I recently mentioned to Brian Penn from All About Golf, that I picked a hint a few years back from an elder statesman. Blair and I were invited to play in scramble with my friend Bruce and his friend Jack. We all had something to contribute to the team, but little did I know that Jack was going to provide the most important putting tip I have received in years.
Jack was a steady player who was also the senior member of our team. In his mid 70s, his experience enabled him to anticipate shot requirements and offer sage advice that benefitted the team. As we progressed through our round, Jack said one profound thing that has stuck with me some 3 years later.
Jack told us repeatedly to ‘putt what you see‘.
That small statement has guided my play ever since. What was happening during the tournament as we discussed our putts, we found that we all saw something slightly different. The result of each of our strokes would be the same, we all had a different aim point. Jack identified this variation early in the round and he just told us to putt what we say.
What exactly did Jack mean? Every player has an idea on how hard they need to hit the ball to make it to the hole. Some players like to be aggressive (like me) and other players like to drop the ball into the hole (like Blair). Because we hit the ball at different speeds, we will read the greens differently. I will take less break and Blair will take more. Therefore, each of us must putt what we see in order to make the shot.
For Brian, the above paragraph is how I interrupted what Jack meant. When playing with different players in a scramble, reading the green (as I always do) does not necessarily mean that it is the right read for the player hitting the shot. Interestingly, when Rick, Blair, Fernando and I play in a scramble (Men’s night at Osprey Links), we have adopted the mantra of letting Rick hit what he sees with some minor input. However, more often than not we tell him to ‘putt what you see’. This is great advice because Rick putts very well and he often gives us an excellent read (unless he sinks it of course).
Focusing on Jack’s advice has helped take my short game to the next level. He unintentionally taught me a valuable lesson about putting that only lowers my golf scores. ‘Putt what you see’ does work and can be used to improve your short game.
Wait…..I just thought of another aspect of Jack’s sage wisdom that I will save for another day.
Thanks Jack, your impact on my game is very profound.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
5 thoughts on “Putt What You See!”
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Jim, got it; thanks. This is very timely because I’m playing in a charity scramble tomorrow. When our team competes, we usually try to come to a consensus before the first putt is struck. It never occurred to me that others would read it differently. I suppose “putt what you see” works the best if you have a good putter going first. Then everyone can adjust based on observation.
I was a little confused and thought the idea may be related to Tiger’s “putt to a picture”. Apparently they are related concepts but not totally the same.
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My pleasure. Have fun tomorrow and play well!
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Sage advice. And just like everything, practice will make you better. Even if it’s on the carpet at home. It is worth it to put in ten or fifteen minutes putting into a plastic cup a few times a week if you have nothing else. Make a game of it. Try some trick shots. Make it hard. But mostly make it fun so you’ll do it often. My kids play video games. I putt into little above ground plastic holes that came in a game I was gifted years ago. They give me a little more flexibility, but, if you can putt a ball into an 8 ounce plastic cup on carpet from 8 or 10 feet, you surely can drop a 6 footer on the green. Your confidence level will go through the roof. A cup laying on it’s side makes for a pretty small hole so when you get on the green the hole looks wide and inviting.
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You are right that routine practice is very important. Playing and having fun while practicing is important as well. If we are not having fun, then what is the point.