It’s an obvious answer to this question. You can do some things in golf very mediocre and still compete, but putting is not one of them. Putting poorly is not going to result in tournament wins or even a possibility of competing.
I’ve won small events with poor putting, recently I won the Oakland City and Concord City tournaments with very suspect putting. But would never come close to winning some of the bigger events that I have aspired to do well in.
So how did I even beat 10 other players this last weekend in the smoke and heat at the Concord City? I did something the pros do all the time, I finally changed putters and gave up on my old faithful STX Side saddle putter and when to the very first putter I used over 20 years ago. Its a Jack Koski “so easy” putter made in his garage. It has a much more solid face so I don’t have to hit my putts so hard, especially on slow greens like at Diablo Creek in Concord.
Sports Psychologists always tell me that you need to show your brain something new, either a new putter or new grip or method of putting. Since I spent $5,000 on a Hypnotist (which made me putt worse) I have finally decided to go with an old look that was good to me in the early years.
On day 1 at Concord I had 27 putts as opposed to 42 and 43 putts at the Truckee event that I bombed out in. If you want to putt well in competition you need to be comfortable over all length putts and not just some certain lengths.
All the top professional players change putters and usually go back to something from the past that they’ve had a positive experience with. Also I think getting a putting lesson is WAY more important than a swing lesson. The foundation of the game is on the greens, you need to have the right feel and technique otherwise the rest is rather mute.
My good pal MM just went to Dave Stockton Jr for a lesson last week in So Cal. he said that Jr had him firm up his left wrist and forearm, while creating more pressure on his overlap left pinkie on top of his right hand. He then said he looks at the cup and then back, but right before he strokes thee putt, he looks about six inches in front of the ball and then quickly strokes the putt.
How did he putt at Concord, well lets just say he made almost every putt he looked at and even called then going in before he hit them. That is not being cocky, that’s the confidence you need to have with your putting to putt like the pros.
And as always I roll quickly here and do not proof read my work, so sorry in advance for typo and gramatical errors.
STAY TUNED FOR MORE ON THIS SUBJECT
I’ll start by ranking the courses that I’ve now played in the Truckee area.
I had a draft post about my two rounds at the Antioch City and decided that nobody wants a hole by hole of my horrible bogey, double bogey start, and the yipped 3 and 4 foot putts ending in a 69-69=138 total and a 4th place finish. The course has 4 easily reachable par 5’s and two drivable par 4’s so par is really 66.
The problem is that when you’re standing over a 3 foot putt and know that your going to miss, guess what…your going to miss. I used to have the yips with my chipping and became famous for my sneak attack chipping. I’d assess the chip, walk around looking at the sky and then walk straight into the chip and hit it before the Demonds could interact with my brain.
I’m now doing that with my putting. I’ll look at the putt, assess it and then without a practice stroke hit it quickly. And my goodness I putt side saddle to prevent these F_____Ing yips.
Of course I am violating everything I was ever taught by my swat team of therapists that all said you CANNOT admit or ever talk about the YIPS. You need to think your the best putter in the world. I tried that and it does not work.
So what is the answer? I’ve tried every possible variation of putting grips, and none seem to work. I putt half the time with my eyes closed, and half with em open and sometimes half open. Perhaps the lifelong amount of stress I’ve endured has taken its toll and frayed my nerves into this state.
NEXT SUBJECT- HSDT
This is another reason my putting has its nervousness, this stock has buried me for going on three years now. But what happens next with the removal of my pal Phillip DeChamps. Guys its a huge positive!! The people replacing him and rock stars in the finance and investment industry and will allow HSDT to reach its full potential. Phil was a marketing guy, had no experience running a public company and made mistake after mistake.
THE PoNS device works and will end up helping millions of people with MS. So is the stock cheap at $0.40 HELL YES. But the clearance from the FDA will not come for a while, sometime between 3-9 months from now. Then the sky is the limit for this company under its new leadership.
UP NEXT- Golf in Truckee, its a golfing paradise
In golf, it doesn’t matter what political affiliation, religious beliefs or what your race creed or color is. This is a sport of commonality, a sport of understanding how challenging and difficult it can be at times. It will test your patience and calm.
We’ve seen displays of poor behavior even from the best players in the world. My favorite being when the normally fairly cool headed Rory McIlroy launched his 4 iron into the middle of a lake after a very poor shot. It wasn’t that one shot that got him, it was an accumulation of a tough day with a lot of bad breaks.
Most of have snapped, some more than others. But in the end the game is a game of integrity and union amongst those of us that love and respect it. I have forged my greatest friendships through the game of golf. I have met individuals that without golf, would have never met. It’s truly the one sport for life that allows us to meet other fellow golfers of any skill level and share one common love.
Recently on a trip to visit my father in Houston Texas, while dining at the very best high end Steak House in the Memorial area, I started a conversation with our excellent waiter. He recognized the Olympic Club logo on my golf shirt, and instantly a bond was forged of two guys that love golf, and respect the game.
I mentioned this golf blog to him and he said he’d follow it. In a few short weeks, I would say that I have a new friend, and someone that I will look forward to playing a friendly round of golf with on my next visit to Houston. I have met people like this all over the world, where I am constantly reminded how like-minded golfers are in their passion for the game.
I share my golfing stories with you not to monetize this blog, the opposite is true, I have turned down every opportunity to advertise on this blog. This blog is just about an amateur golfer that has been blessed to play in many amazing events around the world at some of the worlds best venues. I enjoy sharing with you how I prepare for competing at the level I aspire to compete at. I have some many crazy golf related stories that I enjoy sharing with you, both good and bad.
This is the comment left by my new friend in Houston I wanted to share with you:
Really great story about your beginnings in golf and all the hard work you had to do to make it happen. I was a part of the first tee program here in Houston. We could play free at three of the city’s municipal courses, I was also obsessed, I would walk 36 a day in the Texas heat. I did that for about 3 summers, my goal was to break 90. I called my grandparents when I first shot 89. They were very supportive of my game. Your blog brought back old memories for me, thanks for sharing your story.
Since COVID 19 we are all living in a different world, with different rules. Instead of going to Europe and playing in the Senior Open and Amateur, I am playing in the Livermore City. This is not a major event by any stretch, and perhaps it will be impossible to play because of the smoke we are experiencing in California. Right now I cannot even go outside to tend to my Vegetable garden.
During these unprecedented times, I hope you are all safe, and able to enjoy some golf wherever you may be.
I’ll be back with photos of the smokey Livermore City at the public course called Lone Tree.
How and when did you start your love affair with the game of golf?
Mine was in Green Bay Wisconsin when my aunt Lorrie invited me to play my first round of golf with her at the age of 9. My awesome auntie was the only relative in the family that played golf, and for me it was love at first sight.
The courses in Green Bay are beautiful in the summer time, lush green and buzzing with summer bugs. I returned home to Orinda CA determined to continue my love affair with the game of golf. My only option was to ride a very heavy Schwin Bicycle up and down steep hills to Orinda Country Club to get in line for a caddie job.
My first week I got a bag a total of ZERO times, and was frustrated. But I was determined to get on the course and make some money while learning more about the game. Week two the caddie master who looked like he woke up wearing his disco clothes from the night before, finally pointed to me and said get up here.
At the age of 9 I was nearly able to carry one bag, let alone a big single bag with 50 balls in it. I have never worked so hard in my life to carry this heavy bag up and down hills , chasing this total hacker all over the course while looking for his ball on almost every hole.
My reward was a cheap and insulting $6, which at the time was considered the base pay, with no tip. Still that didn’t keep me from coming back the next day. I finally got a player that could play, AND he had a light bag. This gentleman also gave me a whopping $8 which made my day, and the long bike ride home a lot easier.
I continued caddying all summer and saved every $5 bill I received which went into a cigar box. I didn’t own my own set of clubs, and my parents never played, so there wasn’t some old set in the garage. After I had accumulated $120 or 24 five dollar bills, I proudly purchased my very first set of clubs. I bought the Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear set of irons and woods. I was crazy excited to try my new set of clubs.
Problem #2 arose as my mother was not willing to drive me the 20 minutes to the nearest golf course. My brother had some friends, twin brothers that started playing golf at the same time as me, and I finally got them to let me tag along. We frequented Tilden Park Golf Course, Boundary Oaks and Franklin Canyon. But the game was very expensive with no subsidies or special rates for kids.
What these course did offer was late day discounted fees, usually after 3pm or 4pm. Usually we only had time for nine holes, but we did everything we could to play as much golf as we could. I was hooked, and the caddy job barely was enough to cover my golfing expenses, so I got other jobs. I sold knife sets door to door. I worked for neighbors weeding and painting. I tried a paper route. And then at age 16 I got my big break, I got a job at Pietar’s restaurant in Lafayette washing dishes Fri and Sat evenings from 6pm – 2am making $2 a hour.
My weekly paycheck was $28 after $4 was taken out for all the taxes. After 6 months washing dishes I got advanced to bus boy where I made the big bucks, $2 an hour plus tips that averaged $10 a night. There was nothing I wouldn’t do to fund my golfing addiction.
Now golf has priced itself well beyond what most families can afford. The image of golf being for the rich became a reality as the price of golf escalated over the past 50 years. The game is in jeopardy of dying without the injection of new players, the youth joining the ranks of addicted golfers.
Fortunately there are some amazing and very successful organizations that are making a difference. First Tee of America and Youth on Course have been super successful in getting kids into golf, keeping kids in golf while also providing scholarships and I think most importantly allowing these kids to forge great friendships while allowing access to low priced golf.
Golf tee times have always run at fairly low capacity. Prime time tee times are always in demand, but once we hit 2-4pm the course empty out. This is a perfect time to allow the youth onto our courses at fees as low as a few dollars. This will keep the game we love alive, and will continue to support the thousands of courses globally that are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.
Without the youth, the future of golf is in question.
If you love the game of golf, please support these organizations, every dollar counts and we all need to do our part.
Check em out, and stay tuned
Perhaps Sigundo Oliva Pinto would be the one holding the coveted US Amateur title with all the spoils, had his inexperienced caddie not whipped his fingers through the sand on the 18th hole in a tight match that was tied. Sigundo actually had the easier chance at getting his shot up and in for perhaps the winning birdie on this finishing hole at Bandon Dunes.
Sigundo displayed some incredible self restraint after the incident, and showed the world again why MOST golfers are athletes with class, integrity and self control. Those that do not display these qualities typically don’t last in this tough game.
I can relate to what must have been going on with Sigundo, as most of us as kids dream of being in a position to win such a coveted event like the USGA Amateur. The Champion and runner-up get invitations to the US Open, Masters and the winner plays in the Open Championship in the UK. It can also be a springboard into a lucrative professional career and its just a fact that an amateur champion will get a shot at some good endorsement money entering his professional career.
All of the intangibles associated with winning this tournament only make what happened even more tragic. I guess my question is: Why did Bandon Dunes allow an inexperienced caddie to work the US Amateur. Was this guy ever properly trained?
I thought I always had the biggest BONE HEADED move in a tournament. In the 90’s I was playing Nick Watney in the NCGA Amateur at Spyglass Hill. I had a one hole led going to the short downhill par three 15th hole. I hit first and stuck my shot to 2.5 feet, almost a gimme, but not quite. Nick hit his shot to about 25 feet. Upon reaching the green, I marked my ball and whipped a low line drive to my caddie, a friend that had woken up at 5 am in the Bay Area to drive down to caddie for me. He was not totally with it, and the ball glanced off his hand and into the lake behind him. I knew the rule, and couldn’t believe that I could be so stupid to whip a golf ball to someone with a lake behind him.
My good friend and caddie went into the lake in search of my ball. He was almost neck deep in water and was pulling up balls with his bare feet. Back then you had five minutes to find it (three minutes now). He found about 20 balls, but never mine.
Instead of leaving that 15th hole 2up I left even, having to concede the hole to Nick for losing my ball in the lake. I lost to Nick on the 18th hole when he made birdie. We would not have played 18 if I had not thrown my ball. But it gets worse-
Obviously everyone heard about this incident, and even the local paper was kind enough to write a very unflattering article about my blunder. Also listing other recent mishaps I had experienced. But years later my iconic amateur championship friend Casey Boyns caddie for me in a late round match in the NCGA Championship after he had been knocked out. Again on the 15th hole I hit a good shot close to the hole, and again whipped a fast ball to the left of Casey. Thank god Casey has superior hand eye coordination and was able to snag my errand toss to him.
We both looked at each other, and clearly I felt like quite the fool for repeating something that had happened before and cost me so much. I however am pretty confident that Sigundo’s caddie will not be testing any more bunkers, at least I hope not.
Golf can be a cruel and punishing game. It will constantly test your patience and mental prowess. However I cannot imagine a better game that allows us to enjoy such beautiful places with such great people of integrity and honor while enjoying this amazing game for most of our lifetimes.
I’ve had my Cortisone and Steroid shots in my ankle so I play to be back in tournament action this weekend at the Antioch City Championship, a fun event, but certainly not a major.
Thanks for your support in reading this crazy blog, and always remember “Do as I say, not as I do”