Putting Experiment Results

On the vector putting thread I mentioned that I would play a round of golf… putt my first ball. Mark that score on the card, then putt 4 more balls from that same spot, then putt a sixth ball and count that score also… then compare. The 4 balls in between were only for educational purposes. Never counting.

I hit the ball fairly well. 14 greens in regulation. I upped and downed 3 out of 4 times. Most were simply easy uphill chips from not too far. Was only in trouble once today as I hit one over the green on a long par 3 into some brush.

The idea was not to count the results of balls #2 though #5 rolled on the greens, but to give me a perfect view of how the ball rolled, and exactly what speed was needed to find the hole. Would this help? If I made the first putt, I would still have to make the 6th.

These were my 14 birdie tries in feet (length of putt)

#1 15’
#2 12’
#3 25’
#4 40’
#5 15’
#6 20’
#7 chip to kick in
#8 Bogey
#9 chip to kick in
#10 10’
#11 20’
#12 15’
#13 8’
#14 15’
#15 10’
#16 12’
#17 14’
#18 chip to kick in


anyone care to guess what I shot using the first ball putted compared to the 6th ball putted?
I had no three putts. Greens were medium speed, a bit bumpy from a shotgun event earlier in the day. I played late afternoon. Mare is a par 70 with only one par 5, so birdies have to be earned out there with approach shots.

OK, I’ll take a guess - given the state of the greens I’ll guess that your 6th putts weren’t any better than your first putts.
Overall score of 1 under for both (2 birdies + the bogey).

This reminds me of a scramble situation. If someone makes a decent putt before you, you really should feel that you have a chance to hole it inside 40 feet. I played a scramble in february. We holed everything for a while and had 9 or 10 birdies in a row. Very few of those were gimmies, but we basically holed everything that found the green for a while there.

You certainly have a lot of makable putts there, if you’re able to get the ball rolling in the intended direction and know the line you could hole a bunch.

Must have been some 6-7 putts there where it was a huge advantage getting the line right.

I guess you shaved off three strokes on your 6th ball compared to the first.

What were your slope percentages on each green? :laughing: Just kidding…

Nice problem to have and to me that would be a very rewarding round whether the final answer was 61 or 71. My guess is that putt #1 and putt #6’s results were almost the same. Maybe you made a more lengthy putt with putt #6 someplace and maybe missed a short one that you had previously canned on putt #1. And potentially everything inside of 14 feet was a 50/50 shot with either putts #1 or putts #6. So I’m guessing 3 birds there And all the other longer ones, you jarred one. So -4 +1 from 70 is 67?

But I don’t know if this is a valid test anyway because I’m pretty sure putt #1 is not the same putt as putt #6. This was the genesis behind Pelz’s stimpmeter with 3 parallel chutes because he proved that putt #1 rolled further that putt# 2 if rolled on the same track…

No 3 putts so you were rolling the pill decently however by your own admittance you’re not a great putter.

I’d say with your first ball you holed the 8 footer on 13 which balances out your bogey on 18. I think you holed maybe 2 other putts for a 2 under 68.

With the 6th ball I reckon you holed another 4 putts for a 64.

I am probably missing something but wouldn’t knowing something about the difficulty of the contours influence our estimate of your outcome? … Like variations of hogback, saddle, shelves, gulleys or valley floors feeding into holes, uphill, sidehill, etc…, and combinations with ball/hole locations in these contours… It seems these things must influence how much can be learned/adjusted in the 4 practice putts. Nevertheless, if you repeated this routine on a different course every round for a hundred rounds with the same average distance from the hole for greens in regulation my guess is you would improve by 1 stroke on scoring with the 6th stroke. With just one round on a familiar course and you being a seasoned tournament pro, I would not bet but I would guess you improved at least one stroke if any. Yes, I hedge. :laughing:

After all that putting…unless you have a long putter that’s a lot of bending over. (I’ll leave that bunny out there! :wink: )

If pre-shot routines stayed the same for each and every putt and given the level of concentration needed to make a good putt with the intention of actually making the putt…plus fatigue. My guess: You shot 2 strokes worse. :astonished:

I know that is going out on a limb, but I stand behind my reasoning.

Captain Chaos

I agree with CC.

I say 67 on first try, 69 on the re-do.

I’ll take a punt on 69 then 62.


I really didn’t know what to expect. I figured I would make a few more putts… possibly 5 or 6 more on the 6th. Several times I would miss the first and sixth, but make two or even three of the 2 through 5 balls.

It was really a real learning experience, and I am glad I did it. It’s also something you need to do when basically no one is on the golf course, as nothing would upset players behind you more than dropping 6 balls on the green and putting them all. :imp:

Yesterday was that perfect day at Mare.

Results? Drum roll please…

I only made one natural birdie on the 10th hole, so I shot an even par 70.

On the hole I birdied #10, I also made the 6th try (did miss others), so it was essentially a wash on that hole. However, on my 6th ball I made birdies on #2, and #17 for a 68.

Three of the putts I hit poorly with the first ball, could have gone in with the 6th, as they were either deep cup lip-outs or basically were dead in the jar but hit a bump right before the hole. They certainly would have gone in on perfect greens.

There is no doubt that after 5 rolls, I knew exactly what the line and pace should be. Even knowing that, I didn’t always execute the stroke perfectly and missed the putt. Many of the holes I missed all 6 putts. A few I would make one or two.

I grinded on putts #1 and #6. The others were more casual rolls to just watch and learn. On the 6th ball I would back off, re read the putt from behind and go through my routine completely as I did the first putt.

It was a very interesting experiment.

I did learn that I was definitely not reading every putt correctly. I was not hitting every putt online, and I was not hitting every putt with perfect speed.

These days, I don’t practice putting ever. So I am sure if I did, things would improve considerably. When I was on tour, I practiced putting a ton. And my putting was much better. You can’t really be on tour if you can’t putt at all. But I was far from being a top putter. I would putt well about 3 weeks of the year… and those would usually be the weeks I would contend.

One of the reasons I don’t practice putting now, is to purposely expose my weakness so that I might actually be able to see the path to mastery. I don’t think I could really see my faults when I was practicing. Same logic for using classic gear and learning from purer feedback.

With enough practice, you can make just about anything work. But I think something in my technique was really off when I was on tour. I believe if your technique is good, you don’t have to practice much. Just a bit. I feel where practice would improve me the most would be my feel for speed. A little bit for line, and a bit for reading greens. This would probably improve things to where I might make two extra putts per round, and shoot what I did on the 6th ball.

Certainly there are days I make more than one putt. Recently playing with Slide at Pumpkin Ridge, I birdied 7 of the last 12 holes, but three or four of those I think were kick ins.

Mare, however, is not easy putting. Very sloping greens that are far from perfect surfaces. I can’t expect everything to go in there, even on a good day. I tend to putt better when I play other courses.

I’m not sure one round is a big enough sampling to draw any die hard conclusions. I’ll probably do it again in the next month or so, and see what some of the other results might be.

I did notice my confidence level was greatly increased setting up to the 6th putt… because I knew exactly what the putt needed to go in. Executing that was a different story… but taking all the line - speed uncertainty out of the equation was an interesting perspective.

I think a parallel could be drawn to playing without a yardage book and using one… and really asks a bigger question.
Should feel for speed or weight of the shot be an integral part of the game?

And it this question, we essentially loop back to the original post here. Should players be allowed to use laser topo maps of putting greens to refer to? Laser scopes and so on.

I would pose that all this detracts significantly from a deeper connection to playing the game. The experience you can have from within, to play top golf, feel yardages from the fairway without a scope or a number, or learn or have the ability to instintively read and feel the greens without topographical maps? As Paulsy suggested, it’s a bit like going into a college exam with cheat notes. Which is better? To memorize the material and really understand it? or simply to use the cheat notes to get the “A”. Because it’s really “A” everyone wants… or is it?

Obviously the ruling bodies of the game (whomever they may be) allow these things… but is there value in not using them?
To work on “the feel muscle”… to learn to connect with the overall experience, the wind, humidity, lie, slope and shot shape, and learn to feel the ball into the green, or roll the ball into the hole without assigning numerical value.

Is there a difference within each one of us as golfers if we play it one way against the other? Does a 72 feel better in your own mind as you close your eyes a night, knowing you did it all by feel, as compared to golf’s GPS version?

Just some things to think about… not really right or wrong answers. Only to ponder.

If anyone else finds the opportunity to do this… I would suggest it. It would be interesting to hear other golfers results and experiences. I highly recommend it.

Three under.

I scored!


Well played, by the way.

Interesting experiment. I’ll definitively try something similar when the occation rises. I have a feeling that I putt much better when I know the line, whether it’s real or not. I know I have a mental weakness of not trying hard enough when the odds are one out of 3 or worse. It makes me try less hard to hole it and that costs me a stroke.

6 balls are perhaps a bit too much for the consentration. Three or 4 should be plenty do dial in the speed and line.

I said it in a thread before and i say it again - of course everybody wants the A, or wants the putt to drop, but is it okay to “cheat” or take advantages that not everybody can use? No it isnt, but unforutnately “cheating” has become somewhat standard in our society. Couple a weeks ago i asked a teacher how she passed exams in college, after she admitted she had no clue about certain topics - she openly admitted to cheat her way through classes - great, and these people are let loose on kids to teach them something about values?

Before i picked up the first golf club in my life, i didnt had many of the values that golf tries to promote. Looking at me now, i changed quite a bit, imo to the better. It´s amazing how the game of golf can transform ones personality, but that is happening for a reason - you want to excel, and this is only possible with a proper set of values. And in the end you will achieve your A, longlasting and something you can be proud of.

I had a “mini” -:idea: once when i had one of my playing buddies make a straight 4footer putt 5 times. I told him, just straight at the hole, and i looked from behind the hole how his ball rolled. He was ALL OVER THE PLACE and had an incredible inconsistency in his stroke. Things like that not only will make you read greens incorrect when you have expierence putting them, but they will cause havoc to your confidence. One day you shove it by right, the next time to the left from the same spot and you start wondering whats the actual line. So before you even consider anything else in your putting imo, make sure you putt them straight or at least miss them on a consistent basis, anything else will make your life miserable on course, and all the putting charts of the world cant help you. But it seems to me that quite a bit of people dont even realize how crooked they putt.

I think this experiment is just the tip of the iceberg of what we can learn about putting. One thing I feel strongly about is that a pro such as Lag will benefit from hitting a second, third, fourth, etc… putt because pros very typically will get “dialed in” after a few tries. I bet if I get a bucket of range balls and stand on a 150 yard par 3 by a few balls Lag will be dialed in. Hitting the green an attacking the flag at will. A 10 handicap will not be able to dial in as well. I have seen it at “beat the pro” tournaments where a pro just gets dialed in and can’t miss.

As an engineer I have a thirst for more knowledge about what more we can learn. I would like to know for example, how many putts were uphill/downhill, left to right, right to left. I have found that golfers often have a tendency to misread a certain direction more than the other. Whether there was any tiers that had to be negotiated. Stuff of this nature.

It would also be interesting to use the Aimpoint system discussed in Vector putting and have Lag putt one ball under his own impressions, and then using the aimpoint system telling him where to aim and then try again.

So much fun we could have with this.

Well said kafka01,

Honesty is important on and off the course. In a recent net club competition, the winner carded a 56 and a 60. This was an adult with a long history as a player, not a junior who lives on the course for the whole year and experiences his once in a lifetime super jump down in handicap.

The worst thing was that they handed him the trophy.

I’ve had my fair share of not being able to get the ball rolling on the intended line the last 6 months or so. And when this is the case, I’m having a really hard time reading the putts. Ijust don’t see the line clearly.

And whenever I have a consistent error - like a push - sthe lines I see like straight lines aren’t straight but somehow compensates for the error. And I see breaks that aren’t even there. I have a small chance of holing a few when this happens, but if I ignore the visual illusions the ball will not even get close.

The sub concious seems to know how to deal with my swing faults better than I do conciously.


The thing I would like to know is; how well did you do on putts 2 - 5 when it really didn’t matter, compared to 1 & 6 when it did?

I made a few here and there… but most of the putts were in the 10 to 20’ range, so I wouldn’t expect to make a lot of them, at least not at Mare. My best round there is 65, sometimes I wonder how I did that. It’s not easy getting the ball close to the hole because every fairway shot is from some combo sidehill lie, usually a lot of wind, and the greens are very tricky and sloping. I spend most of my time just trying to leave myself an uphill putt. Even an uphill chip is going to be much easier than a 20 foot putt from above the hole.

Most of the putts I missed all 6. I might have made a total of 7 putts extra for the entire experiment.

I agree, that something like this is just the tip of the iceberg of putting. I think I know a lot about putting. I know a lot of theory, and some interesting methods… but ultimately it is about feel more than mechanics. Some of my best putting has been aiming way left, and push blocking the ball out onto the intended line. I love the theory of it… especially on left to right putts… because if you decelerate, the face usually closes, sending the ball further left, but with less speed… get it?
In other words, those can still go in…

Oddly enough, I consider myself a very good lag putter. I suspect it’s because I am not really trying to make the putt specifically, just get it roughly on line, and make sure my leave is on the correct side of the hole for an easy tap in.
I’m a pretty good short putter also…I don’t have the yips or miss lots of 3 or 5 footers. But I think my numbers really drop off a waterfall from 8 to 20 feet. Like most good players who blame their putting for not scoring as low as they should, I feel like I really lip out way too many putts. I hear this all the time from my contemporaries, for years on tour… and I am sure they are just as tired of hearing about all my lipouts as I am about theirs!

Great experiment Lag. Will have to try it next time I have the course alone :slight_smile:

also I always found that the sub-concious has a large role in putting.

After reading the line/speed setting up over the put etc, I always look at the alignment of my feet as last a double check before putting, most of the time they are pretty much on the correct line for the put (unconcious placement), and there have been times just trusting that read has saved me 1-3 puts a round…


An interesting twist to add to the experiment if anyone else does it or if Lag chooses to repeat it is on the 6th putt instead of looking at the ball when stroking the putt, look at the hole.

There is decent evidence to suggest this is a valid method of putting. If we think of other target sports, the target is the only thing we look at - consider the darts player, baseball pitcher, basketball player, QB in American Football. The list is pretty endless when you begin to consider it.

I also like Rotella’s advice to practice putts trying a little ‘less’ on each putt until you find the right level.

Interesting experiment though.

I am very concious about the neck angle / head angle when I putt. Changing it from the trial strokes to the actual stroke usually means lowering the head and looking more at the ball, and that usually translates to a a clubhead that flips closed in my case. I have to use the same head angles for trial putts and the real putt or manufacture a new stroke as I address the ball.

I think the looking at the hole issue has some relationship to positioning of the head.

Styles, I completely agree that looking at the hole, especially on putts where you still have peripheral view of the ball from the corner of the right eye has great merit.

Robert Gamez, almost putts this way. On his last look at the hole, he starts the putterhead back as his eyes trace back to the ball, so he kind of gets the benefit of both.

Johnny Miller claims he won at Pebble Beach his last time putting all week with his eyes closed.

I had to practice so much when I was on tour to keep putting sharp. I used a Pelz track for years, and would bring that with me on tour. It’s a viable system, but it took such a toll on my back, bending over for hours, that I simply couldn’t continue that method of dead hands and a pure shoulder rocking. To keep it on line, the right shoulder would have to rock a bit toward the line, and the left do the same going through. It never felt natural, and never really working into my “DNA”. It was also completely at odds with my chipping and the rest of my game.

The frustrating thing about putting to me has been it’s elusiveness. Here today, gone the next. I learned to accept that, and just waited patiently for “here today, here today, still here, and even here for a forth day” If those days happen to land on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday during the week of a tournament, there would be a good chance I was depositing a really nice check in the bank Monday morning.

My putting was always subject to complete collapse upon the ring of an alarm clock. Not so much during a round, but more from day to day. If I was putting good early in a round, I could keep that feel during the whole round typically. My problem would happen more upon waking up to a new day. Putting my hands on the club in the wake of a new morning, and the feel would somehow change during the night. The weight seemed to change, sometimes the look of the bottom edge of the blade seemed different, or it might look more open or hook faced… or I could feel the putter wanting to move too outside or the length of my stroke for a given length putt seemed to vary. Sometimes I could simply not hit the putts solid. Why did things change during the night? I remember once staying up all night and not sleeping to avoid this happening… it worked to some degree, but I felt pretty horrible during the round.

The changes in ball striking would never be so extreme. I would feel slight differences, but I could easily adjust, or just play the days shot shaping tendency.

With putting, you don’t need to be off much to miss putts. The difference between a round of 27 putts and 32 (5 shots) is 20 shots over the course of a week. That’s winning the tournament… or standing in the bread line. It’s very easy to miss 5 putts in a round you might have made the day before.

However, with ball striking, The difference between hitting 11 and 16 greens is not likely to show a five stroke difference on the score card. Maybe if you hit 5 greens compared to 16 greens. But I don’t think I ever hit 16 greens then only 5 greens the next day. For me at least, having good technique, I don’t see ball striking ever being that volatile. Missing a green or a fairway is simply not the same penalty as missing a putt… although I would not be opposed to Hogan’s suggestion that putting should only count as half a shot.

I suppose the changes in ball striking from day to day seem a lot more manageable than changes in how the ball is coming off the putter head.