Rick DePamphlis NexLevel Golf
Paul Harney Simple Golf Truths - Putting / Short Game
You Haven't Got a Shot ...
               
Paul was such a stickler on putting particularly short to mid range putts that he even had a formula for 1 putting from 4-8 foot range being commensurate to number of PGA Tour Events and chance of majors won in a single year. The more automatic you could be while still increasing the putting distances in this range, the more tour events and majors you could win in a given year. Such was the backdrop to an up and coming local Professional from Vermont who had PGA Tour aspirations. He called Paul from his home club in Vermont one day and wanted to drive down for Paul to have a look at his game. After driving three hours from Vermont to the Paul Harney Golf Club, the Vermonter gets out of his car, throws this big old staff bag strap over his shoulder and asks where the range is to go warm up. When informed of this, Paul stops this PGA Tour wannabe in his tracks and tells him to meet at the practice green.

Incredulously, the Vermonter meets Paul over at the practice green with his staff bag in tow. After introductions, the Professional from Vermont asks Paul to take a look at his game to see if he has what it takes to make the PGA tour.

"I don't need to see you swing" Paul starts out, "only need to see you putt" as he encircled the hole with a half dozen balls in the 4-8 foot range. Paul did this four or five times, gradually widening the radius of putts until reaching about 8 feet. After about 5-10 minutes worth of seeing the Vermonter make a low percentage of makeable short range putts by tour standards, Paul told him to pick up the balls and put the putter back in his bag and his bag back in his trunk and go back home.

"Don't you want to see the rest of my game" the Vermonter questioned.
    
The way you putt, I don't need to ... you haven't got a shot ... Then he turned around and walked back into the clubhouse.

Lesson: Using course par as baseline; regulation putting half of game - greatest impact on scoring
[PHOTO 10]
The Boss of the Moss ...

Some years later after that formative 6-month period of trial error, self discovery and experimentation, I became not a great putter, not even a consistently good putter but definitely a much better putter. But there was a day when I definitely putted great ...

I had moved out to sunny Southern California and was working on my short game 4-6 hours a day with an 18-hole round sandwiched in between every day [see Not a round over 73 just ahead] I was playing in various So. Cal. PGA mini tour events when I got paired with onetime PGA Tour Star and now PGA Champions Tour player boss of the moss Loren Roberts.

In this particular mini tour event at the La Quinta CC, in Palm Springs, CA, we were to keep each others scorecards. At the time I was an unknown PGA Professional transplant from the northeast and Loren Roberts was an unheralded PGA Assistant Golf Professional yet to qualify for the PGA Tour or win his first Tour Event.

Spending 4-6 hours/day greenside practicing every day for 9 months straight had really sharpened my short game but caused me to neglect my long game and it showed that day on both counts.The opposite held true for Loren Roberts - he must have hit nearly every green that day and may have missed all but one fairway. I, on the other hand, hit only 6 greens and 4 fairways ...

But when we signed and attested our scorecards that day my score was 3 shots lower than Loren's as he shot 76 with several 3 putts and I shot 73 ... with just 23 putts!  When we signed for our scorecards and Loren realized I had beaten him by three shots he said "That may have been the best putting round I've ever seen" but what his eyes seem to be really saying was how in he world did someone like me who hockeyed the ball all over the course beat him by three shots.

Great putting is a good match for anyone ... poor putting is a match for no one.   
I truly believe that round of golf with this unknown transplanted New Englander changed Loren Roberts outlook on putting forever.

Lesson: Great putting is golfs' grand equalizer no matter what difference in long game skill level
No Room for Pictures on the Scorecard ...
               
Whenever I played in a competitive event during my 5 year apprenticeship under Paul, he would always ask me 'how I played'. After one event when I shot 78, he asked me how I played and my reply was "great".
 
"What did you score?" he continued. "78" was my reply.

"78? How did you shoot 78 if you played great?"
  
"I hit the ball solid hit almost every green and fairway and never hit anything out of play". I said.
  
"And you still shot 78? ... then you didn't play great, you hit the ball great ... playing great is being able to score well no matter how you hit it" ...

Which brings me to another event I played in several years later at the Vermont Open. I brought a caddy with me for the three day tournament and upon late afternoon arrival, asked him to meet me on the putting green. There was no practice range at the host course and closest range was a country mile away. So we spent the entire evening on/around the putting green under the lights for about 4 hours ... My caddy grew weary of all the time spent on the short game and wondered aloud what I was doing all of my greenside practice for ... 
  
"You'll find out tomorrow" I said with a follow up guarantee.

The next day out of 9 greens missed I got it up and down 7 times and holed out the other 2 on my way to making the cut.
  
"Now you know why" was my promised reply. There is no room for pictures on the scorecard.

Lesson: *For two weeks spend 90% of your practice on short game alone to cut 5 shots off score
[PHOTO 11]

*Source : Harvey Penick Little Red Book ; pages 47-8 ; Copyright 1992
Not a Round over 73 ...
                
This short game ability to hole out greenside shots in competition was borne out of a 9-month period immediately following my PGA Apprenticeship under Paul Harney when I did nothing but practice my short game every day - not 90% as Harvey Penick suggested - 100% of my practice time was spent on the green/greenside when I was not playing or competing.

I had just relocated to Southern California and was ready to put the Harney/Penick short game practice formula to the test. I was living in San Juan Capistrano and practicing at San Juan Hills GC on a small practice green surrounded by greenside fringe, deep rough and a bunker. I would spend 4-6 hours a day on/around the practice green then go out and play an 18- hole round of golf.

During that 9-month stretch when I committed 100% of my practice time to my short game, I began to experience dramatic results. I developed such an acute sense of touch, feel and tactile sensitivity that I was able to hole out one 1 of every 8 greenside shots in practice. Indeed, my short game became so razor sharp that it took tremendous pressure off my long game and enabled me to make par much more often when I missed a green in regulation and 1 out of 8 chances would hole out for birdie!

Because I was now seeing the ball go in the hole 1 out of every 8 times during my daily greenside practice time, I fully expected to hole out from off the green at least 10% of the time on the course. In fact, I was trying to hole out most of my greenside shots including chips from the fringe, wedges out of the rough and even greenside bunker shots!  I was no longer trying to just chip, pitch or blast a bunker shot within a 3 foot circle of the hole - I was trying to get the ball into the 4 and 1/4 inch circle of the hole!  And could routinely do it at least 10% of the time, just like Paul had suggested for me to find out how - some 5 years prior to me developing this newfound skill.

The Best part? During that 9-month period when I spent 100% of my practice time on my short game alone every day, I didn't shoot a round over 73 at my home course or in competition.

Lesson: Narrow your greenside practice focus on hole to enhance results out on the course
[PHOTO 12]
PHOTO 10: Rick practicing cricle drill around hole
PHOTO 12: Rick practicing greenside shots
PHOTO 11: Rick practicing short game skills