Putting Really, Really Matters!

I don’t know about you, but I was holding my breath as Patrick Reed stood over his 3 ½ foot, uphill putt on the 18th green to win the Masters by one shot over Rickie Fowler.  It’s not because I was rooting for the guy.  In fact, I wanted Jordan Spieth to win – and he almost did by shooting a remarkable final-round, 8-under-par 64 to Reed’s 1-under 71.

After Spieth bogeyed the 18th, I turned my attention to Rickie Fowler, who had started the day in third place, five shots behind Reed and two behind Rory McIlroy.  Fowler went on a putting tear, birdieing six out of the last 11 holes, including one on the last hole.  His 7-foot birdie putt on 18 put him in solo second, which meant that Reed had to par the 18th in order to prevent a sudden-death playoff.

Reed’s second shot into the 18th green was 20 feet ABOVE the hole, which meant “he just had to blow on it” to get the ball to the hole.  The good news was that Reed’s ball went past the hole, which left him with a Masters-winning, life-changing uphill putt.  The bad news was that the putt was certainly not a gimme.  As Bobby Jones, a 13-time Major winner and the co-founder of Augusta National, said, “Long ago I learned that no putt is short enough to take for granted.”  Nineteen seconds after marking his ball and taking one breath, Reed became a green-jacket wearer.

Frankly, I get shaky over a 4-foot putt, Saturday-morning putt that would mean $6 and gloating rights for an hour in the Men’s Grill.  I know professionals are out-of-this-world good, but as I watched the Masters on Sunday, I re-remembered just how important putting is.  Just look at the numbers below!  The top 3 finishers – Reed, Fowler and Spieth – did not have one three put on Sunday and averaged less than 1.5 putts per hole. Rory McIlroy averaged 1.67 putts per hole.  Bottom line: Reed had 25 putts on Sunday versus Rory’s 30.



2018 Masters average putts per hole (number of three-putts) 







Patrick Reed


1.39 (1)

1.56 (1)


1.44 (2)

Rory McIlroy


1.61 (1)


1.67 (1)

1.51 (2)

Rickie Fowler


1.83 (3)



1.57 (3)

Tiger Woods

1.56 (1)



1.78 (2)

1.62 (3)

Jordan Spieth

1.33 (1)

1.83 (2)

1.83 (1)


1.62 (4)

 In the May 2018 issue of Golf magazine, Dave Pelz drove home that point with his shot chart based on a score of 96 on a Major-caliber course.


No. of Shots & Percentage


40 (42%)


19 (20%)


14 (15%)


20 (21%)


  3 (3%)

Total Score

96 (100%)

Now that I have mentally re-established the importance of putting, I am passing on five tips that might help us:

“One thing all great putters have in common, regardless of their style, is that the putting stroke is approximately the same length back and through.” – Harvey Penick (1905 to 1995), from Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book

“The most important aspect of putting is controlling distance.  Distance is more important than line.  I can be two feet off line, but if I’ve got the distance right, I should be okay.  What controls distance?  Shoulders and arms.  When you set up over the ball, you want the club up in the palm.  That keeps the wrist movement to a minimum.” – Stan Thirsk (1928 to 2015), from his book, All Things Golf

“During my prime I tried to keep the putter square to the line of the putt throughout the stroke, and did my putting that way.  I wanted the putterface looking at the point of aim, straight back and straight through. – Tom Watson, winner of eight Majors

“When putting I focus on keeping my head steady all the way from address to impact. At address I trigger the backswing by gently pulling the putter-head back with my right hand. On the forward stroke my goal is simply to return the putter squarely to the ball. I have the sense that my left hand guides the blade through the ball.” – 5-time Major winner Seve Ballesteros (1957 to 2011)

“No Peeking!  If you’re like me, you can’t wait to see if the ball is tracking toward the hole right after the ball leaves the putterface.  But the urge to glance up too soon has some nasty consequences.  The tendency to peek too soon causes my head to move and leads to sloppy contact.” – Tiger Woods, 14-time Major winner.

Putt Away!

Allan (10.4 Index; Home Course Handicap 12)


Photo by Bradley P. Johnson Creative Commons/Flickr

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