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The Wedge Guy: A more useful putting statistic for your records

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One of the keys to constant improvement in our golf games is to look for more and better ways to track our performance. And as you would expect, I’m a believer that our putting and short game should get more attention. As it regards to measuring our putting performance, for the most part the golf community either tracks total number of putts, or the average number of putts for greens in regulation. Well I would like to suggest what I think is a better idea for tracking your putting performance from round to round, one that is a more accurate indicator of what kind of day you had on the greens. Follow along with me here, keep some records of your own and see what happens.

My premise is that the true measure of how good a putting round you had just might be to total up the cumulative feet of putts you holed out. When you lag one up to a foot on the first hole, for example, that’s “1”. Make a six-footer for par (or bogey) on #2, you’re up to “7.” Miss your putts – from any distance – on the next few holes, add in the distances of those remaining tap-ins. [I’ll add in here that you should round to the nearest foot, OK?]

In prior years from time to time, I have done this for a few rounds and have found it pretty interesting. If you are making your 3-6 footers, and knock-in one or two longer, you can see a total in the range of 50-70’ total. That’s a pretty darn good putting round.

A day where nothing goes in for you might bring that total down to 25-40’. Bear in mind that if you don’t give yourself very many good “looks” from inside ten feet or so, your total is likely to be smaller . . . maybe an indicator to work on your greensides chipping and pitching.

Let me share some of my own results from a crazy week a while back just to show you an example. On that Friday, I hit the ball great – 15 greens in reg, but didn’t make much – lots of 12-25 footers that just didn’t go in, even though I many good putts. I totaled up my putt distance and got less than 40 feet. But on Sunday, it was a different day altogether. Wind was howling about 20-25 and I only hit 8 greens in reg. But I made almost 90 feet of putts!!! And I shot only two strokes higher than Friday.

So, I’d like to challenge those of you who are getting back on the course and want to get the most out of this season to try this for a few rounds and let us know what you think of this new putting stat. Remember, you count only the last putt on each hole – the one that went in or was a gimmee – and run the total. It’s fun, it’s informative and it just might be a clue to those good rounds.

As always, the more you all chime in, the more we all learn.

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Terry Koehler is a fourth generation Texan, a native of a small South Texas town and a graduate of Texas A&M University. He has had a most interesting 40-year career in the golf industry. He has created five start-up companies, ranging from advertising agencies to golf equipment companies. You might remember Reid Lockhart, EIDOLON, SCOR, or his leadership of the reintroduction of Ben Hogan to the golf equipment industry in 2014. For almost 25 years, his wedge designs have stimulated other companies to slightly raise the CG and improve wedge performance. He has just announced the formation of Edison Golf Company and the new Edison Forged wedges, which have been robotically proven to significantly raise the bar for wedge performance. Terry serves as Chairman and Director of Innovation for Edison Golf, which can be seen at www.EdisonWedges.com. Terry has been a prolific equipment designer of over 100 putters and several irons, but many know Koehler as simply “The Wedge Guy”, as he authored over 700 articles on his blog by that name from 2003-2010.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. david goodman

    Jul 4, 2020 at 1:25 pm

    I think the better way is to chart what you did on each putt, noting the distance. you have a 40 foot putt and write down whether it was one, two or three putt, etc. Then you get an idea of how your putting is from different distances.

  2. Ron

    Jun 19, 2020 at 12:24 pm

    Thanks for the article.

    The issues I have with looking at the total feet of putts as a measure of putting success are that it can be dominated by just one putt. If that one 50-60 footer that all you were trying to do was not three-putt hits the pin hard but still drops, the total number of putts for the day look pretty respectable even if you had 40 putts with five 3-putts. Or on a day you hit fifteen greens in regulation – you are likely to have a lot of 25-40 foot putts. If your only birdies were 8-10 foot putts, but you had no three-putts, that would be a good putting round without a high total number of feet of made putts. That is, a good ball-striking round often leads to a higher number of total putts but a lower number of feet of putts made, and that could still be a good putting round. If you are missing a lot of greens, but hitting fringes or surrounds, then chipping well, your putt total can be quite low. In that case, the total feet of putts will tell you whether you were putting well or chipping well.

    We all hope for that one round where we hit a lot of greens, have a low putt total, and roll in a couple of fluke long putts. Hope springs eternal.

  3. gary

    Jun 17, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    You could also take feet of putts made divided by greens, the closer the number is to 1.00 the better you are putting. 80’/15 greens = 5.33 or 80’/7greens= 11.4. Obviously 80′ of putts with 15 g is better then the same 80′ with 7 greens.

    • gary

      Jun 17, 2020 at 3:53 pm

      actually my idea doesnt make 100% sense, messed it up a bit. But the thinking is correct. my bad

  4. bossofthemoss

    Jun 17, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    I don’t really like this because it just shows what you made that day, doesn’t really show how well you putted, if that makes sense. Say if you have a 50-footer with a big break and over a ridge, and you lag it to a foot. In reality, the first one was an amazing putt, but it shows up in the tally as a 1 footer and looks like you didn’t putt well. Similarly, you could make a 40-50 footer and then also have like 5 3 putts in one round. The 3-putts are not going to be represented in the count and overall your footage of putts made will make it look like you had a good day on the greens.

  5. Doug

    Jun 17, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    If you’re stepping off the distance of your putts you can just enter that into an online SG putting calculator (only need first putt distance and number of putts) to get the actual “most useful” putting skill statistic.

    It won’t really tell you where you’re doing poorly, though (am I worse a short putts or long relative to golfers my handicap?).

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The Wedge Guy: Is lighter always longer?

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One of the continuing trends in golf clubs – particularly drivers – is the pursuit of increasingly lighter shafts; this obsessive goal has given us the premise that the lighter the club, the faster you can swing it. And that idea is driven by the relentless pursuit of distance at all levels, and for all golfers.

But as long as he is, for example, Dustin Johnson ran away with the Masters because he was exactly that – a “master” at ball control and precision. DJ outperformed almost everyone in the field in terms of fairways and greens. That gave him more birdie putts, better looks because of his precise approach shots, and many fewer tough par saves.

But my topic today is to pose the question: “Is lighter really the key to being longer for all of us “recreational” golfers?”
Let me begin by saying that “recreational” doesn’t mean any lack of seriousness or dedication to the game. Hitting better shots and shooting lower scores is the goal for all of us who care about our golf games, right? What I mean is that we do not make our living playing the game. We do not practice incessantly. We do not spend hours at the gym every day specifically preparing our bodies to optimize our golf skills.

Today I’m going to put on my “contrarian” cap and challenge this assumption of “lighter is longer” on a couple of bases.
First, if you watch every accomplished player, you will see that the body core rotation is fast enough to “beat” the hands and clubhead to the ball. All instructors agree that the big muscles of the legs and body core are the key to power and repeatability in the golf swing. The faster you can rotate your body through impact, the more power you generate, which flows down the arms, through the hands and shaft and to the clubhead. This is a basic law of “golf swing physics”.

The simple fact is, the speed at which you can fire these big muscles is not going to be measurably impacted by removing another half ounce or less of weight from your driver. But what that removal of weight can do is to possibly allow for your hands to be faster, which would aggravate the problem I see in most mid- to high-handicap players. That problem is that their body core is not leading the swing, but rather it is following the arms and hands through impact.

Secondly, speed without precision is essentially worthless to you, and likely even counter-productive to your goal of playing better golf. Even with the big 460cc drivers, a miss of the sweet spot by just a half inch can cost you 8-12% of your optimum distance. You could never remove enough weight from the driver to increase your club speed by that amount. So, the key to consistently longer drives is to figure out how to make consistently more precise impact with the ball.

No golf adage is always true, but my experience and observation of thousands of golfers indicates to me that the fastest route to better driver distance is to get more precise with your impact and swing path, and not necessarily increasing your clubhead speed. And that may well be served by moving to a slightly heavier driver, not a lighter one.

I’ll end this by offering that this is not an experiment to conduct in a hitting bay with a launch monitor, but rather by playing a few rounds with a driver that is heavier than your current “gamer”.

Continuing with my “contrarian” outlook on many aspects of golf equipment, the typical driver “fitting” is built around an intense session on a launch monitor, where you might hit 30-40 or more drives in an hour or so. But the reality of golf is that your typical round of golf involves only 12-13 drives hit over a four-hour period, each one affected by a number of outside influences. But that’s an article for another time.

For this week, think about pulling an older, heavier driver from your closet or garage and giving it a go for a round or two and see what happens.

I would like to end today’s post by wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. It’s been a helluva year for all of us, so let’s take some time this week to count our individual and collective blessings.

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