My friend and I were having coffee the other day and he was whining about how his game has become stale. He really believes he's reached a plateau where there are no more strokes to be gained during a round of golf. He was depressed, to say the least, but he was also wrong.
My buddy is no Sam Snead (and neither am I) but he's a solid player. His drives are usally reasonable in both distance and trajectory, meaning he doesn't hook or slice anymore than the rest of us. His mid-game is good, he knows how to choose and use his long irons, his close game is very good and he can get out of a bunker when he finds himself in one. All in all, a good solid game.
Until he gets on the green.
What I suggested to him is something I think we can all learn from. If you four or five putt most of the greens on your course, you're adding a lot of strokes to your overall score. My suggestion to my friend was that rather than try to improve the other parts of his game, if he would simply putt one less stroke (on those four and five putt holes) he'd shave a significant amount of strokes off his game. If he could take one putting stroke off each hole, he'd save 18 strokes!
Now if you're a good putter already, this probably won't work for you. But if you normally get on the green in regulation and then have to putt more than twice to get into the cup, well, maybe you, too, could shave some strokes off your game by simply improving your putting abilities.
There are a gazillion tips on putting--some work and some are just goofy--but nothing will improve your putting more than practice. My friend never spends time on the practice green and it shows when he's on the course. But in his case--and in a lot of other cases, I suspect--there is really no other part of his game that he can significantly improve. And, frankly, he doesn't need to spend time on his drive--he's got that nailed. He needs to spend time putting. That's what's killing his score card.
If you know--or even suspect--that your putting is poor, get off the driving range and get on the putting green. You will be amazed at how fast your putting can improve when you spend just a little time each week practicing those putts. That improvement will carry over to your next round of golf, too, and you'll see strokes simply fading away.
Practice those putts!