The Other Game

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

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CONTROL YOUR DISTANCE
I think the most important aspect of great putting is distance control. Learning to hit the ball at the proper speed will give you a great chance to not only make putts but also avoid three-putts.

Here's a great drill for learning to control your speed: Find a level area on the practice green and walk 10 paces from the hole. Once you've stopped, you'll be about 30 feet from the hole. Now, take five balls and hit the putts, focusing solely on rolling the ball the right length. Then, do it over and over! After some practice, you'll develop a great feel for the stroke needed for this length putt. To test yourself even more, hit some putts with your eyes closed to see if you really have a feel for the putt. If you do, you now have a reference stroke for a 30-foot putt that you can use when you play. Obviously the green speed at different clubs changes, and you won't always have a flat putt, but this drill will help you control your longer putts.

ONE-HANDED DRILLS

If you feel like one of your hands is too dominant in your stroke or if you feel too "wristy," here's a great drill that will help you. From a distance of 20-30 feet, simply hit putts with one hand on the club. With some practice, you should be able to control your stroke pretty well and you'll also learn to keep your wrists "quiet" during the stroke, because it's very hard to control distance with a one-handed wristy stroke.

After you've mastered the one-handed stroke, take two clubs and hold one in each hand. Set up in your putting stance and notice how far apart the shafts are. Make some swings and try to maintain that distance throughout the swing. If one hand is more dominant—or "wristy"—than the other, the distance between the clubs will change. The goal is to swing them back and forth without any variation between them. If you pull this off, your putting stroke is "balanced" and you're in great shape to make lots of putts.

Steve Dahlby, PGA, is the director of instruction at Forest Highlands Golf Club in Flagstaff, Ariz. He's also the lead instructor of swingmentors.com and can be found at The Golf Club Scottsdale and McCormick Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale during the winter months. Steve has worked with numerous players on the PGA and LPGA Tours.




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