Putting Games

Ways to spend time on the putting green having fun with your friends.

Eric Armstrong


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.

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.


General Rules




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.



Strategy Notes


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.


Strategy Notes:


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.

In the fairway version, you play by strict honors, so the person farthest from the hole plays first--even if they're still the farthest away after they make a stroke. (The only exception is that everyone 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 exactly one chance to sink when they're away. Then it's the next player's turn. That way, a person can't take multiple putts to "sneak up on the hole" when everyone else is close. (This is an exception to the rule of "strict honors".)


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:




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.) I like to say that, when you do that, you safely try to lift a piano--It may not move, but you won't kill yourself trying. (However, do NOT try to do that just because you read about it here. Get someone who knows to check your technique. Reading about it is one thing. Doing it correctly is another.)

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.

Pushing your butt out helps to prevent back strain during putting and chipping practice, but it is not helpful when you are making a full swing. In fact, it has the opposite effect. The way to prevent back strain during the swing is to tuck your butt under. That position allows for a freer turn, and prevents stress on your lower back caused by the swing--something I learned from Pete Dooley, at GolfTec.

§ Home  ·  Books  ·  Health  ·  Music  ·  Dance  ·  Golf  ·  Yoga  ·  Essays  ·  Store §

Copyright © 2008, 2015 by Eric Armstrong. All rights reserved.
Subscribe for announcments.
Contact me to send feedback, make a donation, or find ways to help others.
And by all means, be sure to visit The TreeLight Store.