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.
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.