Putting Practice: Month 4

For 2022 I set a goal of achieving 70% putting from 25 feet. That seems attainable enough, and if I go higher than that, well, all the better..

I’m about to give up on my resolve here. I am not practicing anywhere near as much as I’d hoped to. Why?

I don’t think it’s laziness. I’m still playing a lot, so I’m getting out there, and almost all that playing is working on other parts of my game and practicing on the courses I’ll be playing sanctioned rounds in on the weekend, whether in league or a tournament.

I’m working heavily on my disc golf game, but not directly on my putting. Having said that, I’ll also say that my putting in competitive rounds has seemed noticeably better.

Let me run down the numbers for my April Challenge, though, before I go any further.

tl;dr: In April I made 32 out of 50 putts for a score of 64%, the worst since January.

But there’s more to the story.

I went to my usual putting basket at Trinity University for this month’s scored round. It didn’t start well.

I only made 2 of 5 of the first group of putters I threw when I got there. From 15 feet.

I get it, I’m coming in cold. No warmup of any kind. But … only 2 of the first 5 from 15 feet? That scared me. Had I lost it all?

I knew that wasn’t true. I’d made some big pressure putts that last few rounds.

One big putt was to save my bag tag, a 35-footer, dead center, on the last hole. The guy I was playing against was so shaken that he missed the 12-footer I’d assumed he’d make. C’est la guerre.

I also made a 55-footer on the last hole of a doubles match to take the victory.

Am I saying my putting is great now? Not at all. But I am saying that I wouldn’t have made either of those putts a year ago, so I know I’m getting better.

Sidenote: I’ve always thought of myself as a choker in sports. Even as an accomplished bowler back in the day, I still felt too many twinges of doubt in pressure situations.

Once in softball, I completely fell apart in a very tight situation that cost us the championship game. Nobody said it, and I’m probably taking on more blame than I deserve, but I labeled myself “choker”.

Anyway, I say all that to say this: I don’t feel a lot of nerves when I’m playing disc golf, even in pressure-filled matches. I’m not totally cool, calm, and collected, but I’m feeling a whole lot less like a choker and more like a winner, or, better yet, as a player who doesn’t beat himself.

So when I walk up to a 15-foot putt with five putters, I expect to make all five of the putts! (Or at least 4 of them.)

Sadly, it took a little while for me to get comfortable with the 15-footers again. In fact, early on, I was hitting the 21-foot putts more often than the 15-footers. Maybe I was taking them for granted.

After a warmup of about 150 putts, I felt better. Not great, but the weather seemed to be leaning toward stormy, so I wanted to get the scoring round done.

Yada yada yada … I made only 11 of my first 25 putts from 21 feet. 44%! That was my baseline score in January! What?

I stopped. Took a break. Breathed. Walked around. I didn’t practice putting, as that would have been cheating, but I thought long and hard about how I could possibly manage to recover from that terrible first half.

Finally, I was ready. I stepped up to the 21-foot line and … BANG! The first one flew right into the heart of the basket. I missed the next shot and ended up with only 3 of those 5, but that was an improvement. That would bring my score up.

I stopped again. Focused.

Round 7 = 5 of 5. YES!

Round 8 = 4 of 5!

Round 9 = 4 of 5!

Round 10 = 5 of 5!

Wow! What a comeback!

That was 18 of my last 20 putts making a total of 32 of 50 for a score 64%.

So, yeah, 64% … not so hot. But the way I got there was very encouraging. When the chips were down, I was able to focus and nail the putts.

That was all good, but now I have to throw something new into the mix. Ricky Wysocki recently made a putting video with 5 tips to get better.

I don’t remember what all the tips are. You can watch it yourself below to find out. But what stands out to me is his weight shift.

I’ve been experimenting with weight shift while putting. I know I need it to get more power. But I’d never tried leaning all the way back, getting almost all my weight on my back leg, the way Ricky talks about in that video.

I’ve tried that weight shift now, both casually and in sanctioned play, and, while I need to work on timing, I can feel the difference. It’s night and day. I feel much more powerful and confident.

So in addition to adding more accuracy with my putting practice, I’m also going to add power with a big weight shift.

As one of my favorite players, Paul Ulibarri, would say: “Let’s see how it plays out.”

Running tally:

  • January: 44% from 21 feet
  • February: 68% from 21 feet
  • March: 72% from 21 feet
  • April: 64% from 21 feet