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Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Putting Tip from Bobby Locke

Continuing my attempt to make shorter posts this weekend because there's so much US Open coverage (and other golf) on TV, I offer this short quote from Gary Player's book Don't Choke: A Champion's Guide to Winning Under Pressure.
Bobby Locke was one of the finest putters the game has ever seen. Locke's philosophy on putting was that it is always better to leave a putt a little bit short than run it past the hole.

It is completely contrary to what you always hear. As golfers, we are taught from an early age to never leave a putt short. Sayings such as "Never up, never in" or "The hole won't come to you" are drilled into us. It's almost as if it's shameful to leave a putt short of the hole. But I've never seen one that goes past the hole go in either. And frankly, I'd rather be a few inches short of the hole than three feet past it.

Locke's reasoning was that if you hit a putt at just the right speed, it can drop in anywhere in the front of the hole, on the side or even at the back. But if you hit a putt hard, there's only one place it can go in, and that's in the center of the hole.

Throughout my career I've discovered that for every putt you charge at the hole, you sink ten putts with the right speed. (p110)
As Gary Player says, this goes against what we're taught. And to be honest, it's embarrassing and heartbreaking when you leave the ball just on the lip. But unless you're willing to take the risk, you may never learn to putt consistently.

This philosophy is how I like to putt also. Still, I'm willing to admit there are times when a "stronger" putt seems reasonable. On occasion, stroking the ball a bit harder to take out some of the break may make sense. But just remember that such a play is risky and may cost you more shots than you would have lost if you had just accepted a two-putt. Locke's philosophy is the best play, most of the time.

If you're interested in looking at the book, here's a link to its page at Amazon. And no, I don't profit from any sales. However, there's an older edition for sale as well, and this link takes you to the new edition. The new edition is the one I used for this post.

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