It’s an expression that most golfers will recognise and yet many handicap golfers spend very little time practising their putting.
Bobby Locke coined the phrase Drive For Show, Putt For Dough. Meaning it looks truly awesome when you hit the ball a long way, but the idea of the game of golf is to get the ball into the hole in as few shots as possible and putting takes care of a third of all shots.
Most top pro’s know that the weekly winners have usually got the ball in the hole in the fewest putts. So you don’t win anything, or indeed finish anything until the putt is made – Hence the expression ‘Putt For Dough‘
What that effectively means is that putting is arguably the most important part of the game and that is why Tour pros spend so much time working on their short game and putting.
If they don’t make putts, they don’t earn any money
Becoming A Great Putter
Back in the 1960s and early 1970s US golfers won virtually every major championship and European golfers did not compete on the US PGA Tour – in most cases they were not good enough.
To be truthful, I have always contended that their putting was not good enough and that was what made the difference between US and European golfers.
At that time, European golf was dominated by Great Britain as few continental golfers played over here and the European Tour was very much in its infancy.
There were a few South Africans and Australians plus Bob Charles who was virtually the sole Kiwi on tour.
From the mid 1970s and into the 1980s, the likes of Ballesteros and Faldo became great putters and the tide of US domination of golf receded.
In my opinion, British golfers recognised the importance of improving their putting to enable them to compete on a world stage. Since then the modern era of golf has shown that to win worldwide you need an allround game and putting is right at the forefront of importance.
So How Do You Become A Great Putter?
- Believe that you can make every putt
- Understand that 95% of first impressions regarding line are correct
- Don’t change your mind once you’ve taken your stance over the ball
- Practice at least 30 minutes EVERY DAY
Do not use any excuse for not practising – wherever you are, whatever surface you have can be putted on. Carpets can be putted on and used to simulate slow greens.
Tile or wood floors can simulate fast greens. When you get to grass you can use your experience of multi-surface practise to adjust much quicker and easier
How To Practice Your Putting
- Concentrate on 6-10 foot putts – if you can make a high percentage of those putts you will reduce your putts per round and therefore improve your overall scoring
- Break your practice sessions into 30 minute sessions to avoid boredom and turn it into something YOU WANT TO DO
- Take 6 balls and spread them around a golf hole at varying distances between 6 feet and 15 feet
- Set yourself a target of achieving 50% success rate – increase that by 5% or 10% per session
- Record your practise sessions so you can monitor your improvement
When you achieve 90% success rate you can call yourself a good putter. Take that success to the course with you and watch your handicap come down.
If you can play to your handicap regularly, you will sometimes play under your handicap AND WIN COMPETITIONS
All the practise you have put in becomes worthwhile because you have proven the expression Putt For Dough and improved putting is the easiest way of handicap golfers reducing their handicap.
A great way to increase your feel on the green when you putt is to practice with your eyes closed!
Taking your sense of sight away will heighten your other senses including your feel. Another great by-product of putting with your eyes closed is that it forces you to keep your body very still when you make the stroke.
Any unwanted movement could cause a complete miss hit or even stubbing the putter head into the ground. Here’s how it works….Start with a flat putt of about 6 to 8 feet in length.
Go through your normal putting routine and make a few practice strokes with your eyes open as usual.
Address the ball as normal, close your eyes and go ahead and make the putt.
Keep those eyes closed throughout and listen for the ball to drop in the hole. Still keeping those eyes closed and(if you don’t hear it drop in) tell yourself where you think the ball has finished. For example do you feel it has finished short and to the left or maybe long and to the right.
Now open your eyes and see if you were wright or wrong with your estimation.
With a little practice at this you should soon be getting most or if not all of your answers correct, improving your steadiness and distance control. Work up to some longer putts and start to make them more challenging with some big breaks. Practice this for just 20 minutes a week and you will keep on top of your putting and become more consistent.
You could even take this practice drill one step further and attempt to use it on the course. If you are conscious of your playing partners thinking you have gone mad, just wear your sunglasses – they will never know!
What an eye opener
When Putting try to make sure your dominant eye is over the ball at address as this will help you to see the line of putt much easier and align the putter face correctly.
To find out which of your eyes is the dominant one:
- Form a circle between your forefinger and thumb.
- Hold your arm out straight and look through the circle to an object in the distance.
- Finally close each eye separately and see if the object in the circle moves out of it or stays within it.
When the object stays within the circle it is your dominant eye.
For a right handed golfer, if you are left eye dominant try positioning the ball more forward in your stance.
If you are right eye dominant position the ball a little further back in your stance. The opposite is true for left handed golfers.
Practice Makes Perfect, Or Does It?
Did you know the most common putting aid on the market are the indoor putting mats.
These are usually about 6-feet long with one, sometimes two, cups cut into one end.
Often they are slightly uphill as this is usually to accommodate the hole. These are useful putting aids to use but there are a few things that you need to consider when using a putting mat.
The biggest drawback to indoor putting mats is the limited variety of putt that you are able to practice. The design of the mat is pretty straight forward, as we’ve already said it’s usually about 6-foot long and straight.
So you get to practice straight putts from up to six foot – whilst those putts are important to practice, think about how many times on a course do you actually get six foot straight putts.
One real downside to using putting mats is there is the danger of you getting in the groove.
What we mean by this is you will invariably learn the pace and line of the putt and then switch onto auto pilot.
You will then forget about setting up properly, your putting grip, the putting stroke and the putting strike, especially if you are making putts all the time.
You may have heard the saying that ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ – well we disagree.
We believe that ‘Practice Makes Permanent’.
If you keep coming up short in your putts – practising the same thing will enable you to keep coming up short in your putts!