Lou Stagner's Newsletter #31

Great Irons and Bad Putting

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Great Irons and Bad Putting

Have you ever hit your irons really well, but your putting was off?

Or hit your irons terribly, but your putting was dialed?

I am guessing you have experienced this. We all have.

There is something very interesting going on here that you need to be aware of.

When your approach game is solid, your putting is more likely to be off. When your approach game is off, your putting is more likely to be solid.

The first chart below shows the relationship between strokes gained approach and strokes gained putting. This is for all 10 index players.

The x-axis is strokes gained approach.

  • 5 = rounds where they gained 5+ strokes with approach play

  • 4 = rounds where they gained 4.00 to 4.99 strokes with approach play

  • -1 = rounds where they lost -0.01 to -1.00 strokes with approach play

  • -8 = rounds where they lost -7.01 or more strokes with approach play

Each column is the average strokes gained putting. For example, when 10 index players have rounds where they gained 5 or more shots on their approach play, for those rounds they lose an average of -2.79 strokes with their putting.

Note that for each of the charts below, strokes gained/lost is measured against the strokes gained baselines for the given handicap index.

Regardless of what skill level or type of player you look at, you see the same general shape. When players hit the ball well, they tend to putt poorly. When they hit the ball poorly, they tend to putt well.

The two charts below are for subsets of all 10 index players. The first one is the BEST putting 10 index players (of all 10 index players, these are the players that are in the top 10% in putting). The second one is the WORST putting 10 index players (of all 10 index players, these are the players that are in the bottom 10% in putting).

Finally, here is the chart for all scratch players.

My Thoughts

I find this relationship to be very interesting. When you strike your irons poorly there is a putting advantage.

I *think* these are two of the factors contributing to that advantage.

  1. When you are striking it poorly, you will miss more greens in regulation. When you have a chip/pitch shot from around the green, you will have an opportunity to watch how the ball reacts on the green (and near the hole if you hit a decent chip/pitch).

  2. If you miss the green, there is a chance someone else in your group hit the green and is on a similar line to yours. There will be *some* opportunities for you to watch someone putt on your line. There will also be opportunities simply to watch others putt first.

Having this additional information could offer insight on break and speed of the green. That extra info would help you to hole more putts (and three putt less).

When you hit a green in regulation, you will tend to be farther from the hole for your first putt. You would tend to be more likely to be the first person to putt on that green. You would tend to not have as much info as someone that missed the green.

These are just a few thoughts on what is driving this relationship. There are likely other factors in play as well.

Whatever the reason, just know that this relationship exists. This does NOT mean I want you to throw in the towel on your putting when you are hitting it well. As I always say, you should give 100% effort to every shot you hit!

Would love to hear any insights you might have on this. Feel free to email me your theory!


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    Have a great week!

Lou Stagner