Every player that I talked to all week, even prior to the start of the championship, said the same thing to me, "The course looks perfect, I hope I make some putts."
The secret that so many good players know is that when scoring conditions are ideal, when the wind is calm, the conditions are soft and the greens are fast and smooth; you don't have to be the best ball striker, you don't have to be the most accurate off the tee or from the fairway, you're going to need to make putts.
This past week here at the 44th PGA Professional National Championship, we were fortunate to have great weather and conditions that we knew would reward great golf play with great scoring opportunities. And when you have this much golf talent in one event and conditions like we've had, you're going to see some outstanding scores.
And we did, with course records being set this week on both our East and West courses.
The three things I noticed among the players who had great success this week were:
1.) Get comfortable with the speed: When you know the putts are going to roll true, the biggest advantage is going to go with the player who is able to take aggressive but reasonable attempts at the hole. Avoiding three putts is still important, but feel like you have a chance to make every putt.
2.) Play a little more break: Spend time trying different putting lines on practice greens and get a sense of how much break you're going to have to play on each putt. The better players may take a number of putts at the same hole but trying a variety of routes to get there. And remember, it's not just making the putt, but making sure you don't leave yourself too tough a second putt if you don't make it.
3.) Finally, expect your opponent to make their share of putts. Good players tend to feed off other good play. People are going to make putts on great greens, use that as your inspiration to make your share. Too often, I see players get frustrated because their opponent nails a long one early in the round. All that means is, you can too!
It was a great week here at Hershey Country Club and the 44th PGA Professional National Championship. The PGA of America, the volunteers, the fans and the players were tremendous to be around, I hope they all come back. And I hope that you were able to watch and enjoy the stellar play - and hopefully, learn a little something that will help you in your game as well.