There’s a long-standing mantra in golf: “drive for show, putt for dough.” This old adage reminds us that driving and distance is fun and flashy, but solid putting will win you the money. The more I play, the more I find this is so true in disc golf as well.
Solid Putting Defines Your Game
Clearly your long game has to be decent enough for putting to matter, but think about how many errant shots could have been saved by a clean up-shot or a nice putt. Think about it further. How many small, insignificant putts have you missed that could have made up for poor performance on a previous hole?
Out on the links, a good golfer will play 18 holes at right around 72 strokes. Of those strokes, 30-36 are from the putting surface with a putter and another 6-12 strokes are from around the green with a chipping or pitching swing. Pitching and putting in golf are synonymous to approaching and putting inside the circle in disc golf, and one could surmise that at least 1/3 of our disc golf score is attributed to putting.
“I enjoy the oohs and aahs from the gallery when I hit my drives. But I’m getting pretty tired of the awes and uhhs when I miss the putt.” — John Daly, PGA Tour Golfer shown here, known for his long drives, loud pants, and inconsistent putting.
Solid Putting Saves Your Score
We’re working on data to determine just how important putting can be with a plastic disc but for now think about these scenarios:
- It’s a shorter hole, say 200′-400′, so if you can throw 250′ you’ll get to the basket easily in two throws. Your putt for par here is extremely important. If you can throw further, you might even get a chance to run a putt in for birdie.
- Think of another shorter hole, but make it a technical route requiring navigation through trees and shrubs. Your controlled tee shot may only go 180′, and your approach is just as long. This puts you in, or just outside, the putting circle for par.
- There are many holes that exceed 500′ in distance, so let’s assume 700′ here. If you can bomb a drive 350′ and a fairway approach 300′, you’re looking at the basket from 50′ away for a 3. Whether that’s birdie or par depends on the course and your competition but that putt is highly important.
- What if we’re on that 700′ hole with only 250′ of maximum power? Add in 200′ on the second and third shots and were still 50′ away from the basket for a 4.
Yes, those longer holes seem to require some bigger arm strength, but you’ll rarely see a course set up with all the holes over 500 ft. Your strategy here changes to: birdie the shorter holes and take whatever your game can get on the longer ones. One thing is for certain, you don’t want to give away any additional strokes than necessary.
Solid Putting Relieves Stress
Do you know when putting helps the most? Being a reliable putter will free your mind on the longer shots. When you are looking at a longer turnover shot or a sweeping hyzer, knowing you can make the putt from 30′ gives you a huge area to think about landing – a 60′ wide circle!
If you’re a math whiz or a numbers nerd, that’s 2827.43 ft². If your target putting distance is 20′, your landing area reduces to 1256.64 ft². That’s right, a measly 10′ increase in your confidence circle grants you more than double the room for error on an approach! It is, in-fact, a direct exponential relationship. Meaning the square footage increases significantly more as your putting circle grows.
Not into numbers? Take a look at the picture above. The tiny red area shows where your approach needs to land to have a ten foot putt. The yellow section is our 20′ mark and the blue sits at 30′. Look how much more space you have in the blue area!
Time to Practice
I am here to tell you that putting is the most important skill to have in disc golf.
If you ever see a really good putter, you’ll notice that they make it look so simple. You might think it looks easy, but it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to become a truly skilled putter. — Nikko Locastro, one of disc golf’s best putters, via Gateway Discs
Hopefully I have given you enough reason to spend more time practicing your putting. Sure, long drives are fun to watch and throw, but improve your putting and your average score will decrease while your scoring consistency will increase.
I don’t think I need data to back this up:
Every putt you make is guaranteed to take one shot off your score.