Friday, August 1, 2003
One Hour To Better Putting
A tried-and-true method for becoming a lights-out putter
4) Arm Swing:
In a good putting stroke, the arms should move freely from the shoulders and swing so that there’s no wrist activity. A good tool to check your arm swing is to place a golf tee in the end of your grip. With a good motion, the golf tee, your arms and the putterhead will move together to the target. Trouble occurs if the putterhead moves forward as the golf tee moves away from the target.
5) Rhythm: (20 Minutes)
A successful, consistent putting stroke must have rhythm, one that takes into account your inherent sense of tempo and the need to create equal backstroke and forwardstroke lengths. The best way to practice rhythm is to use a metronome. Set it between 54 and 64 beats-per-minute. Experiment until you feel a beat that’s attuned to your personal body rhythm. Next, try to make some practice strokes with the end of the backswing occurring on one click and the end of the forward motion on the next click. Keep swinging and let the rhythm ingrain itself into your system. With practice, the tempo will grow to become a natural part of your swing.
Touch and Feel
The problem with most players is that they focus too much on mechanics and contact and not enough on how much energy is needed to produce the correct distance. That’s putting touch. If yours is a little off, add the following three drills to your putting practice regimen.
1) Eyes Have It Drill: Attempt three long putts, a minimum of 50 feet. If you follow the norm, most of your attempts will come up short. Try the same putt, but this time look at your target during the entire motion. Odds are you’ll hit these putts past the hole. The reason is that your eyes have an uncanny way of communicating feel to your body. This is a great drill that leads to a good pre-stroke routine in which you look at the target during your practice motions until you’re confident of your stroke’s power.
2) Safety Zone Drill: On the green, make a semicircle around the back edge of the hole using the length of your putter as a guide and mark the perimeter with a few tees. From different lengths, practice until you can get 10 putts in a row to come to rest either in the hole or inside this semicircular “safety zone.”
3) Closest-To-The-Hole Contest: With your golf partner, play a putting match in which you get points for being the closest to the hole. Award five points for making a putt and two points for lagging inside the length of your putter. A bonus point is awarded to the ball that’s closest to the hole. For any putt outside the “safety zone,” deduct one point. Play to an agreed-upon total for your beverage of choice (save the champagne for the winning putt at the Club Championship)!
Confidence: (10 Minutes)
The best putters in the world have the ability to read greens and judge distance correctly. They also have solid alignment routines and fundamentally sound putting mechanics. Their rhythm is flawless and consistent. But these things wouldn’t make them great putters unless they got used to making putts and getting the sensory feedback of seeing and hearing the ball dive into the hole. There’s only one way to get this confidence: Make more putts.
Finish your hour by making as many short putts as you can in a row. My personal best is 56, but set yourself a goal of, say, 10 or 15. Make them short, two or three feet. Place them on different angles to the hole and treat each putt as if it was for a big tournament win. Use your imagination and envision yourself sinking a three-footer to beat Tiger in a sudden-death playoff. Dream a little and build a better mental outlook on your putting.
PGA professional Steve Mitchell is the Director of Instruction for Kiawah Resorts on Kiawah Island, S.C.
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