Monday, November 1, 2004
25 Best Short-Game Tips Ever!
21. Ride The Rails
You’ll enjoy the best putting results with a stroke that travels straight back and through along the target line. To build such a stroke, position two yardsticks on the ground so that the head of your putter barely fits between them, with about a 1⁄4-inch margin on each side. You’ll be using a ball in this drill, so you’ll need a target. I recommend using something significantly smaller than an actual hole—a quarter, for instance, or the leg of a chair. Your target should be six to 10 feet away. Concentrate on keeping the putterhead inside the two yardsticks, or “rails.” If you do, you’ll increase your chances of striking the ball directly on the sweet spot, and hitting the ball on the sweet spot is absolutely essential for gaining not only accuracy, but distance control.
22. Straight Arm
“Keep your left arm straight” may be an overused swing thought, but it’s very useful for greenside chips. From the light rough around the green, try this technique: Using a 7-iron, take a narrow stance, keeping the majority of your weight on your front foot. With your hands forward, make a simple pendulum swing. Accelerate through the ball into a finish that’s as long or slightly longer than your backswing. Above all, keep that left arm straight well into your finish. If you keep your wrist firm, you’ll experience consistent, squared contact (adjust for distance by the length of your backswing).
23. Pitching Setup
Hitting crisp pitch shots begins with hitting down on the ball, and good players know that to hit down, they need to set up “on top” of the ball. Good pitchers assume a narrow stance with the ball positioned in the middle or back of the stance and with their weight favoring the front leg. This setup places the head on top of the ball and the hands in front of the golf ball. It also promotes a downward angle of attack, facilitating ball-first contact. The tendency with a high-handicapper is to try to lift the ball in the air. As such, most amateurs lean back on the rear foot at address and scoop the ball at impact. This setup promotes a sweeping motion, which can lead to fat and thin pitches.
24. Four-Line Setup
Unlike the golf swing, there are almost no centrifugal forces at work in the putting stroke. Therefore, whatever you do at address pretty much determines what you’ll do with the putter during the stroke.
In studying the best players on Tour, it’s easy to find common denominators in both their setup positions and strokes. Obviously, there are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part, common traits run rampant in the setup positions of great performers on the green. Four lines define these commonalities.
1 The first line runs from the eyes to the inside edge of the golf ball. When the eyes are in alignment over the inside edge of the golf ball, the player is better able to line up the putter to his or her target and visually track the line on which the ball will travel.
2 The second line runs from the shoulders straight down through the arms and hands. When the hands and arms are in alignment under the shoulders, the player can swing them back and through naturally, creating the optimal putterhead path.
3 The third line bisects the center of the hips and the heels. The proper alignment of the hips and heels creates balance and stability during the stroke. When a player is centered, stable and in balance, he or she can attain consistent, solid contact.
4 The fourth line is drawn from the puttershaft through the inside edge of the forearms. This line is achieved by placing the grip of the putter more through the palms than in the fingers. By aligning the shaft and the forearms, a single lever is created, resulting in optimal control during the stroke.
25. Flatten It Out
Establishing and maintaining a flat left wrist throughout the putting stroke is the key to rolling the ball consistently. For one, it keeps the left wrist from rotating, and if the wrist doesn’t rotate, the putterface can’t open or close. One thing you can do to encourage a flat left wrist in your putting stroke is to use a shorter putter (33 inches should do the trick). This will allow your left arm (and everything attached) to hang straight from the shoulder. Also, position the ball off the front foot. This will flatten the left wrist and help line it up with the outside of the left shoulder.
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