It has been said that you “Drive for Show and PUTT for Dough!” Well it was certainly the motto this past weekend as Stacy Lewis rolled some amazing putts for her come from behind victory at the Old Course. She did have some great course knowledge going in to the British having played on the Curtis Cup team back in 2008 where she went 5 and 0 in her matches. I’m sure she conjured up some positive memories of putts rolling through hill and dale only to find their way to the bottom of the cup!
I always like to look at a player’s statistics following the tournament and this one really peaked my interest. The stats at the end the final round for both Inbee Park and Stacy Lewis were actually fairly close. Both players hit their driver consistently longer with each round and in the final round; they differed by only 1.5 yards. The Fairways Hit category had Lewis topping Park by only 2. Greens in Regulation differed by only one, Park edging out Lewis in that category. The real difference was in putting. In the final round, Park had 40 putts to Lewis’ 33 and their overall total for the tournament differed by 19 strokes with Park at 143 and Lewis at 124.There is no doubt that Inbee Park had the attention of the world on her as she entered the tournament. If Inbee Park had won The Ricoh Women’s British Open she would have been the first person man or woman, to win 4 majors in one season! The Grand Slam of Golf. I’m certain that added to the pressure of making putts although she herself admitted that she couldn’t quite get the speed of the greens, as they were slower than what was typical. Her prowess on the greens is legendary and some say that she is the best putter of any player on any tour male or female! I think it may even be true, however for this particular event, her putter wasn’t cooperating as it had in other events and that made the difference.
If there is a takeaway from this event, it is putting. Putting is hugely important and something you can’t avoid. It happens on every single hole, whether we want it to or not. And the funny thing, when playing a round of golf there’s nothing like the feeling of rolling a long putt into the cup. It is amazing what happens to your round when the little white ball rolls up, down and over the green only to find it’s way to the bottom of the cup. The first thing that happens is the feeling of pure joy! Ahhhhh…the sound of the ball falling into the cup is one of the most unique sounds on the planet and also one of the most satisfying sounds a golfer can hear. To hole out with a long putt is awesome. To save par with any putt is fantastic. Inevitably, putting is critical to the success of the round. The more they fall in, the better everything else seems to be. There are also some side effects to putting however, and they can be good or bad depending on how you’re doing.
If you make a putt to save par or roll a long one in for birdie, you leave that hole feeling great and a bit more at ease. Your next tee shot will seem to have less stress placed on it because you’re now building on the successful putt from the previous hole. If it goes the other way, and you missed your 3 foot par putt then your next tee shot tends to have a little more tension and you’re likely to be placing a bit more weight on the success of the shot in order to make up for the missed putt from the previous hole. This ends up carrying through the hole and you tend to push and force shots coming in to the green. This is really true if you’ve missed a few putts in a row. Now the tension is greater and you’re likely to be forcing shots more than what is typical.
There’s a difference between being aggressive on a shot into a green or forcing a shot to make up for something you’ve missed. This of course, circles back to whether or not you’re present in your shot making or dwelling on past shots. (A topic I touch on regularly) In any event, when you have a good putting round of golf, the other shots you make are likely to be more relaxed and this generally improves the quality of those shots overall. Better putting will undoubtedly equal a lower score. So if you only have 30 minutes to practice, rather than head on over to the range, stop by the putting green and roll some putts. You’ll hear the sound we all love to hear, that little white ball falling to the bottom of the cup!