Learn Like A Pro, Play Like A Pro!

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Always hit your pitch and chip shots with two targets in mind. Why? Because around the green is where the golf course has the most undulations and slopes. Most fairways are generally flat, but around the green, if you're paying attention, you'll miss out on some critical breaks that can greatly affect how your ball rolls once it hits the ground.

HIT YOUR MARKS

When it comes to pitch shots, the average player is often thinking about "getting it close" with no true plan to achieve that goal. Pitch shots definitely require proper technique; however, being clear about the shot before you execute it is crucial.

There are two targets on a pitch shot: the end goal, which is the hole; and the intermediate target, where you plan on landing the ball, which then will get you to the hole. Most golfers skip Target #2 and just hope to get it close. Having a clear intermediate target will help you clarify the trajectory you plan on hitting the shot and any break the ball may take on the green. Visualizing a clear picture of a successful shot will help your confidence and commitment, giving you a better opportunity to get up and down.

USE YOUR PUTTER GRIP, NOT A FULL-SWING GRIP
Putting is a different stroke altogether, and your grip should be different, too. I want you to move from a power mind-set to a finesse mind-set, and changing from a full-swing grip to a putting grip can help with that. I like a putting grip more in the palms, and the hands overlapping more, which stabilizes my wrists. But as Rick will tell you, there's no one right way to do it. Just go with what feels best and keep the hands quiet through the stroke. The key, again, is to adopt a grip style that removes you from hitting the ball with power and instead helps you hone in on rolling the ball with finesse.

CHOOSE THE STYLE THAT WORKS FOR YOU!

BE AN INDIVIDUAL
Throughout golf history, there have been many different putting styles that have had success on the professional tours. Putting requires both distance control and proper direction, and being confident with your style will lead to making more putts.

The simplified goal is to roll the ball with a square clubface with the proper amount of energy. Your clubface at impact is the most important element to proper direction. Your hands have the biggest effect on the clubface, so make sure you pick a grip that makes it easy to return the face to square at impact. Next, your distance control is affected by the length of your motion and the speed of your stroke. Some players prefer to let the arms move the putter back and forth, while other players feel the shoulders rock the putter. Your stroke will be affected by your posture, too. Some like to be tall over the ball, while others are more bent over.

The most important thing is to feel comfortable with your putting style so you can repeat the same stroke as often as possible. A repetitious stroke is a good stroke, even if you tend to push, cut or even pull your putts. If you repeat your stroke, you'll know what to expect, and in the end, make more putts!

Rick Sessinghaus, PGA, is the founder of MZ Coach, an online mental game learning center for continuing mental game success. Visit mzcoach.com.

Zach Allen, PGA, is an award-winning instructor based at DeBell Golf Club in Burbank, California. Visit zachallengolf.com.




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