If you hang around a golf course or a golfer, you’re bound to hear the phrase:
“Drive for show, putt for dough.”
The drive – the big swing a the start of the hole – takes a lot of muscle.Your core is engaged, your legs need to work, your arms and shoulders rotate fully. It’s a really big movement. Watch this video of golf great Ben Hogan discussing the basics of a swing.
It’s big. It’s muscular. It’s showy.
A lot of people spend a ton of time practicing their drive. Hey, there might be people watching that shot. There might be a chance the audience will applaud, or at least say, “wow” under their breath at that magnificent, powerful, arcing ball flight.
Ah, the prospect of adulation. Extremely compelling for so many of us.
Yet, a big, muscular, showy drive has very little to do with a great golf score.
Because the real place to score is on the green, when you putt.
In a typical par four hole, the idea is that you hit a good drive, make a decent approach shot, and then you have two putts on the green to get in the hole. If you’re a good putter, you might sink it in one stroke, giving you a birdie – which is a great score. A series of birdies and you win the tournament, or at least a couple of bucks from your buddies.
That’s the reason people say, “Drive for show, putt for dough.”
A putt is the opposite of a drive. Rather than big movements, a great putt is minimal movement, controlled, small. Repeatable. Watch Tiger Woods putt and you’ll see what I mean.
So, it’s big and showy vs. smaller and purposeful.
And now you know why I’m writing this blog, even if you don’t play golf.
The big, showy effort is so fulfilling, yet it’s often the small, focused, repetitive stuff that pays off.
You know this.
So, if you’re burned out, you may want to do the big swing by quitting in a huff, but you might just want to putt it. Do some small, repetitive steps – like leaving on time. Like tending to your self care. Like having a life outside the office. Like saying no sometimes. Like making time to connect with people who can help you find a new job.
If you’re stuck, putt it. Test and try in tiny chunks, and see what feels better than whatever you’ve got right now.
If you want to grow, putt it. Read a book. Take a class. Get a mentor.
Practice, practice, practice.
Because if you really want to win the dough, you become a great putter.