An idea for bringing focus back to ballstriking

Derived from Hogans quote one putt should only count as 1/2 a stroke. why not make every eagle/birdie putt that drops count as half a stroke and every other putt as a full stroke. Now make the greens slower by not cutting them as low and all of a sudden you give the players a huge incentive to go for flags and do it accuratly and stick it close, otherwise they will have a more difficult time dropping their putts from bigger distances. As we all know - the further we are away from the club, the less our conversion percentage is. The more imperfect the green is, the less likely we drop a putt from e.g. 15feet compared to the same length but on a very smooth putting green we see day in & day out on tour.

  • It would promote the value of good ball striking from tee to green, and players would start working on getting better results from ballstriking, instead of going the other way round switching to more forgiving clubs when their ballstriking gets worse
  • it creates a better risk/reward ratio for going for flags instead of just hitting it in the “heart of the green” and therefor creating more excitement for the people who watch golf tournaments or of course for the players, be it professionals or amateurs, themselves
  • By making the greens slower, it would lower the expectations of amateur golfers they have of greens they play on. Greens dont need to be perfectly smooth and running 13 on a stimpmeter to play well. By reducing green speed, golf clubs could save money. Greenkeepers also could be more consistent with choosing their greenspeeds throughout the year.
  • When you punish mishits more severly it might put distance behind accuracy.

IMO. the idea Hogan had back then, making all putts count only 1/2 a stroke wouldnt work that way today, considering that back then putting was much more “inconsistent” than it is today on the highest levels of golf, mainly thanks to technology and very pure greens. If you would apply Hogans idea today, they could just keep bombing it out there and pitching onto the green from anywhere, still attempt to make their under par putts, but the only incentive would be to make the ball touch the green and finish off from there. What would happen is probably we would see people trying to push the limits on distance even further and neglecting accuracy. So you have to have a premium on accuracy.

So what do you think about this?

I’m all for it!

I used to lick my chops when I arrived at a tournament with less the perfect greens. On bad greens, if I hit a putt offline, I still feel I have a chance that the ball might kick back online and go in. On perfect greens, once I send it offline, I’m cooked. The great putters complain because they know they are not going to make everything, so their advantage is taken away. They would still make more putts than me, but not as many… but I knew my ball striking would be giving me a lot more opportunities to luck a few in.

I once won a tournament on crab grass greens… chipped in on the first sudden death playoff hole.

A guy I played a lot with when I picked up golf started to brag about how well he was putting from early on. “Yea” I thoght “Just because you have a lot of 1-putts doesn’t mean that you’re putting well. Especially when you always seem to have a chip from the greenside first”.

But waddayaknow, after a couple of years he was a killer with the putter.

This person was had the mental buildup that he didn’t care how he was winging the club as long as it got the job done. He had a very odd looking swing - almost a DIY single axis swing - basically doing everything almost but not entirely opposite of ABS.

But for what it’s worth - I think his mental receipt: “I don’t care how I strike the ball” + “I’m a great putter” really turned him into a great putter. He holed putts from everywhere with his vintage blade putter - even from 10 yards outside the greens.

OTOH, I think that the mental package - the attitudes that leads to great ball striking is a little control frekish and counter productive for good putting.

I was a crappy putter when I started to play golf. For several years I worked on my stroke diligently and found a way to make solid ball contact ever so often. And I tried to hit the perfect putting stroke out one the course. Eventually I realised that I didn’t hole more putts on days where I had a more solid putting stroke. Distance control was better though. Eventually I decided to stop caring about the stroke and do whatever it takes to get the ball rolling on the right line. It helped a lot. Putting is less about preparing for a good stroke and trust it - and a lot more about willing to get the ball in the hole. I think you still need a good stroke to get the job done, but you also need an attitude as if you don’t really care how you get the ball on the line as long as it gets on the line.

I am still not a great putter so maybe I’m wrong about this. But I have met many great ball strikers who struggle on the greens and it doesn’t see like a coincidence to me.

There’s a strange sort of glorification of bad putting around here sometimes, and I don’t think it helps anyone. As Gary Player said, “don’t have lunch with putters”. It’s just as much a part of the game as striking the ball. All great players were great putters, even Hogan. Demeret said he never missed a putt for money. If there’s a problem with the game, it’s not because of good greens and good putters. I have a list of things that I call “Just Fooking Deal With It”… the general idea of it is that some things just have to get done so they don’t require any more contemplation. I happen to like putting, so that’s not on my list. But it’s definitely one of those things that, even if you don’t like, you’re just going to have to “fooking deal with”… :slight_smile:

Learning to strike the ball well, takes a lot of time - as does learning to putt well. But finding the right balance practicing the different areas of golf is easier said than done. Aside from your arguments, this might be another reason for the fact that there are not many people out there who are great ball strikers AND great putters.

Sorry Bom, but i´m not “glorifying bad putting” in any way in my post. The main idea behind it was to promote accuracy instead of distance.
Personally i think it would be very difficult to take away distance from the players. If you marketed a sport on distance for a long time, you can´t just turn around 180° and do the opposite. It might hurt the game A LOT.

Now you have to think of something that makes accuracy more tempting, and thats what i tried to articulate with my idea.

It wasn’t actually directed at you, Kafka, and I wasn’t knocking your idea. I meant ‘around here sometimes’ in a literal sense. I guess it was in a thread started by you, so apologies if it came across as against you. It’s just a general feeling I’ve gotten over time here and I don’t think it helps.
My two cents on the issue is if they let the rough grow a bit off the fairway AND off the green, and only watered the greens enough to keep the grass alive, then accuracy would start to be more of a focus because the ball would have to be struck in order to hold the green. But that doesn’t create super low scores, or do much for tv ratings, and in turn, sponsors, so we get to watch darts coming in from every angle and from every distance. But these guys out there are still really good at golf, make no mistake about that. It’s been discussed before, but the way the game has changed has made some of the skills different, but they’re still really good golfers.

And this is why a split in the game would make most sense, it’s changed way too much to go back. But there’s also a human nature thing going on with it, pushing the limits and all that. Plus it’s fun to hit far, I’ve got no problem with that at all. My overall main problem with technology is what it’s doing to the playability of classic golf courses, in particular the links courses in Ireland and Britain. Watching the British Open over the last 10 years just doesn’t look like a fair fight to me, the holes don’t actually exist for the most part- the fairway bunkers, that were integral to the tension that made that such a good tournament, just get blown by now. Technology has also eliminated most of the clubs in the bag, ie. the irons, and that’s where quality ball striking will make or break you. 3 through 6 or 7 iron has been basically eliminated from the game, barring par 3’s, and you get to do that off a tee if you want to. This has all been said before in one way or another. But we still have to putt- that’s the point I was trying to make.

Like the serve in tennis, I too feel the short game is too heavily weighted in golf. If I walk off the course feeling like I played well, then I’d expect my score to reflect that. Yet, my lowest scoring rounds have always come from very average, even poor ball-striking rounds, just a hell of a lot of up and downs (record = 15, anyone beat that?). I walk off from those thinking ‘boy I was lucky today’, not ‘I played well.’

And then rounds like last Friday I hit the ball consistently great through the round, lots of memorable shots, but walked off 6 worse than handicap? Because chips and long putts ended up that simple extra foot or two from the hole making the next one so much easier to miss.

It’s that disparity between how you feel you played and your score that makes me feel the game is unbalanced. It feels wrong that a lip out from 10 feet costs you as much as a water hazard.

So why do you feel like you play well when you’re not able to get the ball in the hole, steb? And why do you feel like you play play bad when you’re successful with the most important shots in golf?

Personally I enjoy an ugly scrambled par much more than a glitch free FIR + GIR par. The more impossible the birdie shot is the more satisfying it is to make a par.

I once read that the most important shot in golf is the birdie shot. I couldn’t agree more. It’s also the most fun shot to play well, whether you’ve got a good chance for making birdie or you need a miracle to save par.

It’s a good question lefthook. I’ll have a think about that today.

I’ll be getting some putters here from time to time to discuss things…

I like to hear from great putters, what they think, feel, and how they evolved their technique.

I’ll be posting a conversation I recorded last week with PGA Tour winner and US Amateur Champion Sam Randolph which I think you will all enjoy. Sam is a very articulate guy, who was one of the best persimmon players I ever saw in my life during his dominant play in the 1980’s, and a fantastic putter as well as a great ball striker. You simply can’t win all those tournaments if you can’t putt.

Great. Sounds very interesting…