A Putt. It is one of those four letter words that can bring joy or heartache. One putt is usually the separator in big tournaments. One putt could get you into last cash as a pro, or last plastic if you play an amateur division. A single putt could force a playoff with the defending tournament champion. Your lone putt might mean the difference between your first under par round or just another day on the course.
The above video illustrates perfectly how important one putt can be.
Practice Routine or Not?
The one and only tournament I’ve played in is held every October as Tombigbee State Park, just outside of Tupelo, MS. The 20th Annual Tupelo Fall Classic is the longest running tournament in the are that I know of. I took the weeks before last years event to practice putting so that I would be prepared for the event. As a mostly casual player, I missed a lot of putts that I should have been able to make. My practice paid off as well, as I finished well enough to take home last plastic in the novice division. What is different from last year to this is the availability of a smartphone app to help track putting statistics.
Earlier this year, an app called Perfect Putt 360 came out for Iphones, and recently it became available for Android phones. I jumped at the chance to get it on my Samsung Galaxy S5. Developed by Chris Zagone and his brother, Matt, the app is not complicated at all. For me, it is an indispensable tool for a consistent practice routine. Whether you use an app or not, training for a more consistent putt is important if you want to improve your game. In the past, I’ve used pen and paper to record my makes from a specified distance, usually measured in steps from the basket. I’ve also done the same thing in a spreadsheet app on my phone.
Many of us have seen the social media videos from Paul McBeth, Simon Lizotte, Ricky Wysocki and other pro disc golfers give us a glimpse at their practice routine. Ricky likes to start from a long distance and work his way in. I like to mix it up and do different things each session. Now I have something to keep my work consistent.
Finding My Stroke
Looking at the screenshot above, the interface of PP360 is very simple. At each distance, you enter the number of putts you make out of ten at each distance. If you make all ten, all three extra check boxes are filled and the resulting points are displayed in the red column on the right. Miss a few putts, and all you have to do is check the boxes for first and last in if you made either of them. Make all 60 putts in both rounds, and you’ll get a perfect score of 360.
What I find so appealing about this smartphone app is the simplicity and the motivation it provides. In the past, I’ve always just taken ten or eleven steps from the basket and used that as a gauge for putting from 25-30 feet. With PP360, I actually took a tape measure to the local course and marked off each distance so I wouldn’t have to guess anymore. What I next need to do is mark a rope and take some paint out and mark circles so I can change up the direction I am putting from.
Another thing I like about the app is the distances and how the points increase the farther away from the basket you are. We all like to be parked on any given hole. Reality , i.e. Youtube, shows us that even the professionals have to make putts from beyond fifteen feet. After my practice sessions last year, I wasn’t any better from circle’s edge and beyond, but I wasn’t expecting to improve that much at long distance in the first place.
Par Doesn’t Matter, Strokes Do
There has been a running discussion that flares up from time to time on my club’s Facebook page about what par a given course should be. It usually turns to my home course, which by the signage is a par 60 course. Only two of the holes marked a par 4 are over 450 feet, measuring at 473 & 577. I’ve repeatedly heard in tournament discussions that score relative to par doesn’t really matter, that what does matter is the fewest number of strokes. It’s true, and PP360 takes putting practice to the same level.
The slide show above shows you all the session that I’ve used PP360. Starting off, I didn’t do well even at 10 feet. I have only used it for a little over a week, but the improvement from 15 feet and closer is already there. I wish I had a complete stack of 10 putters so I wouldn’t have to take two sets of 5 at each distance, but that’ll come with time. My disc purchasing has been temporarily suspended by the wife.
In looking at the scores in each round, it’s important to really take stock of your score at each distance, rather than the overall score. The app places a premium on the first and last putt in each set. You get extra points for each, and it does feel good to check the boxes for first and last in. Say you made only 8 putts at 20 feet, you only get one chance when you’re on the course. Having extra incentive to make the first one in practice helps translate that importance of the first one in to the course.
I was doing ok for a poor country disc golfer. Then I figured something out. I’ve been playing it as single rounds instead of the two round format. So, each picture above is just one round’s worth of scoring. That’s a mistake on my part, which I will correct in future use of the app.
Go Forth & Putt With Confidence
While I haven’t been playing many rounds lately, I can trust my putter a bit more after just a week using PP360. Whether you’re using an app like PP360, or just doing it your way, the putt is something that needs to be worked on. As I take time to learn new shots, like the forehand roller, I will keep working on putting.
If you want to hear a little more about the app, head over to Disc Golf Answer Man Ep. 137. They have a really good interview with Chris Zagone about Perfect Putt 360 and the future of development for it.