InstructionAugust 11, 2010

How To Get Your Ball To Listen

Bully it, threaten it, demand mediocrity

The golf ball has no sense at all, which is why it has to be given stern lectures constantly, especially during the act of putting. I've learned this through years of competition that made my wallet look like an elephant slept on it and my money clip look like it had been melted into a tiny Confederate coin.

You must remind yourself at all times that the golf ball is nothing. It's an object. It's something to be swatted and sometimes lost and not even looked for.

The golf ball needs to understand that there are several others just like it in your bag, and none of them has a shelf life, nor deserves one. Small wonder it doesn't know Goat Hills from Pine Valley.

The golf ball thinks it has assumed a more important role after it reaches the green. This is because, as Ben Hogan taught us, putting has nothing to do with playing golf. That's why the golf ball tends to fight back on the greens after being whacked around on the fairway, in the trees, and bunkers, and rock piles, and what have you. Putting is where the golf ball considers it will get even. It is wrong, of course. It has no say in anything where human beings are concerned. That's why I have prepared a number of lectures that can be used on the golf ball when putting from various distances.

THE 30-FOOT PUTT

"You and me both know I'm trying to lag you up. Don't get any funny ideas. If you want to live to be putted another day, you will nestle yourself up to within four inches of the cup. Anything outside of four inches is unacceptable and might result in a three-putt, which means you will be smacked into the forest and will never eat another bite of bent grass.

"I am not trying to make this putt. Nobody can make a 30-foot putt except Tiger Woods when he's saving another par from the inside of a storage bin in the basement of an apartment building in lower Manhattan."

THE 15-FOOT PUTT

"Every sane person knows that a putt that goes in from this length or longer is pure, unadulterated luck, and generally happens to your disgusting opponent. But we're talking about me, aren't we? I've made only one of these in my life. It was a flat putt that broke slightly left and along the way was redirected on line by a spike mark, a sparrow's deposit and a dead cricket. I hope to make another someday. I say to you now that this could be it, but if it isn't, I would at least appreciate a lip-out."

THE SIX-FOOT PUTT

"This is it, moron: the moment of truth. I have never needed a putt worse than this one. I have the line. I have the speed. I'm going to give you a proper stroke with my new putter. The shaft is six feet long, and I have this new grip -- left hand under chin, right thumb and forefinger held tightly down near the blade. You will hear the stroke. It won't hurt. But if you have the slightest idea of missing the cup, you should know that I have a chain saw in my bag, and you'll wonder if you might be better off in an Albanian prison with three starving rodents.

"OK, here we go."

TIP FROM DR. BOB ROTELLA: You have to love one-putting more than you hate three-putting. As for trying to two-putt: When Michael Jordan got outside 15 feet, was he just trying to hit the backboard?


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