I’ve always loved the practice green.

To me, there’s just something peaceful about it, something you don’t find on the driving range—crammed in between two dozen guys wacking oversized drivers.

practice green

(Image: Robert Bruce's iPhone)

The practice green is quiet. Most decent courses have larger greens, so I can find a corner, throw down a few balls, and practice five-foot putts for hours—literally. The “tink” of the ball off my Ping Anser puts me in some kind of Ben Crenshaw-induced trance.

In college, I worked as a cart guy at the same course at which I was a member. On Mondays, when the course was closed, I could still play because I was also an employee. I spent many a Monday evening in the summer lining up a perfect five-foot circle of balls around a golf hole.

On more than a few occasions, the superintendent scolded me for leaving deep footprints on the green. Yeah, when you practice the same five-foot-putt for two hours, that tends to happen.

Yesterday, I spent an hour on the green, practicing everything from two-footers to thirty-footers. There is nothing more definite and satisfying in golf than watching that small white ball disappear into black nothingness. Or something like that.

If you’ve just started playing golf, don’t let anyone fool you. Your short game is vital to your success on the course. Thirty to fifty percent of your shots will come from putting—even more when you include chipping.

Too many golfers fall in love with the driver, try to bomb everything, and spend zero time on the practice green. A five-foot putt counts just as much as a 300-yard drive—and, don’t fool yourself, you aren’t hitting 300 yard drives anyway (perhaps some foreshadowing to a future pet peeve?).

Spend some time on the practice green, and you’ll be amazed at how many shots you can save on the course. Since few golfers practice putting, you’ll find the practice green to be a peaceful, solitary place.

If Thoreau was a golfer, he would’ve been a great putter.