Sharpen Your Short Game

Labels: PuttingChipping

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If your wrists break down through impact, you have a problem. In fact, if the putterhead is ever in front of the hands, you run the risk of actually hitting the top half of the ball, causing it to dig into the green and pop up off the ground immediately after contact.

Eventually the putter will release and outrace the hands, but in this photo, you can see my wrists are still ahead of the clubhead, relative to the shaft. Strive for this followthrough position and you’ll quickly see results.

Putt With Left
With only your left hand, try to maintain a flat wrist through the putting stroke. This will help with consistency and contact.

Putt With Right
Using only your right hand, try to hold the angle formed by the back of your right wrist through the stroke.

Controlling the distance of your putts, both long and short, is a task many amateurs overcomplicate. To simplify, check out the photo above and notice the four tees and the ghosted putterheads above them. The two outer tees represent a longer putting stroke; the two inner tees are of a shorter stroke.

As you putt from a longer distance, the trick is to let your putter swing wider than it would on a shorter putt. Don’t try to force a long putt into a quick, jabby short stroke. Allow the putter to swing on a wider arc, and be sure to try to match up the followthrough length with the backswing length. Conversely, a shorter putt is best executed with a shorter putting stroke. Again, the backswing and followthrough length should mirror each other.

Now here’s the kicker. Whether you have a long or short putt, the same rhythm ought to be used for both. In other words, long putts don’t need to be long, slow strokes, and short putts shouldn’t be quick, jabby strokes. Think in terms of both long and short putts (and all putts in between) as being on the same metronome. A short stroke putts at a smooth 1-second-to-1-second rhythm, and a longer putt is maybe a 2-second-to-2-second rhythm. You don’t want to be 2-seconds to 1, or 1-second to 2 for any putt. The key is to maintain a similar stroke speed for all your putts, and simply adjust your seconds as needed, based on the length of the putt. Just be sure to stay consistent and keep the backswing and forwardswing even! Use a stopwatch and dial in your rhythm, and stick to it with all your putts. Another common flaw I see from students who struggle with their putting is their tendency to lift the putter with their arms, as opposed to developing a rocking motion of the shoulders. When you lift, you lose a sense of your putting arc, which then leads to a host of problems that, no doubt, result in more bad putts.

A great way to develop a rocking motion of the shoulders, as opposed to a lifting one, is to practice a few strokes with the hands down on the shaft. If you can manage to keep the putter grip in the center of your stomach and not touching your arms, you’ll quickly get a feel for making a putting stroke without the need to lift and pull up on the putterhead. Give it at least 10 practice strokes. Then come time to make a real putt, remember what the drill felt like and groove the rocking, not lifting, motion into your putting stroke.

I’m a big believer that the most repeatable stroke is one that travels on a simple arc, from inside the target line to back inside the line. If you try to putt square-to-square, you’ll see that it requires a lot of manipulation of the hands—which, by the way, is far from natural, considering we stand to the side of the ball and putt from an angle, not from directly above the ball.


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