Golf Talk With Greg Holman – #27

Click play to listen to Greg’s Podcast, or read below.

Since I’ve been hot with the putter as of late, I thought I would give you a putting lesson this week. I’ve also read several books on putting so this really isn’t just advice from me, but some things the best PGA players in history can agree on. But, first, a quick recap of last weekends tour stop in Tampa, FL at the Valspar at Innisbrook Resort and the Copperhead Course. I was lucky enough to play this track several years ago, and I’m not sure I could break 90 on my best day. It’s a tough course.

Coming down to the back 9 on Sunday, it was apparent that it was going to be a two horse race on the day of the Kentucky Derby. A match between the veteran Keegan Bradley and Sam Burns who has yet to win on the PGA Tour. There’s no question Bradley’s a great player and proven winner, but he does have an awkward swing and sometimes I wonder if that motion can be repeated successfully under the gun. On the other hand Burns has a classic textbook swing with youth on his side. He showed steady nerves on the green unlike Bradley, who had his chances to stay in the match but you can’t miss putts inside 6 feet down the stretch. The 13th hole is where the tournament took a turn for the worse for Bradley who mishit an 8 iron at the par 3 and ended up in the water short of the green to card a double bogey. Another short putt miss at 15 and the tournament belonged to Burns. He ended up winning by 3 but Keegan made a putt on the 18th to secure 2nd place alone.

So about that putting lesson, I’ve always believed it’s not the putter, it’s the puttee. I’ve been playing golf for 50 years and have only had 7 putters. The first was little Ben. It was a cutoff Ben Hogan putter that I used from age 10 to 13. The second was an Arnold Palmer Blade that served me well in my teens, but the head was never right after hitting too many full shots with it just for fun. I had another Blade I picked up off the rack at the pro shop for a few weeks, then I was given a Pacer B which I putted with in my late teens that was also blade, and then I finally broke down and bought a Ping Powell which I still have today. Two years ago I received another Ping putter as a Christmas present, which I lost, and my dad bought me another Ping putter with a big head this past Christmas. I practiced on my living room carpet because I was in a big putting slump with the yips, and not able to hit the putt on the sweet spot. After putting poorly for 5 years I started experimenting with my stroke. Most good putters agree, your head should be directly over the ball. Most promote a pendulum stroke with the arms and the shoulders rather than the wrist. I converted to that method, and stopped worrying about 3 putting or putting defensively. I made sure I didn’t rush, and hit the ball on the sweet spot, and followed through while looking at the line and not the hole. It worked! On the 2nd round of the season I had only 12 putts through 9 holes. So I guess practice does make perfect, or at least better. I’m going to continue to practice and see that score drop into the upper 30’s later this summer.

Hit ’em straight.