If you're familiar with my philosophies, you know how seriously I take the scoring game, and how important it is to your overall score. My research on putting and wedge play is now stretching into its fourth decade, so that's the area where I can help you the most.
Of course, there isn't enough room here to cover everything I've discovered in more than 30 yearswe'll save that for future issues of GOLF Magazine. (Look for the new "Pelz Files" beginning in September.) What you can learn right now, however, are the must-have elements of creating Tour-like touch from 100 yards and in. It's the same information I give to students in my Scoring Game Schools, and it can help you, too.
It's your bad shots and weaknessesnot your strengthsthat largely determine your scores. Take what I know, make it your own, and turn 2006 into your best season ever.
Pelz On: Putting
The best putters have three things in common: good green reading, starting lines and speed control
More than 40 percent of all golf shots are putts, and over half of those are short ones. But how short are your short putts? This question is critical since the conversion percentage for all golfers drops off rapidly as putt length increases from 2 feet to 10 feet. That should tell you that your focus should be on getting your chips, pitches and lag putts closer to the hole. Every foot counts, and if you can get your ball just that much nearer to the target, your putts per round will plummet.
Let Face Angle Be Your Guide
Golfers spend a lot of time practicing stroke path because it seems to make sense-move your putter in the direction you want your putt to roll. This is wrong, however. Research data shows that where the face angle of your putter is aimed at impact determines where the ball travels. Study the two factors of a solidly struck putt and you'll discover that face angle determines 83 percent of the starting line while putter path direction determines 17 percent. In other words, a square face angle is five times more important to starting putts on line than putter path.
Try This: \"Chiputt\" the Long Ones
The longer the putt, the more likely you are to leave it short, because your stroke (and everyone else's) naturally evolves to favor accuracy over power. You can overcome this tendency by adding a chipping motion to your putting stroke-think of it as "chipping with your putter." On super-long putts, stand upright for a better perspective on distance, and then putt with the same body motion you use to chip with a 5-iron. On 75- to 110-foot putts, every golfer I've tested, including Tour professionals, lags closer to the hole with the "chiputt" method.
Find the Right Speed for Every Putt
Both putts at right were started on the same line. Notice how the first one (the yellow ball), released too low from my TruRoller device, rolled too slow and missed short and below the hole. The second putt (the white ball) rolled too fast and missed on the high side. So what's the lesson? Simple: Speed affects the line, and good speed is critical for putting success. So what do you do? You must find a way to roll putts 17 inches past the hole (when they miss). Research proves that putts have a greater chance of finding the cup (regardless of putt length) when the ball rolls at this speed.
My advice is to add a "speed evaluation" to your analysis of missed putts. For eve ry missed putt, determine if the ball rolled short or long of the preferred 17-inch-past distance. Over time, using this analysis will help you adjust your putting touch for good speed control.
From the Pelz School: How to Minimize Three-Putts
The odds of holing a putt longer than 35 feet are not high, but the chance of three-putting from this distance is good. Here's how to avoid those roundkilling three-putts:
On all putts longer than 35 feet, imagine that the hole is a 6-foot circle and try to get your ball within the circumference of it. This makes the putt look much easier, and you'll actually end up holing one every once in a while. You can also use this circle rule on putts from less than 35 feet, but make sure you get the ball past the cup. I call this region the "Safe Zone." When you're rolling the ball into the Safe Zone, you're rolling it great.