Accelerate The Putter
Acceleration is the increasing speed at which the clubhead moves through the ball and is important not only for hitting shots of substantial distance, but also for short putts. In fact, if you find that you're missing too many short putts, the cause may be failure to accelerate the putterhead. Here's a drill that will help.
On the practice putting green, find a hole that will permit you to set up for a flat and straight putt. Place a sand wedge perpendicular to the line of the intended putt so that the face is down and the thinner part of the shaft is on the line of the putt. The shaft should lie just at the edge of the cup._Ê
From a distance of three feet, putt to the hole with sufficient speed so that the ball will hit the shaft, pop into the air and fall in the hole. If you decelerate the putterhead through the stroke, you'll generate insufficient speed for the ball to overcome the shaft in front of the hole. However, smooth acceleration of the putter will produce enough speed to hole the putt over the shaft.
This drill should be part of your regular practice routine, as it will teach you to accelerate the putterhead and give you confidence to make those short putts that are critical to good scoring. If you're feeling extra adventurous, try this technique on a short breaking putt. Just remember to set the shaft perpendicular to the break in order to ensure the ball pops straight into the cup.
After a few practice sessions, you can take this drill to the course by visualizing the wedge's shaft in front of the hole. Visualizing will not only foster proper acceleration, but also will have you focused on the process of making a putt rather than worrying about the outcome.
The key to accelerating and staying on line when making short putts is to keep your hands ahead of the ball, thus preventing excessive wrist motion on the forwardswing that can send the ball rolling offline. One technique I've employed to help me stay on track is the left-hand low grip (see right). By positioning my left hand low, I'm able to prevent my hands from releasing too much.
This helps me to keep the putterface facing the target, even after contact with the ball. Also, note how I hold the finish. That's a sure sign I've accelerated and the ball is on the right line.
PGA teaching professional John O'Leary III is the director of instruction at the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy (APGA), located at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Fla. At the APGA, game improvement is directly related to the fundamentals that Arnold Palmer learned from his father, which were instrumental to his success. For more information, visit www.apga.com.