Entries Tagged as 'Putting'

The challenge continues!

It is some time since I posted – and my golf has continued to progress (and periodically regress) over the last few years.

Gawler 4thOver the last few years  my golf has improved, and I AM hitting the ball better and am capable of better scores. For a brief period of one week a handicap of 1.0 was achieved – and then back to a playing handicap of 2.While manageable on my home course the challenge of playing on other a new track, and playing close to my handicap, is still great.

With the opportunity to play in the South Australian Senior Amateur came a chance to test the “new and improved” game in a different setting. After three competition rounds it became clear that home ground advantage is great, and playing on a  variety of courses under competition conditions is important to raise the standard of your game.

Gawler Golf Club, at Sandy Creek in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, is a sandbelt  country course,with kikuyu fairways and well maintained greens.

Gawler 2013Unusually each nine starts with a par 5  (parallel holes). And there is one quirky hole – the 8th. A blind tee shot over a rise to a narrowing fairway is the  most unusual, and perhaps the worst aspect of the course design. Despite this it is an interesting hole.

The 8th was difficult but manageable. Three rounds – bogey, par, birdie.  Any drive over 200 metres needs to hug the right of the narrowing fairway or it will run into the rough down the hill on the left. The approach, from a downhill lie, needs to be right of the flag to avoid bunkers on the left, and  stay on the left sloping green. Once on the green the problems are not over. Any putt over about three feet is easily miss-able.  My par was the result of a missed four foot putt, the birdie a 12 metre putt, left breaking about 8 feet and running down the hill! Go figure!

Gawler 10thThe ‘easy’ par 5’s (at less that 450 metres) proved difficult. No bunkers, but a well placed second shot is needed to be in a position to see down the hill to see the small greens that seem to slope away toward the back.  Despite being capable of reaching these greens easily in three my score against par for the 6 times I played these holes was 7 over!

While scoring better on the shortest hole on the course (4th Par 3 97 metres downhill) three putts on two occasions on this vast green did not help my overall result.

At the end of the competition I walked away in 19th place, and ranked 219 on the Australian Seniors Order of Merit from my one Seniors event for 2013.


What did I learn from the experience?

  1. Good driving and high Fairways in Regulation % does not guarantee good scores.
  2. The short game is king…. too many three putts doesn’t help your score or confidence
  3. A few good holes is not enough to have a good score. Day 2 included a 7 over nine, with two triple bogeys!
  4. Confidence is vital.
  5. A home club handicap is not a true reflection of a golfers capability.
  6. In the end it is only a game.




So near and yet…

A little extra bit of work and a serious start to lifting my mental game were part of this week’s preparation. Did it pay off?  Yes…and NO.

Generally my driving was better.  50% of fairways hit doesn’t sound like a great deal of improvement, but only one of those five required a creative recovery. Even then it was only about five metres from the cut surface.

My bunker play was good – with two sand saves, and one GIR from a  fairway bunker.

For over two thirds of the round my thinking and approach was good – and my ‘course plan’ was sound.  At times I was let down by execution that was not quite right.

So how did I go with this strategy? Answer: after the 15th I was on track to play to my handicap, despite missing a 2 foot par putt on 13. Three holes later another point had been added to my stableford score and five more shots had been taken than my handicap allowed.

The statistics:

FIR: 50%  GIR: 50% PPG in Reg: 2.22 Score: 31 points. Handicap: 4.9 for another week.

Close … but not there yet

A magnificent day in Hobart, no breeze and a little dew adding a layer of moisture for the first five or six holes. Perfect for golf.

After the normal warm up the game got under way.  On the practice fairway things were good, and the first drive split the middle of the fairway. Five shots later my first double bogey was on the card – not a good start in a stroke round. 40% of my handicap gone with 17 holes to play. 

A birdie putt on 11 (my second hole) was on line but just short.  Blast!  Then followed a birdie, only to give the shot straight back with a three putt bogey. Four pars followed before bunker hopping to a bogey on 18. Three over at the turn was OK.

Splitting the fairway on one was followed by a slightly mishit 3 iron, and a one meter putt for a birdie.  From two metres my birdie putt didn’t even graze the hole on  4, and the next two holes yielded two double bogeys.  A shocking drive precipitated the first double, and the next was poor course management par excellence.  Five shots were given away in just three holes. A fortunate bounce off a tree left my ball on the fairway at 7, and after a good aproach the putt dropped for a birdie.  That shot was  given back on the next hole after my chip landed on the putting surface instead of  the fringe and my four metre putt lipped the hole.  Six over with one hole to play. On the 9th (my last hole) one centimetre was all that stood between playing to my handicap or not. Right on line is no good if the putt stops short of the  lip! 

The result was a 78, nett 73 – and my handicap went down 0.1 as  this round replaced a 7 over round in my top ten.


FIR: 57%  Driving distance 237 metres*

GIR 72%  PPG 1.833 (32 putts) Average first putt distance 22.39 feet.

 * Driving distance is based on two holes going in opposite directions as per PGA tour stats. Average drive distance for all open driving holes was 223 metres. Monthly medals are played off the back tees, and distances to the green are marked on sprinkler heads.

Related posts:

Signs of hope

It worked on the golf course, but not on the scoreboard!

Extra efforts over recent months to raise my game to the next level are bearing fruit.  A slight correction yesterday (shortening my backswing) made a huge difference on the course. It certainly did improve my score.

Statistically: FIR  64%  GIR 50%  Putting 1.67 = 30 putts.  Score = 75  (3 over)

This is my best round on this course by three shots. As always, it could have been much better. Three shots were dropped in the last three holes. A 115 downwind approach was pushed right at 16, and compounded by an overhit bunker shot, an ordinary chip and a missed 5 footer meant a double bogey, and a short chip on 18 added to my pain.

Highlights: Four birdies (including three of the four par 5’s).  Most satisfying was the driving, with only two holes where I needed to shape my second shot to get to the green. Both of those however resulted in bogeys.

Lowlights: Three putts on the par 3 4th, and a bogey on the short 5th put a halt on a promising start.

Summary: I am on my way to better golf and a lower handicap is just around the corner.

Work areas this week: Bunker play – 3 greenside bunkers but no up and downs

BTW: 38 points on my card did not translate to 38 points in Golflink, but that story is for another day!

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Five iron and putter

After consecutive three putts from under five feet left its mark on my psyche. Errant drives with at least five “chip-outs” was actually more costly.  With these two things in mind two clubs were taken to the course – a five iron and putter.

A hundred balls on the practice fairway with the five iron was a step towards embedding my swing changes.  Playing four or five holes (including the tragic 7th) was a way of dealing with the putting demons.

On the practice fairway the use of my right hand began to sink in. For years the left side has been dominant. Hitting twenty shots in a row along my aim line suggests that the changes are settling in. This consistency is something that has not been part of my previous experience.

On the course the tragic 7th was revisited. Saturday this 339 metre par 4 included a hooked drive, a pitch for position, a 70 meter pitch to within 1.5 meters and 3 putts. Monday night a five iron of the tee, a five iron to the green, and then out came the putter. Two balls were on in regulation – followed by a 3 putt bogey from 18 metres and a birdie from 2 metres.

The lesson: Keeping the ball in play (on or close to the fairway) is more important than distance.

The challenge: Leave the driver in the bag on this short dogleg.

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Facts vs. Feelings

At the end of the day the ball striking was pleasing. Off the club so many shots felt good, and I was generally happy with my swing.  At least two birdie opportunities were from under ten feet. The score card told another story – 28 points!

Statistics: FIR 21%  GIR 27%  Putts 34. None of them were good!

After 5 holes I was two over, but on handicap. The next four holes included one penalty drop (unplayable lie) and 10 putts, 9 of those putts came from within 6 feet of the hole.  A downhill birdie putt from 4 foot on the 6th kicked off an appalling sequence which ended with a missed 2 foot bogey putt on the 9th. Six shots dropped in four holes. 

Looking beyond the putting lapses there were 5 drives where it was not possible to go for the green. The fnal score was not helped by two penalty strokes – my one hooked tee shot ended in water on 14, and a sliced 2 hybrid on 9 (after a  magnificent drive that was on the fairway) ended in an impossible lie in the tea tree.

In summary, the good is very good, but the bad was horrid.  It was one of those days. All golfers live for the day when it is all good. Roll on that day!

Putting – the eyes have it!

There is a lot of free information on how to improve your game on the internet. Sometimes its a reminder of stuff you already know, other times you glean something new.

Check out this link about putting, eyesight, images and memory. http://www.docsgolftips.com/v2/pirateputting.php

Something to think about in terms of pre-shot routines.

Three by three, and another 0.1

Back at Royal Hobart for the Monthly medal this weekend. Conditions were cool and the sky was overcast. There was little breeze. In other words, it was a perfect day for golf.

In preparation I was at the course at least 30 minutes before tee off.  About 30 shots on the practice fairway, a few chips and a few putts and I was ready to go.  During the week I had managed to get out on the course once, and spent time most days indoors on putting and chipping technique.

At the end of the day I signed for a 78, net 73. CCR  was 71 (Par 72), and the handicap went out to and exact 5.0.

Statistically:  FIR  64%   GIR 50% Putts 32 = PPH 1.77

Practically 4 errant drives meant playing for position rather than going for the green, and three three-putt greens were costly. Of five realistic birdie attempts (putts of 3 metres or less) on one was converted. A little improvement in any of these areas and lower scores should result.

The plan this week:  practice twice working to embed changes to my set up and swing. More time needs to be spent on the driver, and on the putting green.

State of Play

My first competition round in three weeks was OK.  The handicap remains at 4.6 after a 78. 

The Club

%th GreenThe decision to join Royal Hobart was fairly clear. Tasmania is a more spectacular course, and there was some attraction to that club. While the costs are comparable the major factor in my choice was the differnece in practice facilities. The range at Tasmania is a “pro balls only” range. There is a  similar area at the Royal, but they also offer alternative areas including a short game range, and a chipping green.   Currently Royal Hobart is ranked in the top 50 public access courses in Australia, while Tasmania makes the next 50. Reports on the condition of the course confirm that ranking.  

The  Round

My first round was OK, marred by one three putt at 18, a bunker to bunker double bogey on 14, and some bad thinking  on my final hole, the 9th.   Aspects that I continue to work on are Driving (too many drives just off the fairway), approaches between 120 and 50 metres, and putting.  34 putts is at least 4 too many!

Subtle slopes on the greens continue to confuse, and increased familiarity with the course can only help in the green reading process. Then I will need to get the putts on line!    


Practice this week….not really. A few one hand swings indoors,  nine holes Friday night, and nine holes at Richmond Valley Course on the previous weekend.  More intentional practice and a chat to the pro are on the agenda for this week.

Focus your practise

Steve Stricker topped the USGA putting leader board with an average of 1.726 putts per hole, just over 31 putts per round. His scoring average was 69.5. Almost half his shots were on the green, and if the 14 drives are added 45 of his 70 shots are with driver of putter. The USPGA website records his driving accuaracy at 66.8% and Greens in regulation at 66.7% (as at 4/12/2009). That means that for about 6 holes each round he was pitching, chipping, or playing from sand bunkers.

A little time analysing our own rounds will pay dividends and point us to the areas that need practice. For the average golfer at least 45 shots will be with driver or putter. Add the par 5’s and there are probably four long irons or fairway woods to be played. Rest of the shots will be played to or around the greens.

So… if you want to shoot lower scores consistently practice putting, chipping and pitching, and then your driving.  All those hours spent hitting full shots with your long or mid-irons on the range may be fun, but practising your short game and putting will really improve your game.