WHO: Kevin Na
WHAT: 43-foot birdie putt
WHERE: 196-yard par 3 17th hole at TPC Summerlin
WHEN: Final round of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Na, 28, sealed his first Tour victory in 211 starts by holing a long, roller-coaster putt that could have easily been a three-putt. But Na was confident because he was on a roll with his flatstick: for the week, he led the field in putts-per-round (27.0) and he didn’t have a three-putt all week.
THE DRILL: With a long putt, there are three possible results: a one-putt, a two-putt or a three-putt. Your goal should be to two-putt. A one-putt should be your secondary goal. And you should do whatever you can to avoid a three-putt. Three-putting is horrible, because it means you’re throwing away strokes.
To improve long putting, try my Bump The Fringe game. Stand in the middle of a green 30 to 40 feet from the fringe. Take a bucket of balls and hit putts toward the fringe. The goal for each shot is to have the ball stop at the edge of the fringe, i.e. where the fringe meets the green. It’s unlikely that many balls will stop at the edge, but don’t worry. You should consider a shot successful if the ball stops within two feet of the fringe’s edge, either long or short of it.
After you get good at Bump The Fringe, try playing it with your eyes closed. After hitting each putt, keep your eyes closed and guess if the ball is long, short or on the edge. Doing this will help improve your feel for how you’re hitting your long putts.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher John Elliott teaches at St. Andrews Golf & Country Club in West Chicago, Ill.