Golfers work on putting

Jul. 25, 2014 @ 04:32 PM

 Spencer Cross and Tyler Bohanan spent hour practicing putting this summer.

But after both fired 1-over-par 38s on the front nine at Gatlinburg Golf Course on Thursday, the pair was left wondering what a couple stronger putts could’ve done for them.

“It’s the same as usual,” Cross said. “Putting screws my round up. I’ve putted these greens for five years. I should be able to putt them a little better.”

Bohanan’s round followed a 36 on the same course on Tuesday when he said he simply putted a little better. The 38 was still the best round recorded in Thursday’s three-team match, with Cross leading his Sevier County teammates to the victory with a team mark of 177. L&N STEM Academy was second at 179 while Bohanan’s Pigeon Forge squad finished with 182. Dallas Bush shot 46 for the Smoky Bears while the Tigers’ Derek Campbell was two strokes behind Bohanan with a 40.

Sidney Wallace shot 53 for the Sevier County girls while teammate Kady Maples had a 60.

Pigeon Forge coach Mitchell Whaley said the quickest way for golfers to drop those scores is a focus on putting. He’s seen improvements from Bohanan after the senior spent all summer working on his short game — both chipping and putting — by devising his own drills.

“I really worked hard on my putting,” Bohanan said. “It didn’t show today but it’s getting a lot better.”

Whaley said Bohanan’s short game has actually helped him get up and down the first two matches when he hasn’t hit as many greens as he’d like. On Thursday, he left a handful of putts just short, a frustration Cross knows all too well with a pair of three-putts in his round.

“I feel like I work pretty hard on it,” Cross said. “But I get out there and I just forget about what I’m doing, I guess.”

Sevier County coach Chad Owenby said he wouldn’t worry too much about Thursday’s round after Cross arrived at the course just in time for the match. The sophomore wrapped up a three-day junior tour event in London, Ky. earlier in the day before journeying 130 miles to Pigeon Forge for the high school match.

Owenby said he’s confident Cross’ putting will come around. He just has to remind himself of the changes he needs to make before every stroke, which can be hard to do.

Putting may be the easiest way to drop strokes, but working on it can be the boring part of golf, Owenby said. Even once he reached college, Owenby still spent twice as much time on the putting green as at the perhaps more glamorous driving range.

“For good players, putting is going to make you shoot under par or it’s going to make you shoot way over par,” Owenby said. “The better you get, the more important that putting is.”