No low putts, right?
Every disc golfer has heard this advice at one time or another.
If you miss low, they say, you never gave it a chance to go in.
Why, I ask, have low putts earned such a poor reputation? If a putt misses too high, or too wide, did it really have more of a chance to go in than if it had missed low?
As a result, I am writing in defense of these so-called “low putts.”
The reality is that a low putt deserves at least equal status with any putt that leaves us with more work to do before marking our scorecards. A putt that misses two feet low had every bit the same chance as a putt that misses two feet high; that is to say, not much of one.
Putting is not a game of chance. Rather, it is an opportunity to focus and execute. We should never be thinking about “not missing low” or “not missing high.” Instead, all of our attention should be on burying the putter into the very heart of the chains. Anything else is a distraction.
Of course there are other things to consider when lining up a putt. If there is cliff or an out of bounds line behind your target, you may want to take some speed off your putt. If there is a strong left-to-right wind, you may want to put a hyzer angle on the putter to make sure that it does not fly off like a kite.
That said, once you have lined up your putt and made your calculations, there is nothing left to do but visualize and execute.
Once the putter has left your hand, there are three potential outcomes: You make it (woo-hoo!), you miss with the putter remaining close (meh), or you miss with the putter traveling far enough to give you another pressure-packed putt (d’oh!).
A low miss seems likely, in most circumstances, to leave you with a shorter comeback putt.
Why, then, have low putts gained such a poor reputation? Is it that disc golfers actually assume the conventional wisdom that low putts never had a chance?
I don’t believe that this is the case, and I would guess that most players understand putting to be a matter of execution rather than one of chance.
My explanation is that the “no low putts” movement has grown out of the gamesmanship that often surfaces in friendly competition.
To miss low is wimpy, and if you miss far – well, at least you gave it a manly effort.
Missing low is also seen as evidence of tightness or nerves. But how many times have you missed a putt low and then overcompensated by throwing a putt that is too high? In both cases, nerves may have prevented success.
Don’t be drawn into these mind games. The quality of your miss has nothing to do with whether you threw too high or too low. Rather, it is in how close you came to realizing the putt which you had envisioned.
So the next time you hit the very top of the cage with your putt, be not discouraged that you “never gave it a chance.” You are so very close to being dialed-in. Keep focused, and throw the next one into the heart of the chains.
Matthew Rothstein is a professional-level player based in Fort Collins, Colorado.