If you actually want to get better at golf, this is what you should focus on

Welcome to Play Smart, a game improvement column and podcast from editor Luke Kerr-Dineen to help you play smarter, better golf.

You can subscribe to the Play Smart podcast on Apple here, or on Spotify right here.

Cameron Smith is one of the best players on the PGA Tour, and becoming known as perhaps the best putters of his generation. There’s no doubting of his ability: He’s gaining more than half a stroke on his peers each round he plays, according to the stats, which makes him one of the best putters in golf.

Yet the statistics also reveal something rather interesting: Of the more than 1.6 strokes Cameron Smith gains on the field every round he plays, only about 30 percent come with his putting. Most of his gains actually come from his ball striking, and specifically his iron play: About 55 percent the shots he gains on other golfers in the field come with his iron shots.

How could it be that one of the best putters in golf is actually more dependent on his iron play, the statistically strongest part of his game?

That’s the question my co-host Reed Howard and I tackle Thursday’s 12-minute episode of the Play Smart podcast.

Exploding the “drive for show, putt for dough” myth was actually a key part of golf statistician Dr. Mark Braodie’s groundbreaking book, Every Shot Counts, and there’s a lot the rest of us can learn from it for our own games.

“Putting and chipping…honestly, that’s probably not where you’re losing your strokes,” says Reed Howard.”Ball-striking, that’s where you have the opportunity to gain or lose more strokes. If you have a limited amount of time, that’s what you should focus on. Hitting the ball more solidly, keep your tee-shots in play.”

Listen to the full 11-minute episode below, and subscribe on Apple here.

Want to overhaul your bag for 2022? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. 

Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.