Sunday, December 16, 2012

Making Putting Practice Fun: 7-Up Style

             I’ve been surprised over the past few years at how few people know the putting game 7-Up.  When I grew up, I could barely escape a putting green without at least one game, and ever since then it seems that I have to teach it to anyone I want to play.  So now I’d like to introduce the game to everyone, because there is no golfer who cannot enjoy and benefit from this game and the variations below can turn this fun competition into great practice.

Plain and Simple

            The game of 7-Up is simple and easy at its core.  It can be played with as many people as you’d like, although anything beyond 4 becomes a little cumbersome.  Basically, closest putt to the selected hole wins a point.  Make the putt and you get 3 points.  First player to 7 points wins.  Some key rules to the game:

o   Choose who selects the first hole by lot.  Afterward, the player who is closest to the hole will select the next hole, regardless of whether the second putt is made.
o   You have to two-putt to keep the point.  If you are closest to the hole and miss the putt, you don’t get the point.
o   If you are not closest to the hole and you three-putt, you lose a point.  In the simplest version of the game, you are not allowed negative points.
o   You can stymie the first putt, but not the second putt.  So there is some strategy to where you leave the first putt, but you can’t block someone from the attempt to two-putt.

The Gamers Game

            In this variation there is a little more strategy and a little more gamesmanship.  This is the version my brother and I frequently play and can lead to some very interesting turns.

o   Negative points are allowed, so making sure you don’t three-putt becomes very important.
o   “Knock-Aways” are allowed.  This is where we have the most fun.  You are permitted to knock your opponent’s ball away and the opponent must either play it from where it comes to rest or accept a lost point for three-putting.
o   You must hit 7 exactly.  If you go over, your score goes back down by however many over you went.  For example, if you have 6 points and hole the putt for 3 points, instead of winning you go to 5 points (1 up to 7 and back down 2 to 5).

For the Grinder

            If you’re stuck on not wasting your putting green time on a game, you can try this version, which really helps you focus on your lag putting and distance control. 

o   Following any combination of the rules above, if your first putt is short of the hole you must draw the ball back a putter length before attempting your second putt.  First, you determine who wins the point for closest to the hole, but if you win and are short of the hole you must attempt to hold on to the point from a putter-length further away.

            This version really makes you focus on solid distance control and promotes aggressive but controlled long putts.  This will increase your focus and confidence in trying to make longer putts rather than trying to survive them.

Just In Case

Some other rules you can put into play to make games more interesting:
o   2 points for lip-outs
o   Cannot choose the hole closest to you
o   Play to 11
o   Must make first putt to win

            It is possible to play 7-Up with any combination of the above rules so make sure you choose the version that will be the most fun and beneficial to you.  A game of 7-Up is also useful for warming up because the focus of the game is speed control.  Try playing a game before your next round and see how your lag putting improves.

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