Friday, November 09, 2007

Snake Bit...

A Short Story...

Last time I mentioned that I played a course in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I also mentioned my friend, Bill, who has recently taken up golfing. The back-story here is somewhat entertaining so here’s how it went down…

Bill and his wife, Cindy, invited my wife, Kerri, and myself to go to Lake Charles for the weekend. When Kerri told me about it, I said it sounded great. I said (kidding of course), “Great, I’ll go golfing while you guys hit the casino”. My wife knows I don’t care much for the casino, but her response was a big, “Ahhh… I don’t think so”.

Some time later, Kerri is talking to Cindy and tells her (also kidding) that I wanted to go golfing while they did the casino thing. Cindy’s response was, “Oh great, now Mark will have someone to golf with”.

It turns out that a third couple was in on the trip and the guy, Mark, is a golfer. This guy has been friends with Bill for 20 + years and has been trying to get him to take up golf for nearly all of that time.

Upon learning that the two guys he invited to go to the casino were going golfing, Bill opted to buy a set of clubs so that he wouldn’t be stuck with the girls in the casino while Mark and I were out golfing.

Yes, I got to go golfing on that trip!!

The point of that story is that it was Mark who introduced me to “snakes” in the golf betting world.

Snakes on the Loose...

When adding “snakes” to your skins game you must pay close attention to three-putts. Whenever anyone in the game three-putts, he/she is considered to have been bitten by the snake. The last person to three-putt has to pay each opponent one skin for each of the total number of three-putts that occurred by all players during the game. So, you can see that it’s most important not to be the last person to three-putt.

The Problem – I’m a Three-Putting Fool…

I have been hitting GIRs better than ever this month and I even had two loops where I managed 78% GIRs. Like I said in my last post, more GIRs gives more birdie opportunities and you should (and I did) see an increase in birdies with more GIRs. The bad news is that more GIRs also provides more three-putt opportunities and worse still is that my three-putt stats have gone through the roof. I had a couple rounds where I three-putted five times over eighteen holes… ouch!! The "snake factor" adds considerable pressure and shines a spotlight on whoever three-putts. Now in our skins game, you win a skin if you win a hole. If you get a GIR you get a skin but only if you make par. Now think about the momentum and emotional swing that happens when you go from being closest to the pin to three-putting. You not only lose the greenie skin (and possibly the hole), but you now have the snake and the snake grows each time it bites. Confidence is the first thing to run from the snake. Time to work the mental game.

The Solution – So Far So Good…

Now I don’t like to serve wine without cheese (Was I whining back there? Cheese is good though so hang in there – remember I’m from Wisconsin), so I’m going to share how I’m currently overcoming my three-putting woes.

I have really tightened up my lag putting by making some practice strokes from a point (or points) between my ball and the cup. Here’s what I do:

I walk along the line from the ball to the cup to survey the shot. I look at the line from the cup back to my ball. These two steps are just to gather information about the line, the green condition, the slopes and undulations. Then as I walk back to the ball from the cup, I stop and take some practice strokes from some intermediate points on the line. These points could be an apex of the break or just a halfway point. On really long putts, I may do this at as many as three points. I don’t take a lot of time, I’m just feeling out how much pace I need to hit with at each point as I work back to the ball.

This putting routine obviously gives me a good feel for the line and the speed of the putt, but more importantly, it gives me confidence. After several weeks of three-putting as many as five times in 18 holes (average three-putts for the month is twice 18 holes), what I really need is some confidence. I need to stand over the ball and be confident that I can get down in two on long putts.

The results have been outstanding. I have not three-putted once since I started using this technique. My current streak is 38 holes without a three-putt.

More trouble…

Now to be fair, my ball striking has been a little loose lately (fewer GIRs means fewer opportunities to three-putt). My GIRs have fallen to 33% because I’ve been hitting these weak push fades. My distance has shortened up by nearly a club. Fortunately I figured that out too. I had been getting lazy in my swing and not keeping my left arm straight. With a slight bend in the left arm I have been hitting the ball very weakly and often a little thin. It’s more difficult to get a proper release as well so I had to work very hard to produce a draw. Now that I have that figured out I’m hoping to bring the GIRs back up while keeping the three-putts to a minimum.

I'm hoping to play in an individual stroke play tournament on the 30th (If Kerri is not working). I'll have at least one more opportunity to golf before this month's membership runs out. After that I'll post the stats.

Learning to love putting,


At 11:26 PM, Anonymous Stephen said...

Hey greg, I couldn't find an email address for you so I'm posting on your blog. I own and am working on populating and am wanting to ask for a link on your right-hand column; additionally if you would like to email me reviews &/or photos that you've written/taken, I'll be happy to post them on the corresponding courses.

At 7:24 AM, Blogger Dwight said...

Hi, Greg. Neat blog. I noticed that your home course has all par 3s. Is your current handicap calculated based on mostly par3 rounds? How have you done on longer courses, say over 6000 yds?

At 8:05 AM, Blogger Greg said...

Thanks for reading Dwight. The par-3 course I play on is not rated. My handicap is rated on the 129 regulation rounds I have played over the three years since I started. Some of those are on a course that is shorter than 6000 (5400ish). I currently play most courses from the tips (6700 and up).


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