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!