Some well-practiced short game techniques and drills are indispensable year to year and round to round. Here are three tried-and-true ways to keep your game around the green razor sharp.
THE BUMP AND RUN
This type of shot is great for around the green when you are unsure if you should putt or chip, and there’s no obstacle — a bunker, pond or whatever — between you and the target to force a more lofted shot. Take out an 8 iron and hit this shot just like a putt. Keeping the weight on your left side will help get the club just enough under the ball to bump it onto the green and let it roll to the pin.
Photo 1: Weight forward when setting up — This will help lead the ball towards your target and for you to hit down on the ball and not fall behind during impact.
Photo 2: Take the club back a short distance and keep the clubhead close to the ground by removing any wrist break.
Photo 3: Follow through with club facing towards target while keeping the back of your left hand (or right hand for lefties) toward the target as well.
LOWER YOUR PUTTING STROKE
The best putting advice I’d like to offer involves keeping your putter lower longer. As you maintain a “grandfather clock”-like motion with your putter, you want to make sure you are keeping the head low throughout your entire stroke so you do not lift away from the ball.
Lower and longer is key.
What To Do
Photo 1 shows the lower take-back I’m talking about. Then, on the way back, concentrate on keeping that head low through impact with this quick “push” drill. You must maintain the lower motion through-out the entire stroke.
Photo 2: Square contact is the reason for keeping the putting lower longer.
Photo 3 shows me pushing that ball toward the target with a square finish.
In Photo 4 I maintain a low follow through until the very end while keeping the same pace throughout the entire stroke.
What Not To Do
Photos 5-7 show too high of a take-back and too high of a follow-though, which cause the ball to decelerate — and put an incorrect spin and speed on the ball.
In Photo 8, impact is too high on the ball; again, loss of distance and speed will not give the perfect simple stroke.
Photo 9 shows good impact — low, square and aggressive at the ball.
Photo 10 shows bad impact — too high on the ball, not enough push and lack of speed. Pulling up on the ball won’t get you to the hole.
THE AROUND THE WORLD DRILL
Of all the putting drills out there, this well-known, simple one always works.
Set out 5-10 golf balls within a three-foot circle, as in Photo 1.
Set up with the golf balls and tees, keeping yourself on the inside of the tee and moving clockwise when practicing (Photo 2).
Make one and advance on (Photo 3). Miss one and you have to start all over. This is not only great practice for that “heart thumping, I have to make this!” putt, but also shows you that no putt is ever the same. You are building confidence, which is a huge key factor in golf and especially in putting.
Remember, when doing this drill, remember to follow through towards target, as I’m doing in Photos 4 and 5. You need to show/direct the ball where to go.
Finally, practice, practice, practice!
Autumn Thomas is Clubhouse Golf Manager and a teaching professional at Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa in Palm Desert, California