Dear Dr. Putt:
In your opinion, what do you think is the most important shot in golf and why? My friends and I have been having a running debate about this, and we agreed that you will be the judge on who is correct. Jerry
My Dear Jerry:
You fail to mention what your position is on this age-old question. Your answer, preferably written on a twenty dollar bill, might give Dr. Putt some helpful guidance on this matter!
Seriously, the answer is quite elementary, and it is probably not the one that you would expect from Dr. Putt. Nor is it the answer that golf lore attributes to Ben Hogan -- "the next one" -- although that answer is of value in learning to avoid playing golf in the past tense. No, dear Jerry, it is not the putt, or even the putt that goes into the hole, even though a good putt can erase all manner of prior sins and even though one makes more putts than any other stroke in the course of a round.
The most important stroke is the initial stroke on the tee, usually the drive. This stroke sets up the entire hole and builds confidence, or destroys it, for the course the entire hole. A decent drive in the fairway allows one to usually come close to the green, from which one can at least have a chance of getting up and down in two and make par. It is not bogeys that ruin a score, but doubles or worse. And almost always double bogeys start with a bad tee shot. Good tee shots are critical at the professional level and even more critical at the level of recreational players, as the weekend player is less adept at "trouble shots."
Although Dr. Putt specializes in putting, the other end of the game, the one that begins each hole, is certainly most critical in making a good score. In addition, putting for par is a lot more fun than trying to make that 6 footer to save a bogy. So, work on putting, but also work on keeping the ball in the short grass off the tee! Hope this settles the matter for you.
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