Improve your Putting and Keep Strokes in Your Bag
'A shot that goes in the cup is pure luck, but a shot to within two feet of the flag is skill.'
- Ben Hogan
If you’re just learning or taking up the game of golf, here’s the one tip that will lower your scores faster than any other tip on golf – putting. That’s right. No it isn’t the sexy thing to do around the practice tee. It’s doesn’t draw a crowd around you like bombing a 300 yard drive does, but it is where you can immediately shave strokes off your golf game.
For this article, we’re not going to discuss the actual mechanics of this vital part of the game, rather let’s discuss why it probably deserves more focus that you give it and what you should do.
O.K. think about this (especially for you beginning golfers). I would venture a guess that given any round of golf, you probably had at least one more shot than necessary on each green simply because you don’t seriously practice this part of your game that’s 18 strokes right there!
Now you’re probably thinking I don’t loose a stroke on every green. I would argue that if you are a high handicapper that you do. Those three and four shot greens... and let’s be honest; you are probably pretty generous with those gimme distances aren’t you?
This alone should begin to give you the incentive to improve this aspect of your game. The stroke isn’t fraught with mechanics that you have to learn like you do with a full golf swing. You only need one club to practice this part of your golf game. And with just a little consistent practice time on this aspect you can immediately start taking strokes off your game in bunches.
Here are a couple of tips and a mind set to work on.
First when you are practicing work on two areas: your line and your distance control.
Line: start close to the hole and roll a ball in. When you make three putts in a row, back up about two feet and repeat. Do this out to a range of 8 feet. Initially keep track of how many it takes you to work
your way back to and complete the eight foot mark.
Then, your next step with the four distances of 2, 4, 6, and 8 feet, is to give yourself 16 shots to complete your drill (this allows for one miss at each distance). As you improve, drop your allowable strokes to 15, then 14, and so on, until you reach perfection.
Distance control: Depending upon your skill level, begin from about 20 feet and repeat the same drill as above moving back 10 feet at a time, only this time you are allowed two shots to hole the ball from each distance.
This drill ties into and complements the line drill very well. This will teach you distance control so you can confidently putt the ball within a distance from the hole that you know you already have a high percentage of chance of making because of the first drill you work on.
Here’s a mind set that you should always take to your actual round of golf. This is one that I use.
No matter how bad (or good) it is off the tee. No matter how long it takes you to get out of trouble. No matter what happens. Whether you get to the green in par or twice par; here is your mind set. I am not going to three putt. I am going to re-focus, remember my drills, and have confidence in what I have practiced. And I am not going to take three shots on any greens today.
And finally, don’t short change your game. Putt everything out. I mean this. If you are serious about getting and staying better, putt everything out.
No gimmes. Keep your game sharp. Don’t let it slowly deteriorate because your buddies let you pick everything up inside 3ft (or even more generous than that). If you do, you soon start giving strokes away when they count.
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