Pertinence of putting game |

Pertinence of putting game

Eben Harrell

For me, the weekend of The Masters golf tournament always marks the beginning of the golf season.

After watching Phil Mickelson gush and smile his way to victory after what seemed to be an all-too-familiar collapse, it’s hard not to be infected with a giddy enthusiasm for the ancient and mysterious game.

Unfortunately, watching the gutsy performances of Masters winners each year usually leads to disappointment, when you rush to the practice range to recreate their glory only to discover that you are your awkward, off-balance self once more.

But here’s the good news: Mickelson himself used to rush to the putting green after watching the Masters and practice 20-foot putts, pretending they were for a green jacket. He missed a lot of them, you can be sure, but in the end, he made the only one that mattered.

We can all learn from Mickelson. Visualization shouldn’t only be the stuff of kids’ imagination. If you play each year in the city championship, pretend to have putts to win the championship flight. If you long to beat your boss over 18 holes, imagine having to get up and down from off the green to send him home with his tail between his legs.

What’s also crucial here is that Mickelson used to rush outside to his putting green, not the driving range. There’s no glory on the range, only divots and sore backs.

You can only have putts to win, not drives. You’ve read it a hundred different times in hundreds of different publications: short game, short game, short game. Go spend some time on the putting green.

Eben Harrell’s e-mail is