The Other Game

If you want to be a complete golfer, you have to become a masterful putter

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If you're missing too many putts to either side of the hole, here's a great drill to help you figure out why.

Notice how I'm hitting putts out of a "track" that I've set up with two shafts? I also have a tee placed on the target line as the ball comes out of the track.

If you're hitting putts and the ball is hitting the tee, you're doing great! If you're missing the tee though, check out these parts of your putting stroke: First, make sure you're aimed correctly. The "track" isolates your stroke, so it should be easy to aim, but always make sure your clubface is aimed square to the target first. The "track" also will let you know if your stroke has some pull or push in it. If you're having a hard time keeping your putter in the track during your stroke, you need to work on your putting path. If you're trying to swing the putter from inside to square and then back to inside (the Stan Utley approach), that's fine. Just take the inside shaft away, and the drill still works. If your path is off, you'll miss the tee. A pull stroke will miss left; a push stroke will miss right.

Finally, if your aim and stroke feel good but you're still missing the tee, you have excessive clubface rotation in your putting stroke. If you're opening or closing the clubface during your stroke and not returning the clubface squarely at impact, the ball will miss the tee. An open clubface at impact causes the ball to miss right; a closed clubface at impact will miss left.

Wrist action is the enemy of a good putting stroke. To keep your wrists out of your stroke, a good grip and setup is vital. Here's how to do it: Place the grip in the palms of both hands so your thumbs rest directly on the center—or flat part—of the grip. Also place your hands slightly "ahead" of the ball at address. This position, a slight "forward press," should give you a feel of a flat lead wrist and a bent trailing one. During the stroke, try to keep this position throughout. Your shoulders should "rock" back and forth, and your arms will swing during the stroke, but the wrist position that you've established at address should remain the same. Taking your wrists out of your stroke will help you control not only your clubface but also the length and pace of your swing. Set up well and keep your wrists quiet!


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