned minute !!! Why is it that I can chip-and-run a six-iron from the fringe a LOT closer and with more consistency than if I were to putt it from ten feet closer on the green? Tried it again, from the other side of the green, with more good results.
You know how all the big shot short game teachers tell you that you should chip with your putting stroke? Well, I've never had enough faith in my putting stroke to take this advice, so I've sort of come up with my own chipping method.
So, at a loss as to how to explain this conundrum I decide to try putting with my chipping stroke, and HALLELUJAH !!! Lo and behold, I start stroking the ball beautifully. I putt my six balls to different holes and different distances. All of a sudden I can truly feel how I need to hit the putt, I roll ball after ball up to within feet of reasonably long targets. It was BY FAR the best long putting I've ever done. It's the first time I can recall having an actual "touch" for the distance.
I don't remember thinking about much as I was hitting the ball. Mostly just "go up there and get the ball close to the hole."
As darkness was bringing my practice to an end I wrapped it up on a true high, hitting my six balls all to within five feet of the hole from a good 30 paces away, downhill and with a six-foot break. This may not mean much to those of you who are actually good putters, but to someone like me it was absolutely astounding.
And believe you me, I was grinning like Billy Bob Thornton after a fifth of Jack.
I can't wait to practice again, and I can't wait to get out on the course again. I've been around golf long enough to know there's a very real possibility that I will never again recapture this feeling, even with the exact same methods and equipment.
But, maybe just maybe I've stumbled on something here. To be continued ...