Friday, February 16, 2007
No-Frills Putting Drills
Nine easy ways to lower your score
5 Putt Popper
A common amateur pitfall is to make a long stroke that produces a short putt. A great way to inject some energy into your stroke—and add much needed acceleration—is to practice this tee-popping drill. Place two tees in the ground, as wide apart as a golf ball, so they form a gate. Place the ball so that slightly more of it is on the hole side of the gate and make a stroke much like you did in the one-handed drill, with a little wrist hinge in your backstroke. Tap your putterhead into the tees. Your impact will be halted, but the ball wont. Youll be amazed at the solid contact you get from such little effort.
6 First Down
Hitting your putts the proper distance is more important than getting the correct line. (A two-foot, pin-high putt is always easier to make than a five-footer that has come up short.) A great way to hone your distance control is to practice this First-Down drill. Lay down two clubs, four paces apart, and start with a handful of balls a few feet short of the first shaft marker. Putt your first ball as close as possible to, but past, the first shaft marker. Your goal is to putt each successive ball past the previous one until it either stops short of your last ball or goes longer than the second shaft marker. If either one of these two things happen, start over. Youll notice that when your objective is to get as many balls in a 12-foot space, but just a little bit farther than the preceding ball, your target focus will narrow and your distance control will improve dramatically.
7 Sweet Spot
One thing all Tour professionals have in common is consistent ballstriking—a product of the ball hitting the center of the clubface. In putting, these center hits produce good roll and consistent speed. To encourage this solid contact, wrap two rubber bands around your blade so they straddle your putters sweet spot. Putts hit off the toe or heel will cause your ball to veer offline. Centered strikes will send the ball rolling down its intended target line. After you feel confident that you can make contact between the rubber bands on a regular basis, take them off and try to continue making contact on the putters sweet spot. If you feel a change in contact quality, its time to put the rubber bands back on and resume the drill.
8 Short-Putt Blues
In the era of long drives, its even more frustrating to miss short putts. After all, when a 280-yard drive counts as much as a botched three-footer, its twice as hard to feel confident walking to the next tee. A great way to feel self-assured from short distances is to place eight balls in a circle two or three feet from the cup. Walk briskly around the hole and tap in each ball, acting as if success is a given. Youll be amazed at how many you make when you dont overthink the little ones. If you really want to improve, start the drill over when you miss and dont stop until you make eight putts in a row.
9 Eyes On The Prize
Unlike most sports, golf asks you to look at the ball rather than your target. (Imagine how silly LeBron James would look if he stared at the ball when he shot!) Still, like throwing a ball to a friend, its often easier to make putts when you look at the hole rather than the ball. When you look at the hole, the information being sent to your brain keeps you focused on distance and direction, not on the mechanics that can misplace your concentration. When you do this drill, keep your eyes on the hole and stroke away. Begin with putts within five feet; after you assume your setup position, look only at the hole while making your stroke. Once you feel more comfortable with this technique, move back to eight or 12 feet and repeat the process. While you may not want to take this technique to the course, youll be surprised how effective it can be at improving your confidence and feel for distance.
PGA Professional Jeff Ritter is director of instruction at the ASU Karsten Golf Academy in Tempe, Ariz.
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