I have reached a point in playing golf that I enjoy it regardless of who I am with. Certainly, I prefer to play with family or friends. A round of golf with my sons or close friends is 4-5 hours of fellowship and fun, a time to be cherished for sure. I also really enjoy tournament golf and the teamwork and strategy that goes into playing a competitive round.
All that said, there are times when I just show up at a course to see if I can tag up with some other players. Usually, I end up meeting some great folks. That reminds me of a round I played in 2006 at the Conyers, Georgia Cherokee Run course. I decided to take the afternoon off and get in a round of golf. When I arrived, it was a slow day but the starter paired me up with a gentleman who looked to be in his early 50’s and his 19-year-old son. As the game progressed, I soon learned that he owned a car dealership in Macon and his son was a sophomore at Georgia Southern. We had an enjoyable round. However, there was one occurrence that still gives me a chuckle to this day.
The son, Nick, was not a bad player. He had a powerful swing and could hit the ball a long way. His weakness was putting. Nick simply had no touch. He tended to putt too hard on almost every putt. It wasn’t uncommon to see him get to the green in 2 or 3 shots and then take 3-4 putts to get in the hole. I am always reluctant to offer advice unless asked, but I could no longer bite my tongue, Nick’s putting was painful to watch.
So, as we left the 8th green having just watched Nick 4 putt yet again, I took a chance and offered a few words of encouragement and advice. “Nick”, I said, “putting is like kissing a woman”. I immediately had his attention. His father was all ears too, wondering where the heck I was going.
“First, you have to visualize the path of the ball, looking for breaks (signals) as to how this will go. Take a balanced position, standing close to the ball and hold the putter gently. Be relaxed, and go slow. Keeping your eye on the ball, make a smooth approach as your putter moves toward the ball. Avoid squeezing the putter and slapping at it. Bring the putter back and with a smooth stroke sweep the ball like a broom, and follow-through. Most important of all, practice, practice, practice. Find a technique that works for you.”
Before we had finished teeing off on the 9th tee box, Nick was on his cell phone talking to his girlfriend. He was explaining how this white guy (Nick was black) had given him a putting lesson and how putting was like kissing and he needed to practice, practice, practice.
I don’t know whether Nick ever improved his putting, but I got the distinct impression he was now looking forward to his date that night.