What’s the most worthless piece of real estate on a golf course?

You might want to say the tee boxes at the tips. (Does anybody actually use those?) Or maybe the pro shop corner with the ratty used clubs for sale. 

No, actually it’s the practice putting green.

Golfers march to the practice green before a round with determination in their eyes and several balls in their pockets. They line up putts as if they had the eyes of DeChambeau and the skill of Nicklaus. They putt long and then they putt short, checking the roll of the green and the consistency of their putting strokes. They toss a ball or two along the green to check the speed.

The starter ends these advanced studies with notice that the first tee is open and your group is up. Soon the true value of all this pre-round practice will become evident. A missed three-footer. A 10-footer that looks like it will break right but breaks left. A five-footer that rolls over one side of the hole and then four feet past.

All that practice. All that anxiety. All that effort. Wasted. You could have slept 15 more minutes.

It’s much easier to make up strokes on the green in another way. Don’t concentrate so much making your putting better. Work on making everybody else’s worse.

This approach is easier than you might think.

Here’s a quick guide to the Top Ten Ways To Negatively Impact Your Opponent’s Putting:

  1. At just the right moment, as he brings the putter back, rattle your car keys. This method has been proven by your fathers and grandfathers.
  1. Before the round, while your opponent is visiting the restroom, put a thin layer of Gorilla Glue on his putter’s face.
  1. Walk with considerable force across his putting line, then apologize profusely. “Oh, was your ball there?”
  1. Help him read the putt, then convince him that it breaks hard left despite the fact that it clearly breaks right. “You have to take into account the grain of the green.”
  1. Ply him with free beers starting at the first tee. By hole four, his putting stance should be quite wobbly and his vision unsteady.
  1. A well-timed sneeze can work wonders.
  1. Inform him that the PGA, in session the previous day, has imposed a time limit for putts. He has four seconds to line it up, stand over it and putt it.
  1. Hum “Stairway to Heaven” during his takeaway.
  1. Point out the statuesque blonde who’s about to tee off on the adjacent tee box. Even if she’s not statuesque and not blonde.

And the No. 1 way to negatively impact your opponent’s putting: Announce on the first green that you’ve paid his fee for something he really needs – putting lessons from a professional.

Mike Hembree

Mike Hembree is a veteran journalist who has covered a variety of sports for numerous publications and websites, including USA Today, Fox Sports, TV Guide and The Greenville (S.C.) News. He has written 14 books and has won numerous writing awards at the national, regional and state levels. He is a seven-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.