April 28 2012
By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM
N’awlins is known for food, jazz and blues music, and its residents’ care-free and laissez-faire approach to life. The Big Easy is certainly something to see and experience.
There is one this that I know for sure about The Crescent City though: all of its musicians, chefs and entertainment acts work hard at improving and perfecting their respective crafts. They are all continually searching for that perfect blend of spices, flavors and harmonies to make them unforgettable. In other words, behind the scenes, The Big Easy is all about work and performance.
Golf in the Big Easy this week is no different, and the players in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans are all striving for that perfect blend of facets to get them to the top of the leaderboard. In my opinion, from watching the play and looking at the stats, there is one “spice” that is common to all of the leaders’ games. That spice is good putting.
Tournament leader Jason Dufner averaged about 1.5 putts per green in regulation, which ranked sixth in the field; he was also ranked sixth in the field in strokes gained-putting. Further he was tied for first in putts per round, averaging 25 putts a day.
Scotsman Russell Knox led the field in trokes gained-putting gaining 3.216 strokes on average per round with his putter. He also took just over 1.5 putts for every green he hit in regulation, with tied him for seventh in the field in that category.
Greg Chalmers, who carded a course record 64 in the second round, was first in the putts per green in regulation statistic with 1.44 putts per green. He made up just more that 2.5 strokes per round in the strokes gained-putting category, which placed him third in the field. Oh yes, his ball-striking numbers weren’t so great -- he was T75 in driving accuracy and T51 in greens hit, but his proficiency with the putter have him in a tie for fifth through two rounds.
So here’s my take on what you can learn from the pros. If you want to contend in tournaments and shoot low scores, you have to putt well. There is simply no way to get around that fact! Prioritize your putter and dedicate ample practice time to it. Heck, rather just go out and putt, instead of hitting balls when you practice. If you don’t believe me, take it from the legendary Walter Travis who, before giving him a putting lesson, said to an up-and-coming Bobby Jones, “Show me a man who can putt well and I will show you a match for anyone.”
Mark Immelman, the brother of PGA TOUR professional Trevor Immelman, is a well-respected golf instructor and head coach of the Columbus State (Ga.) golf team. For more information about Mark and his instruction, please visit his web site, markimmelman.com