Putting Games

Summary
Ways to spend time on the putting green having fun with your friends.
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by Eric Armstrong

Introduction

Improving your short game is the quickest way and surest way to lower scores. For a good player, putting and shots around the green are 50% of the game. So once you've got a semi-decent game from tee to green, short game skills dominate the scoring equation.

These games gives you a way to spend time on the putting green having fun with friends, building skills you can use on the course--and because you're having fun, it's easier to spend more time on this much-needed aspect of your game.

Acknowledgements:
Many thanks to Ed Tischler of New Horizons Golf for introducing me to the concept of putting games in general, and to the mad "Seven/Eleven" and "Stymie" games, in particular. I got "Up and In Skins" from Keith Shepperson. "Bango Bongo" came from Jim Holmlund.

Contents

General Rules

Steals

Stymies

Greens

Honors, Rotation, and Playing Sequence

Putting Games

One game that isn't in the list is skins. With decent putters, it's too hard for anyone to win a hole! It's good for Up and In competitions, though.

Horse/Pig

Notes

Strategy Notes

Horseshoes

Match Play

This is a two-person game. The beauty of it is that one bad hole doesn't put you out of the competition.

Stroke Play

This is a good multi-player game, but it's hard to recover from a bad hole.

Modified Stableford

This game allows multiple players to play in a way that is similar to match-play competition.

Sinks

Strategy Notes:

Seven/Eleven

This is a two-part game, where the first to eleven wins. There is one set of rules for getting to seven, another for getting to eleven.

Strategy Notes:

Bango Bongo

Based on the standard game, Bingo Bango Bongo, where the first person on the green gets one point, the person closest to the pin gets one, and the first person in the hole gets one.

Note:
In the fairway version, you play be strict honors, so the person farthest from the hole plays first, except that all must be on the green before anyone putts. But when you're playing, every stroke counts--towards your handicap, if nothing else. Here, extra strokes cost nothing, so play rotates from player to player--so a player has one chance to sink when they're away, instead of taking multiple putts to "sneak up on the hole". (This is an exception to the rule of "strict honors".)

Stymie

The more players there are, the better this game is.

Strategy Notes:

Up and In Games

If the venue allows it, these are terrific skill-builders that lower scores:

Skins

Horse/Pig

Horseshoes

Match Play/Stroke Play

Preventing Back Strain

When I started doing a lot of putting, I noticed that my back hurt. That's a pretty common complaint. Ed Tischler gave me the solution for that. (It's something I should have known, too, given that I teach people how to protect their backs!)

The trick is to push your butt out. That simple moves makes you bend at the hips, instead of the waist, which bends your back.
The difference is pretty amazing. There is no strain at all when the back is flat.

I learned how to deadlift from a book on kineseology by Dr. Michael Yessis. That book taught me how to lift properly. (You keep your lower back flat, but the feeling is that your upper back is arched.) When you do that, you safely lift a piano. (It may not move, but you won't kill yourself trying.)

More importantly, that positioning tells you when to use your legs. When you can't bend over any further without bending your back, that's when you have to bend your legs. (Interestingly, the common advice to "bend your legs" isn't very helpful, because it's entirely possible to bend your legs /and/ bend your back, which is not good at all.)

So do your best imitation of an ape, and you have the perfect back position for lifting. And you'll find that it's helpful for the full swing, as well. It not only prevents strain, it helps you to rotate more freely.

But while I had that totally figured that out for a momentary effort, somehow it never occurred to me that it also applied to a sustained effort. (Seems obvious, in retrospect. Sigh)

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