Drive For Show..and Putt for Dough?

By: Ben Throckmorton

A popular golf cliche that seems to appear in print and video often is “Drive For Show and Putt for Dough.” If you play regularly, you’ve probably heard it uttered by your playing companions, probably the one who has just drained a long putt to win the weekend wagers or someone who can't keep up off the tee... but is it really true?

On the surface, you might say that putting is far more important than driving the golf ball simply due to the fact that the average person in the course of a round generally has only 14 attempts to hit a drive, while the same player player will attempt somewhere in the neighborhood of 32 putts per round. I believe this analysis is misleading especially for mid to high handicappers and beginners.

Here’s why!

Your tee shot sets you up on every hole up to either post a good score or a bad one. Nowhere in golf, are the penalties more severe than when you’re driving the golf ball.

For’re playing a 300 yard par four hole, straight away, no trouble to speak of except out of bounds to the right side of the fairway. If you hit a good tee shot, 200 yards down the middle of the fairway, you have set yourself up for a short iron approach which should yield a score of at worst 5 and possibly even a 3 or 4.

BUT....if you slice the ball out of bounds to the right, you’re still standing there with your driver in hand but now you’re playing your third shot from the tee box. You have effectively, with a poor tee shot, taken a sure 5 or a probable 4 and turned it into at least 6, more likely 7, or even worse 8, 9, or 10 should you drive the ball out of bounds again.

The stroke and distance penalty imposed for driving the ball out of bounds and for losing your golf ball make accurate tee shots an absolute necessity if you want to shoot good scores.

This is why it’s so important to drive the golf ball well.

Having said that, there is no part of the game that will allow you to shave strokes off your score like good putting. Most players can save at least 5 shots per round just by avoiding 3 putts and making everything from 3 feet in.

Bottom line, both aspects of the game, driving and putting, are essential to shooting good scores and you should work equally hard on your full swing and short game.