Golf After Fifty

Golf After Fifty by John Marino

Perhaps the greatest thing about golf is that you can see a man and his grandson out playing together and without even calculating in golf handicaps, the granddad shoots the better score. I have seen that on many occasions at Old Chatham Golf Club, and it is a perfect example of what really makes a difference on the golf course.

Unlike so many other sports, it is not size, strength or age that makes a great golfer. It is a person’s ability to stay focused and patient. More than half the strokes taken during a round of golf happen on or near the green, and if people really want to lower their scores, this is where they need to improve.

The biggest secret to lowering golf scores is to eliminate three putts. Gaining ten additional yards off the tee will not lower a golfer’s score, but draining four more putts in a round will. While the grip technique, the length of the club and type of stroke may vary, there are certain elements that all good putters incorporate having a routine, having good distance control and reading the line properly. The only way to improve all of these is to practice, and good putters all take the time to do so.

Use the practice green to groove into your own putting routine. Everyone’s routine will vary and is unique to them. A routine sets the mood and puts a player at ease, which will allow that player to putt with rhythm. A good rhythm will relieve tension and allow a player to be more visual. I like all of my players to react to the picture they see. One of my goals as a teacher is to try to make everyone spend less time over a shot. Spending less time over the ball increases your ability to react to what your mind’s eye sees and then putt better because you will be reacting rather than doing.

An example of a routine would be to read the putt from behind the ball, address the ball and – while looking at the hole – take two practice strokes, feeling the pace and strength of the strokes. After your last practice stroke, look at the hole and then follow your line from the hole to your ball. When you have a focus on your ball, make your stroke, leaving minimal time before you strike the ball. Remember your rhythm and to breathe throughout the process. Practice this routine, so when you are playing on the course, especially in pressure situations, the routine will come naturally and help calm you. Let the process give you the desired results.