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What are your putting statistics? How do you know if you're improving?

     In the last newsletter, I explained the statistical signficance of the short game and why we should all be working on it the most. The most important part of the short game to improve is putting. Before I embark on providing tips for improvement, its important that you have a measure to improve upon. You need to know where your putting is at so that you can compare it later.

     Keeping track of the number of putts per round is not the best method of measuring your putting ability. The number of putts you make depends largely on the length of the putts. If you hit 14 greens one day and then 5 greens the next, it is highly likely that you had fewer putts when only 5 greens were hit because the average putting distance was shorter. I much better measure is how many putts you make from various distances, whether they be for birdies, pars or bogeys

  I find that most golfers are unrealistic about they're putting and so are very hard on themselves which leads to more putts and a negative effect on the rest of the game. For example, a golfer hits the first 8 greens and has quite a few chances for birdie inside of 15 feet. He makes none of them, grows frustrated, puts more pressure on himself to hit it even closer. The result? His ball striking deteriorates and his score skyrockets. Sound familiar?

     How many 10 or 15 footers does one typically make? Take a look at this graph of Putting % versus Length of Putt (the graph will open in a new window). For a 10 footer (or about 3 metres), a touring pro averages 40%.
A high handicapper (15 - 30) averages 24%. A touring pro makes almost twice as many. Take a look at how much time those pros spend on their putting. These are averages. What we usually view on TV are the best players on the weekend. They have the lowest scores because they are sinking the most putts. They're having exceptional putting rounds. They are not putting their average

     When many golfers set their expectations for putting, however, they think of what they've seen on TV, yet few putt in anywhere near the time required to become that good of a putter. The golfer that hits the first 8 greens and doesn't sink a putt, their putting average to that point is 0% instead of the average 24%. On another day, their average may be 50% of the putts.

     One putt percentages don't give a true reflection of overall putting ability. Two players may sink 10% of their 15 footers, but one may 3 putt more of them. A better statistic is the average number of strokes taken from different distances. Here is a sample of stroke averages.

Putt Length
Hcp 0-4
Hcp 11
Hcp 26
3 feet
6 feet
10 feet
15 feet
20 feet
30 feet
40 feet
50 feet

For myself, a 2 handicapper, my overall putting is better than the average 0 - 4 handicapper. My putting is one of the main reasons I remain a low handicapper. On 10, 6 foot putts, I'll take on average 14.2 strokes while a 26 handicapper will take 18.6 strokes; that's a 4.4 stroke difference. And remember, these are averages. One day I may take 18 strokes and on others I may take 10 strokes.

     I encourage you to keep your putting statistics like I do above so that you can monitor your progress. It will give you an accurate measure of how you're doing. You can compare your stats to the table above. All you need to do on your scorecard for each round is record the length of each putt and how many strokes it took to hole out. Pace out your distances trying to take 3 foot paces. As you gain experience, you'll be able to estimate many putts without pacing.

I've written a little spreadsheet program to keep track of your putting statistics. Make a purchase of anything I sell from my site and I'll send it to you as a BONUS. Just send me an email after your purchase to let me know you'd like it. OR, you can purchase it for only $5.99.

     For example, let's say you measure a putt to be 6 paces, or 18 feet. I would record this as a 20 foot putt (round to the nearest 5). You hit the ball 6 feet past the hole and sink the 6 footer. You would record a 20 footer with 2 strokes taken and a 6 footer with 1 stroke taken. If you were to have missed the 6 footer, it would be recorded as 2 strokes. If you stroked the 20 footer to within tap in range, you would only record a 20 footer with 2 strokes; there is no second putt.

     After about 10 rounds, you'll have enough putts to calculate a realistic average. In my previous 10 rounds, I've had 39, 10 footers, and I've taken 66 strokes. The average is 63/39 = 1.62. If you choose to implement some of my putting tips, you'll be able to determin if in fact they are making a significant improvement in your putting.


If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at golfexpert@probablegolfinstruction.com

©Probable Golf Instruction, Ken Tannar 2001-2011. All Rights Reserved.

Langley, B.C. V2Y 2G4
Phone: 604-539-7760   FAX: to fax, email an attachment
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