Mike Mitchell PGA Head Golf Professional
Interesting topic: our greens here at The ACE Club. As you know our greens are big. For that matter our fairways, bunkers, tees are all big. I think that’s what is most impressive when first playing here. Even our total acreage is big, we (the course) sits on about 270 acres. Typical club course acreage is roughly 160 acres. It is, as you all know, a terrific place to play golf.
Now let’s get to the greens.
Some interesting facts:
Our largest green: 12th green is 12,500 square feet.
Our smallest green: 5th green is 5,300 square feet
Average square footage of all of our greens: about 10,000 square feet
Average square footage of greens at most traditional par 72 courses: about 5,500 square feet
Average green stimpmeter reading according to John Canavan: 11
Average green stimpmeter reading at Oakmont CC (known to be fastest in the world): 13-15
It takes 7 guys 2.5 hours: just to mow the greens.
As you all know certain greens on the course are extremely hard to read. Our greens are filled with obvious, subtle and downright confusing breaks. The astute golfer pays attention to all of it. Playing here takes a certain mental awareness when walking on to a green. The better the player the more infrequent he/she makes “reading” errors. Example: When putting from the bottom of #11 green (north to south) and pin is back left it breaks a lot more from left to right than you would read. On the same green (#11) when putting (west to east) with the hole somewhere in the middle it breaks a lot less from right to left as one would read.
The ACE Club is one huge roller coaster of confusing and difficult reads. The point to all of this is to pay attention and don’t have “repeating read errors.” Golf is hard enough.
Because of our greens, poor iron players and poor chippers/pitchers can get really discouraged. If they continuously leave the ball on the wrong side of certain greens; left of # 2, back of #17, big putting numbers are coming.
The next thing is to count your putts every round. If you find your numbers are generally under 34 putts that’s pretty good, 34-36 putts per round is fair, 37+ and it might be time for a putting/reading lesson. These numbers are slightly on the high end of the scale because of our huge greens. Tiger won one of his majors with 120 putts over 72 holes, 30 per round average, on extremely difficult greens. Another factor in this equation is the putting surfaces and their conditions and as you know our greens are almost always in perfect condition.
Regarding putting, in my experience in our great game, one can’t ever reach his/her potential unless somewhat dedicated practice sessions are devoted to only putting. Through many years of teaching and playing the game, this is the area most neglected by mid to high handicap players. As for additional information about putting, statistics have proven that most of us will, especially putts with significant breaks from significant distances, under read the break.
Regarding the mechanics of putting here is what I know about the above average putters:
1-They are dedicated to learning how to read greens.
2- They have a consistent routine when hitting every putt, same number of practice strokes, same number of looks at the target and same timing of hitting the putt.
3- They have strokes that are generally equal in length backstroke vs. forward stroke. Generally the best putters favor a longer back stroke with a shorter finish which is the exact opposite of what I see in high handicap players.
4- They have almost zero lower body (hips and legs) motion during the execution of a putt.
5- They understand that the contact point is above the equator of the ball and that the best roll comes from a slightly ascending blow. Good consistent rolls equal speed control, speed control equals more makes and fewer 3 putts, period.
6- They use a somewhat traditional reverse overlap grip, if not using left hand low or the claw grip.
Golf is a lot more fun when you improve at putting and total torture when you do not.
See you on the practice green!