Friday, November 1, 2002
Rethink Your Game
How do you really lower your scores? A change of approach can lead to a favorable change in score
Practice putts from 20 feet on a flat surface with an eye toward rolling each putt to within the length of your puttershaft from the hole. The key here is not to focus on holing every putt, but to get inside that “gimme” area. Perform the drill until you can get five balls in a row inside the puttershaft, then move to longer lengths in five-foot increments.
If you develop a good consistent beat to your stroke—and practice, practice, practice—you’ll become more in control of the distances your putts travel and, ultimately, save a ton of shots on the greens.
Putts Inside Six Feet
Missed putts from short distances build as much doubt in a player’s mind as any other shot in golf. To overcome that feeling of doubt, you need to offset it by creating confidence in your ability to get the ball into the hole.
How do you create this confidence? The best way is to practice in an environment built for success and take the fear out of the short ones by simply holing a lot of short putts. When practicing these short putts, use the Chalk Line Drill.
Putterface aim and control is the key to solid putting. The Chalk Line will help you with both. Set up the drill by simply running a chalk line on a flat section of a practice green from the cup to your ball. Position your golf ball on the line and make your stroke. As you do, focus on moving your putterhead directly along the chalk line. If the putterhead moves off the line on either the backstroke or forwardstroke, you’ve allowed a chance for the ball to stray off-line and potentially miss the cup. Also, you want to make sure your putterface remains perpendicular to the chalk line. On short putts, a straight path and squared face are paramount to success.
Once you get accustomed to seeing the ball go in the hole, you’ll be more inclined to trust your aim and stroke on the course.
Once you get your tee game and putting under control, you can take your scores even lower by chipping the ball closer—much closer—to the hole when you miss the green. If PGA Tour players rely on getting up and down when their iron games are a little off, so should amateurs. In order to get up and down more consistently, chip it dead—to the point where putting is taken out of the equation.
The only way to develop a chipping game that will send the ball close to the hole is to control the distance the ball travels. And you’ll never know how far the ball will travel without consistent contact. You need to employ a method that will allow you to contact the ball first. Any other type of impact will make distance control difficult.
Choke up slightly on the club.
Extend your arms at address.
Bend from your hips until the club lightly touches the top of the grass.
Play the ball slightly back in your stance.
Swing your clubhead down and through the golf ball.
Keep the back of your left hand pointing toward the ground through impact.
Work on these three areas and I guarantee that, in no time, you’ll be enjoying your best rounds ever.
PGA professional Chuck Winstead is the director of golf at the University Club in Baton Rouge and at English Turn Golf and Country Club.
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