Salt helped people with their swings on the driving range every day. He could usually help people find a more consistent swing, which is what they all needed. But, he knew when he might have a real golfer on his hands when a student would ask, “Shouldn’t we go to the putting green? That’s where I’m spending all my strokes.”.
One such pupil was Jenny, a sophomore in high school and a star player for her high school golf team. She wanted to play the LPGA tour. Salt knew she was not ready, but admired her ambition.
Jenny knew she was not ready, too. Her handicap was 7, but she was a better ball striker than this. She had way too many three putts. She knew she needed some help. Though she was skeptical of old Salt, she also knew he was well-respected in golfing circles. And so she came by to seek his advice.
“Hi Salt, I’m Jenny”, she said.
“Hi Jenny. Pleased to meet you. I’ve seen you play a few times. You are a great ball striker.” Salt could make small talk when he had to.
“Thanks. But I need to improve my putting, Salt. Last time out, I shot a 76 but had four three-putts. I can’t win tournaments like that!”
Salt was a little alarmed at the intensity in her voice. “High strung, this one,” he thought to himself.
“Well, maybe we should head over to the putting green and have a look,” Salt suggested.
And so they did. Jenny dropped a dozen or so balls on the green and proceeded to launch them, one after another, at a distant hole.
Salt was alarmed.
“Hold on for a minute here Jenny,” said Salt.
“I wanted to get going on this practice right away,” Jenny said. “Don’t you agree?”.
“Jenny, I already see several things I’d like you to do differently. I think these will help your putting quite a bit.”
“What is it?” said Jenny. She was a bit insecure about her putting. Do you think my grip is bad? Should I go to a belly putter? I’ve been thinking about that. Or maybe I’ll switch back to a blade from this mallet. What about this old grip — should I get a thicker grip?” The questions were coming in rapid-fire succession, but Salt remained unfazed.
“Jenny, I’d like you to practice with two balls only,” said Salt.
“Two balls? I need more practice than that, Salt,” Jenny retorted. She was beginning to wonder if this old codger was worth her time.
“Yes, two balls only. And here’s what you’re going to do. You will pick a distant hole. Make your best effort on the first putt. Then improve upon it with your second putt. Then, walk to the hole and finish out your putts. Don’t stop putting until both balls are in the hole. Keep track of your three putt percentage. Do that for 30 minutes, and I’ll check back on you.” And Salt headed back into the clubhouse to find a cup of coffee.
Jenny was a bit miffed. What kind of silly game was this? She wanted to hear about technique, or club face angle, or something. But, she did as Salt suggested. After all, she couldn’t leave, because her Mom had dropped her off and wouldn’t be back for an hour at least.
Her first attempt was at a distant hole, and she ended up 20 feet short. Her second putt was better, but still ten feet away. She wanted to hit another. But she didn’t, because of what Salt had told her. She walked to her balls. On her way, she noticed that it was much more uphill than she thought. “Must be why I was short,” she noted.
She missed both of her next putts, then tapped her balls in. “Two lag putts, two three putts. This is not good,” thought Jenny. She was determined to do better.
The next hole she selected was a bit closer, and downhill. Jenny studied it much more carefully. She hit her first putt within five feet, her second within three feet. She was happy with this, and was about to pick them up, but didn’t. She putted out, as she had been told. And, she missed one.
Now she was mad. But she was focused.
She selected her next hole, and walked to the cup and back to be sure she had a good read. Her first putt was within three feet, her second within one foot. She lined up her next putts carefully and did not look up until she heard them drop. Two two-putts. Finally. She felt a little better.
And then she smiled. Maybe Salt knew what he was doing after all. Jenny continued with her practice.
Salt came by half an hour later.
“How’s the putting going, Jenny?” he asked.
Jenny smiled. “Pretty well, Salt, I think.”
“Let’s see you get close to that hole,” said Salt. He pointed at a hole about 40 feet away, downhill, with about five feet of left-to-right break.
“OK, said Jenny.” And she walked to the cup and back, picked her line, aligned her ball on that line, and stroked her two putts within three feet. She walked to the hole and sunk them both. Two two-putts.
“Well done,” said Salt. “Now how about that hole over yonder?”
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