Dear Golf Announcers: When you’re evaluating a putt on TV, please get it right!
It happened again. I’m watching the final day of the Northern Trust Open (the first stage of the PGA playoffs) when somewhere on the back 9, either Jordan or Dustin missed a putt.
The ball was headed straight for the hole, it looked for all the world like it would go in. Then, a few inches before it got there, it made a left turn and dove downhill, landing 5 or 6 inches below the hole.
The announcer’s comment:
“He didn’t hit it hard enough.”
He didn’t hit it hard enough? Puh-LEASE. For the ball to travel that much offline in so short a distance, the slope had to be pretty severe, and the green had to be really fast. They were running 13 on the stimp meter that day, so we know they were fast. And clearly, there was a slope.
But… Hit it harder? Do you know how hard you would have to hit it to cover those last few inches on a straight line? Let me tell — hard enough that if it the ball got to the edge, it would skate past the hole without dropping in, and keep on going for another four or five feet! (Fast greens, remember?)
Do you think the come-backer would have been fun? Didn’t think so. I sure wouldn’t want a 4-footer on a steep slope to make par in an important tournament!
And here’s the thing: The player who made the putt stroked it with perfect speed. How do we know that? Well, in the last inch of travel before the ball came to rest, it was moving directly away from the hole. So we know it came to rest on the fall line.
Meanwhile, if you’ve read Comprehensive Keys to the Green, you know that when a ball that comes to rest on the fall line, the speed was perfect for the line that was chosen. Clearly, the target line could have been a few inches higher. But over the 12 or 15 feet the putt traveled, that would be a difference of a mere fraction of a degree in the way the putter was aimed.
So it may or may not have been possible to make such a subtle correction, and sink the putt. You’d have to putt it several times, to find out. But for pity’s sake, announcers, stop telling people to hit it harder when a putt that seems to be heading towards the hole misses at the last second.
Please read my book, and learn how to tell when the speed was really off and when — as in this case — it was the line that was slightly off. You’ll be doing your fans (I am one, by the way) a huge service. Thank you. (Really! Thanks for all the study you have put into the game, and all the insights you share. Just make a small improvement in this one area!)
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