30 July 2011

    Negotiating Slow Greens

    Sometimes – usually early during a round – it will dawn on you that the greens you are playing on are S-L-O-W, slow. Putts are coming up way short, even if you strike them firmly. You may then want to consider the “Five feet past” rule. Since your normal putting stroke has been leaving you five feet short all day, hit those long lag putts firm enough to go about five feet past. The drag on those slow, uncut greens will slow the ball down right around the hole.

    25 July 2011

    Know the course

    If you’re playing a course for the first time – or even if you've played it before, but never stopped to notice – stop to take a look at the topographical layout of the land. Find out where the high point and the low point of the course is located. Chances are practically all putts will want to break toward that low point on the course … even the ones that look straight or like they're going in the opposite direction. Additionally, most putts will break downhill from the high point of the golf course – even the ones with an optical illusion that makes them look like they're going the other way. For other areas within the course, pay attention to holes near lakes and sides of hills. Most contours will cause shots to break away from hills and toward lakes. When in doubt on a putt, hit it straight. But on a course where you know the high point-low point, when in doubt, trust gravity.

    20 July 2011

    Try the five-star plan

    Next time you're on a practice putting green, try this drill: Pick a hole that's got some slope and some break. Then get out five balls and place them all about three feet from the hole, as if they were the points of a star. This will give you every type of putt you'll encounter – left-to-right, right-to-left, uphill, downhill. Once you can make all five, move back to four feet and so on until you believe you can make everything.

    15 July 2011

    A walk in the park

    Ever watch the pro golfers on TV and how they walk? If so, you’ll notice they are fluid, balanced and in rhythm. Why? It's because they’re trying to go through the whole round in balance. They don't want a herky-jerky walk, which may cause a herky-jerky swing. Their swing pace begins with their walking pace. Nobody is laboring or trudging as they walk. A point could be made that each golfer is setting up their shot hundreds of yards down the fairway as they establish a graceful rhythm with a graceful walking pace, and maintain that pace right through their shots. Then they walk calmly to the next hole, and do it again. Smooth walking pace. Smooth shots. Something to think about.

    10 July 2011

    You can't miss

    If you strike a putt the proper speed – and it’s aimed at the center of the hole – it's going to go in. Period. It sounds simple, because it is. A firmly hit downhill 3-footer that might go 10 feet past the hole if missed, won’t. Why? Because it hit center cup. Putting is not that complicated. Determine the line and aim accordingly. Then hit the putt with the correct speed, and if it’s aimed properly, it'll go in. Do this often enough and you'll be a great putter.

    6 July 2011

    Best chipping day ever

    Have you ever broken down the best day you ever had driving the ball? Or putting it? Chipping it? Try it some time. Think about what factors were present those days to cause those to be the best chipping/putting/irons days you ever had. Identify them. You'll probably find similar thoughts were there during all of these ‘best’ days. You were relaxed that day. You tried to swing it with more rhythm that day. You concentrated on staying down and through your shots more that day. Once you realize what you need to think to hit your best shots, focus on thinking those thoughts during the next round you play. It’s not coincidence you had those good days, so find out what caused it and make it part of your routine. Every day could be your ‘best’ day.

    1 July 2011

    Gripping the putter

    Everyone has differing methods to grip the putter. But how hard should you be gripping it? Many teaching pros advise to grip it as softly, mildly and easily as is humanly possible, while still allowing you to be able to control it. Though you have to hold it firm enough to not be collapsing at impact, the softer you grip it throughout the stroke, the less likely you will put that extra push on the ball at impact and send it flying eight feet past every time. Be firm enough to accelerate through the ball at impact, but grip softly at the same time. Do this, and you’ll master that thing called ‘putting touch.’