What do golfers do when they are not scoring well and their handicap starts to climb? All too often they buy new equipment, a new driver perhaps, or some wedges, or even a new set of irons.
I’m facing that dilemma right now.
I finished up last year with a handicap of 3.6. It’s normal at the start of a new season for the handicap to rise a bit, and then stabilize once you’ve played ten or fifteen games.
I’m now between 30 and 40 games into the new season and my handicap has climbed to just below 7 with no sign of slowing its ascent.
For those of you who have read my previous posts you will know that I made some pretty dramatic changes this year, trialing a set of single length irons. As my cap kept going up my first thought was that it must be the irons. I stuck with them for the first 30 rounds and then decided to switch back to my conventional length clubs.
That however did not cure the problem. I had a few good rounds and then things reverted to normal (the normal for this season that is).
That’s when I decided to look at the stats. When I enter my scores I use the stats option and track just some of the basics: fairways hit, greens in regulation and putts, ah yes putts.
I’ve never been a great putter, however I’ve been a steady putter who normally has very few 3 putts. I had been noticing that I was 3 putting more this year than in the past, and when I looked at the numbers I was taken aback. My fairways hit and greens in regulation had not changed significantly. However, my putts per hole changed from 1.8 to just under 2 putts per hole. This translates into less pars and birdies (I no longer hit it long enough to get many eagles), and more bogies and doubles.
When worked out in terms of putts per round, the increase in my putting stats corresponds very closely to the rise in my handicap. So the culprit is not my new irons, or the new driver I’m using this year, it’s putting.
So what do you think happened to the new putter I put in play this year? If you guessed ‘penalty box’ you are right. I played a number of rounds with my trusty putter from last year and a few more with older putters that had been languishing in the penalty box for several years.
The problem is I’m not able to putt well with any putter right now which means its not the putter that’s the problem , its the puttee.
Case in point, last Monday I played a match at the Selkirk Golf and Country Club and my partner and I managed to halve the front 9. Neither of us were playing particularly well on the back nine but I managed to birdie holes 14 (538 yard par 5) and 15 (565 yard par 5) to go one up on the back. I followed that up with a 2 putt from short range on 16, and 3 putts on 17 and 18 to lose the back nine.
So what did I do yesterday in the rain? I went out and practiced. With an array of putters I hit around 600 putts over a 4 and a half hour period, trying every grip and set-up known to man plus a few others. The result, inconclusive at best.
And what am I doing today as soon as the rain lets up?