PUTT Year Round… Lower Your Score when it Counts!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy Kathy Gildersleeve-Jensen, PGA

The biggest reason top tour players reach the world’s number one rankings is that they are the best on tour in putting.  Dedicating the practice time and having a routine is only part of it, however.  Understanding what to work on is equally as important.  This putting article will go into detail what should be worked on, including assessing directions, distances, impact and easy drills.

Tests have shown that your aim and clubface angle at impact are four times more important than the path of your stroke.  Let’s face it; if you don’t aim at the correct spot, you have almost no chance of making a putt.  First, determine your target, which isn’t necessarily the hole.  It simply pertains to the spot or area you want the ball to roll to.  Now that your target has been determined, you ONLY need to aim the golf ball and a square putter face at the target, not your feet and shoulders as many amateurs do.  Here is a simple self-test for alignment:  After you have set up and think you are aligned, place a golf pencil down in front of the golf ball pointing perpendicular of the square clubface or behind the putter head pointing exactly the way you think you are aligned.  Now, step away and look behind the pencil to see where you are actually aligned.  Adjust your aim accordingly and practice this routine until you are comfortable with aiming.  This drill can be done anywhere year round.

I believe focusing on impact can help in distance.  The main issue with impact is that the handle of the putter needs to be ahead of a square putter face at contact.  This means that there is a very slight forward press when the ball is struck and the clubface needs to be square.  The belly putters are a little different, but normally the traditional style must have this happen at impact.  This also creates a better loft (ideally 4 degrees) when the putter hits the ball.  This type of roll hugs the putting surface and produces less bouncing effect on the ball.  When this is done, it is easier to judge distances, regardless the length of the swing or type of swing arc.

Here is another practice tip that can be done anywhere, that will help keep the putter face square at impact.  All you need for this drill is either a “C” battery, a roll of coins taped with duct tape, or a sleeve of golf balls.  If you are using the battery or coins, try hitting them with the putter in an attempt to roll it straight.  If you are using the sleeve of golf balls, barely touch the box to check on the square-ness of the putter head, while attempting to observe if your hands are slightly ahead of the clubface at the time of impact.

Distances are also about speed.  A common mistake many amateurs make is to decelerate before they hit the ball.  Most great putters will have acceleration through impact.  Decelerating actually disrupts your timing, and will lead to many difficult second putts.  Controlling distance is a hard task, but practicing both long and short putts will help generate consistent results.

By applying a little effort into your practice and making observations you will improve the putting performance in a surprisingly short time.  This obviously will allow you to have more fun and less frustrations and maybe lower your score when it counts.

Kathy Gildersleeve-Jensen, PGA is the PNW PGA Section Golf “Teacher of the Year” 2012. She can be reached at kgjgolf@gmail.com or click HERE to learn more about KGJ golf.