Drive for Show – Putt for Dough!

Loyalist Country Club (12)

Putting for Dough!

Drive for Show – Putt for Dough is nothing new to any fanatic golfer. For some, it is how they build their golf game. Yet for others, it means absolutely nothing!

My question is: which is more important for an amateur golfer: driving for show or putting for dough?

Over the past 15 years, the top professional golfers have increased their average driving distance by 20 yards. In 2000, John Daly was the only player to average over 300 years. Today, there are 25 players who average over 300 yards off the tee! I think the increase in distance can be attributed to technology, but also the philosophy of “get it as close to the green and let your short game take over!” We can thank Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson for that shift in thought.

For professional golfers, both driving distance and putting are equally important. Their GIR, putting, and scrambling percentages have not changed much in the past 15 years. And except for Tiger Woods in 2000 (who was a full 2 strokes per round better than everyone else) the average number of strokes per round has not changed.

Therefore, even though professional golfers are 20 yards farther off the tee in 2015, not much else has changed since 2000. If this is the case, how do all these stats apply to the amateur golfer?

Well, the short answer is that they really do not apply!

Amateur golfers are a different. They are not at the top of the sport and most have swing issues that professional golfers do not contend with week in and week out. Most amateurs already have a job and it is not on the golf course, so their ability to focus and dedicate time to improving is usually limited.

Keeping all this in mind, where should amateurs focus their efforts to become a better golfer. I have discussed quick fixes in earlier posts, but ultimately amateurs should use Pareto’s Principle of 80/20. I recommend amateurs with a handicap greater than 15 to focus 80% of their time on their short game (25 yards and closer). This number will slide slightly as their scores lower. But, focusing on your short game as a higher handicapper is how to make the best use of your practice time.

I am 2.8 handicap and spend 60% of my time practicing my short game. In my short game practice, I include shots from 25 yards, 15 yards, 5 yards, out of the sand, odd lies and of course putting. I refine my focus to address known areas of weakness in my game, but for the most part practice the short shots mentioned above. Consistently practicing my short game has lower my scores over the years and will be the main focus as I reach my goal of being a scratch golfer this year.

Driving for show – putt for dough is a very good saying. I believe that putting for dough is the most important part of this statement! What do you think?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!


11 thoughts on “Drive for Show – Putt for Dough!

  1. Pingback: Golf’s Greatest Secret | The Grateful Golfer

  2. Jim

    You’re totally right! It could probably say “chip and putt for dough”, but that doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely. I think Jordan Spieth validated your post with his win this past weekend. What a short game display! Kept him in it when he wasn’t hitting it his best.



  3. For the higher handicap golfer cutting out the three putt is the most productive way to lower their handicap. I have tried three different drivers this year, they were longer, but more difficult to control, meaning I missed the fairway a lot. Continually scrambling is not a fun way to play golf.


    • Pete

      You are right, always scrambling is a tough way to play. Not only is it frustrating, but mentally draining. I agree that the 3 putt is one of the first things higher handicap players need to get under control. However, every player has to decide and work in that direction. Unfortunately there are no quick fixes in golf! Keep going, you can conquer this road bump!



  4. Drive for dough is the best way to lower scores, according to this genius who struggles off the tee! I do contend that if you do not hit the ball long (enough) off the tee, you will never get to within the short game range in regulation. Hit it as long as you are able and let the mid to short irons get you a putt or some sort of short chip to the pin. I play with a friend now who hits irons off some of the 400 yard (plus) holes understanding that he will require 3 shots to get to the green. In essence he has given away a shot on almost every hole before he puts the ball on the tee. I say take your chances and blast away off the tee – after spending lots of time at the driving range! Great article for conversation.


    • Kirk

      That is a good approach if the player can keep their ball in play….most of the time. I have spent most of my time on my short game, but realize I do need those extra few yards off the tee. I will be working on that this year as well. Keep hitting them long!



  5. Jim, agreed. But putt for dough is not as glamorous as Drive for show. 🙂 I think if amateurs would A) put a new driver in the bag to allow them to hit farther, and B) practice their full swing on the shots from 100 yards and in, they’d lower their scores the quickest. But practicing full swing pitching wedges doesn’t float most people’s boats. It does for me though. Thanks!



    • Brain

      Great advice for many novice players. I think you and I would be happy practicing any shot. We are more students of the game and can see the value of practicing areas that others do not. That is what keeps golf fun.


      Liked by 1 person

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