President’s Letter – Help, I can’t putt!

President’s Letter – Help, I can’t putt!

I’m lost, and I need help. Since both of my kids went off to college, I have become a true avid golfer.

My weekend routine for golf has become fairly consistent. I hit balls nearly every Friday after work, and then play in my regular group on Saturday afternoons. When I am free for the weekend and get all of my “honey dos” done, I sometimes slip out on Sunday as well. I bet in all, not including reviewing courses for the magazine (where we often don’t play a round, just a few holes), I am averaging roughly 50 rounds of golf in a year.

My game hasn’t changed much. While I have always hit the ball pretty straight, it doesn’t go very far. I have always wanted to hit it farther, and feel I have the physical attributes to hit it farther. However, it has never worked out.

I still can shoot consistently good scores, as my short game gets me out of a lot of jams. I have always been good from around the greens, and my putting has unfailingly been the best part of my game.
Thankfully for me, since the first day I ever played the game of golf, putting has come very naturally. Most days I feel like I can make everything, and often times I have to, as my long game forces me to make a lot of putts for par.

I have never cared what putter I am using, either. I am currently using a 10-year old Odyssey model that still has the original grip. And I wont change it either, for superstitious reasons. You see, the last putter I had, a Carbite special, I used for 10 years. I made everything with that putter.

However, I was peer pressured into changing the grip, as it was coming apart and looked awful. Once I changed the grip, I never putted as well with it, and thus changed to the Odyssey. The Odyssey has been my Billy Baroo! Frankly, it works. Whenever I need to make a putt, most times I seem to drain them.

Until now.

I don’t know what has happened, but my putting stroke has failed me for the first time in my life. While it has only been about three rounds, is astonishingly bad, and, simply put, I am afraid. It started last month. At my home course, I had 11 3-putts. Yes, 11. There were only seven holes where I didn’t have a 3-putt.

I wasn’t very worried, as it was one round, and it was more than likely an anomaly. We have been working very hard on this GolfNow joint venture, and I chalked it up to stress. However, the following day, I played in a 4–man scramble tourney. Normally in events like that, I am the anchor for putting, and on this occasion I was again.

I did not make one single putt. In fact, if I were driving, you could say I had a lead foot. Every putt went forever. I’m afraid to think how many 3-putts I would have had if I were playing my own ball.

The following week, while in Las Vegas, I had 11 3-putts again. I righted the ship a bit the next day, as I had only seven 3-putts. This coming from a guy who is usually devastated over even one three-jack. I am not sure what has happened. More importantly, I don’t know what to do to fix it.

I was thinking of a putting lesson. However, that part of my game has been so good, if I were to spend money on lessons, historically the money would be best spent on full shots.

I am considering replacing my current putter. However, that putter was working great the month before, and this feels more like an excuse than a plan to fix things. Plus, it is difficult for me to spend any money on a club other than one that can give me 20 more yards off the tee.

Probably the one thing that may make the most sense would be a sports psychologist. Again, if I am going to invest in time with a shrink, I think the time would be better spent working through the other skeletons rattling around in my head.

Those of you who golf a lot, you can understand my pain. The thought of getting on the green in regulation only to putt like Happy Gilmore is completely demoralizing. I better fix it. I need to fix it. If not, it’s going to cost me a lot of money.

I have hope. Ernie Els fixed his demons in one week. I can too. I just need to figure out how he did it. I’ll ask him at the Nelson. If I can wait that long.