Scramble to Make Money Putts

We all wish we could hit a high draw 6 iron 210 yards. We all wish we had Phil Mickelson’s miracle flop or Bubba’s 360 yard drives.

The reality is…we can’t and the majority of us will never be able to practice enough or build the combo of flexibility + hand eye coordination to hit the ball like a Tour Player. Nope, it’s just not in the cards.

There is something that we can all do which requires very little athletic ability and many have developed this skill to be almost as masterful as an average Tour Player. Short Putts, or as they’re called on Tour – “Money Putts”.

Eight feet and in is known as the “money range” and the best putters in the world drain these money putts at a rate of about 70%. The average Tour Player rolls these in at a rate of about 55%. (Putting Stats 8′ or less)

Hold on, there’s way more to this point.

I know what you’re thinking, you don’t hit it close enough to roll in those money putts from under 8′. Well, you can and you should if you’re serious about lowering your golf scores.

I don’t mean from 180 yards or even from 100 yards (although shame on you for not getting it together from 100 yrds in :)).

I’m talking about getting it up and down consistently, or even a little more consistently.

The average 5 handicapper gets it up and down from off the green at a rate of about 38%.

The average 18 handicapper only gets it up and down from off the green at a rate of about 12%.

There are only two possible reasons why you’re not getting up and down with more consistency:

One – you’re not getting up

Two – you’re not getting down

Good scrambling is a combination of subtle improvements in both, and getting just a little bit better, in each area, will lower your scores and allow you to have more fun on the course. There is nothing more disappointing than standing over a simple chip shot that just missed the green and not getting it up and down. This erodes confidence and places pressure on the rest of your game.

The amazing thing is that getting just a little, tiny bit better in just one of these areas will have an amazing effect on your end results.

Track and Improve

Two summers ago, I began using a golf app on my phone to track stats and evaluate my game. I had no idea how it would lower my scores, well, the app didn’t lower my scores but it did reach out of the phone and slap me across the face.

My scores were stuck in a rut for a period of months ranging between 76 and 82. I’m a member at a rather difficult course which I play all the time and I regularly mix in other courses. I really do take my game seriously, I hit my driver very well, my iron game is solid and wedges are not quite where I want them but, they aren’t bad.

I felt like I had my game together with the exception of putting, which has always been a sore spot. I always assumed that putting was one of those things:

“Putting – you either have it or you don’t…(not true)”

So after about 10 rounds worth of stats on my app, it was glaring that scrambling was the problem. My scrambling statistics showed I was only getting up and down at a rate of about 36%.

I knew I had to either get a lot better at chipping and or putting.

Consistent putting takes the pressure off other parts of your game, ask Luke Donald or Jim Furyk.

The beauty of scrambling is, you don’t need to knock every pitch and chip stiff….if you can drain the Money Putts.

So, I committed to hitting about 40 or 50 putts per day, just trying to find a comfortable stroke. I tried different things, 10 finger grip, weight front and back, arms in, arms out, eye over the ball, eyes back a bit, ball position and all sorts of other things like open stance and such.

You Can Find Something

Guess what? I found something…I’ve heard this “finding something” before and I was always questioning these mythical epiphanies that Tour Players suddenly pull out of the blue, but I had never  actually experienced such a thing myself.

It was all in alignment and simple eye placement, I’m not going to share my something, your something will no doubt be different, who knows what it may be?

The point is without committing to this few minutes per day of hitting putts, I’d still be dropping disappointing scores.

I’m happy to say that my Putts Per Round have gone down by 4 and I’m hitting those Money Putts with consistency. I’m not saying that every birdie putt inside 12′ is rolling in, that wasn’t the point, Scrambling Better was the point.

Once the pressure was off the chip shots due to the moderate improvement in 8′ or less, scores dropped. My handicap has subsequently dipped from the 8.0+/- range to 3.0.

I’m not spending hours at the chipping area, or at the range, I only hit balls and chip shots before a round. It’s all in the putting and chipping.

Attitude Change

On top of grooving a better putting stroke, I changed my attitude surrounding these simple up and down situations. I began to relish the idea that I may have an opportunity to improve on my Scrambling Percentage. What does that mean?

On shots where I miss the green, I will now approach the chip or pitch shot as an opportunity, not as a potential bogey. The opportunity is to improve on my up and down percentage.

Now that my concentration was focused on this positive thought, the negative thoughts rarely enter anymore.

This simple attitude shift altered my entire approach to missing the green, my thought process was different and my numbers shot up to 52% Scrambling.

You don’t need to become Ben Crenshaw, a subtle improvement is all that’s necessary. Success is the sum of small efforts over time, not the result of a profound event.

The most amazing aspect that I discovered was that my chipping results improved once those negative thoughts disappeared and the par putts are now even shorter than ever.

I’m not having these epic putting sessions, it’s the simple process of hitting putts from inside 8 feet and doing it with confidence.

If you do have a putting green, use it and use it regularly. If you don’t that’s fine too, work on your attitude around the greens. Change roadblocks to opportunities and I think you’ll be happy with the results.