Putting Blackjack by Mark Sweeney
I participated myself an AimPoint course by Antti Vaalas last summer, and have bee interested since from this putting method. You can read from my course at Lappajärvi here. You can ask right away, did you get results? Has your putting average improved? In one word, yes it has! And I have not said once after that on green – ”Oh my god, how did that putt go that way?” That is the best lesson – even though putting is for the most part mental, it is also understandable analytics.
Mark Sweeneys article (November 2015) is a good perspective to every golfers putting and also making better scores.
”When working with players I often see a make or miss, pass or fail attitude with putting, but this is the wrong way to evaluate putting success. When you see too many putts miss with this attitude it can generate scar tissue that is difficult to get past and it can affect everything from your confidence, to stroke mechanics, to your long game. A healthier alternative is what I like to call Putting Blackjack” , says Sweeney.
”So how does this relate to putting? You goal in putting is simply to make a higher percentage from every distance than your competitors do and you should stick to your same process on every putt. The best players in the world are going to miss 1 in 10 putts from 4 feet, and they are going to three-putt more often than they one-putt from longer than 32 feet. So your job on lag putts is to two-putt and you should never be upset by not making them. In fact if you hit your approach to 35 feet for all 18 holes and two-putted them all, you would be positive putts-gained at the end of the round. The problem is not your putting (even though your ”made nothing”), the problem is your approach proximity”, Sweeney analyzed.
But the best is yet to come…
”From 15-20 feet the PGA Tour make percentage average is almost 20%. That means the best players in the world only make 1 in 5 putts in that range. For example, if you hit 18 greens all between 15 and 20 feet from the hole, you would only be expected to make 4 birdies and shoot 68. Most players would say it was the best ball striking of their life and the worst putting, but it’s really world-class putting even though they missed 14 putts from less than 20 feet”, Sweeney writes.
”So how do these players shoot scores so much lower than 68 consistently? The two main keys are making birdies on par-5’s where your first putt should be considerably closer–ideally inside 10 feet–and by great scrambling and making a lot of par saves, again inside 10 feet. If you birdie half of the par 5’s, then you only have to find three more birdies on the other 14 holes and scramble well, and you’ll shoot 67″.
Yes, that is one key to low scores – nothing new, but makes sense. If You look at any professional competition, You can wonder, how good these players are in scrambling – sand saves, long putts and when coming out from difficult positions and making then par after all..
Sweeney goes on. ”So when you’re analyzing your putting you have to think in terms of did you meet your expected make percentages or not, and separate your putting from your ball striking and scrambling. This is essentially the concept of putts-gained. Did you make four out of ten 10 footers? Well then you’re matching PGA Tour average. Did you two-putt from longer than 32 feet? If yes then you have more than done your job and should consider the putt a success. At the end of the day if you beat the percentages, especially inside 10 feet, then the only thing holding you back is your ball striking, not your putting. Don’t look at putts in isolation, but rather as an average performance over a round or a tournament, similar to how you would consider a game of Blackjack only after you leave the table, not hand by hand.”
So what do we learn from this Marks article? As an amateur golfer all parts of golf needs constant and steady training. But if you want take few shots away from your score card, practise more short game (sand shots, chipping and putting). Some may say – ”what new is that?” It is not, but it tells by all means the parts of this game that are important to get better results. And how about my own putting average this summer (2015) after taking this AimPoint school in mid summer? Putt average per round dropped from 33.6 to 32.6. It is not dramatical, but I can say, it looks much better in score card (and feels hell a lot much better) to score more 79´s than 80´s.
If you ever have a possibility to join AimPoint school somewhere, do that! It helps you to get a bit better golfer!