Once again, the old adage that "golf is a game of putting" holds true - especially on the PGA Tour. So many storylines were playing out this past week at the Deutsche Bank Championship, it was hard to keep track of them all.
Who's going to win the tournament? Who's going to advance to the next FedEx Cup event? Who's going to impress Davis Love III enough to become a captain's pick?
The pressure to perform was - obviously - intense. And pressure almost always manifests itself with golfers via short putts.
And though over a four-day tournament, every golfer can look back at some short putts they could have made, it's the ones that consistently handle the pressure and hole out those must make short putts that will separate themselves from the rest of the field. Exhibit A of course, Rory McIlroy, who has become one of the most clutch "short putt" putters in golf - after struggling early in his career with those same distances. On Monday, on the 17th hole, Tiger, Rory and Louis all had short putts that they needed to make. Rory was the only one to make it - and he ended up winning by one.
You can't overstate the importance of making those short putts. Jackie Burke once famously challenged Phil Mickelson to start holing 100 3-foot putts at each practice session. Since Phil took him up on the advice, Mickelson has won four major championships. It's no coincidence.
Most players know that the secret to better scores is better putting. The great question is: how?
I have a favorite lesson I share with students on the putting green that has always seemed to bring good results.
I call it "hit, hold and look". You hit the putt, hold the finish, and then look to see it go in. Most golfer "look, hit and hope"!
Break these down in simple steps.
Once you are over your putt -
1.) Hit - make a good solid stroke on the line you've intended with the speed you feel is correct
2.) Hold - finish your putting stroke with your eyes still focused on where you made contact with the ball
3.) Look - Once your putting stroke is finished, you can look up to watch the ball roll in.
The concept is so easy but often difficult to adopt. Try these three simple steps the next time you get on the practice green and then take it onto the course. You'll make more short putts - and it will almost assuredly lower your scores.
John Crumbley is the Director of Golf at Mystery Valley Golf Club in Lithonia, Ga.