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By Doug Hammer, Golf Contributor - Archive - Email
5 Steps to a better short game - #1 Putting
Steps to a better short game - #1 putting
Boulders, AZ (Sports Network) -- If you are like many golfers, you may not have had to make a four-foot putt or less lately as your playing partners may tell you to "pick it up" or simply kick the ball back to you once you are in that range. This is great if it is happening, and if your opponent concedes it, take it and run!

However, don't get too comfortable. What happens the next time that putt really matters? If you are like a majority of amateurs that I know, you miss them. Even the best players in the world miss them from time to time.

So the first step toward a world class short game is working on making ALL of your short putts. Regardless of if your buddies have told you to pick it up. Make yourself putt them, and count it regardless of the result. You will learn to make them more often if you simply make yourself putt them.

The second step it to work on your technique. The first part of this step is to understand what speed you want to hit the putt. Ideally, you want to hit the putt firm enough so that if it doesn't go in, it would roll approximately one foot past the hole. All too often I see players try to ease the putt just over the edge and all too often I see the subtle breaks and imperfections on the green cost these players and easy make. Don't give your short putts a chance to break, be firm and be decisive with you stroke.

Part two of this step is to make sure you are starting the ball on your intended line. If you are hitting the ball firmly, you should always be aiming inside the hole from four feet or less. It is now important you start the ball on the line you are visualizing. It is important to minimize your hand motion in order to do this consistently. Generally a slight flinch in the hands is all it takes to start the ball offline and result in a missed short putt. Any combination of these 3 things can help eliminate any unwanted hand motion:

  • 1. Open the hands up on the grip so that you are holding the putter in the palms with only your thumbs on the flat top of the grip

  • 2. Go Oversize! Big grips and counter-weighting are all the rage now on tour, if the best are doing it, so should you!

  • 3. Lead hand low (left hand low for all right-handed players). Going crosshanded with your grip has always been a staple to getting the hands out of impact and keeping the putter face square to the target. Not a bad idea for all your short putts.

    Once you have decided what your technique will be, you need to practice! I don't know of any good putter who was "born" with it. All the world class putters I have been around work on it constantly. That is why they are so good! The next time you have some free time on the putting green, try this drill. All you will need is a couple of golf balls, four tees, and some patience.

    Doug Hammer * Director of Instruction * Troon North Golf Club
    p 480-585-5300 ext. 251 * f 480-585-5161
    10320 E Dynamite Blvd. * Scottsdale, AZ 85262 Managed by Troon Golf
    www.troongolf.com

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