Putting: Distance & Direction

Published on 17 November 2010 by in Putting

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Two fundamentals to strive for in Putting: Distance and Direction. Of the two, distance is by far more important in determining the capacity to putt with any sort of consistency. Take note at most amateurs, you might notice that when they practice their putting, they practice more on their direction. They spend an inconsistent amount of their practice time on putts of less then ten or fifteen feet. I believe that when the golfer can feel their longer distances it’s easier to manage the short-range putts.

You need to have the feeling of consistent rhythm and pace of the stroke to control your distance. You also need this feeling of rhythm on the short putts; another benefit of practicing longer putts is that you will start to feel a rhythm and tempo in your stroke.

Address Position of The Putt:

Grip – thumbs straight down the shaft, very light grip pressure, hollow with the palms and general preference to the reverse overlap grip
Stance and Width – this will vary with individual preference but square to slightly open is acceptable with the width usually five to ten inches and wider on windy days
Ball position – one inch forward of center
Bottom of the stroke arc – one inch behind the ball, with the putter impacting the ball on a slight upswing
Butt end of the club – straight up and down with club head, not a big forward press
Contact point of clubface at impact – bottom half of the clubface

There are several common mistakes in putting, beginning with the attempt to control and influence the clubface to direct the ball toward the hole. Just like the full swing, your hands should be reacting to the direction of the larger muscles. Your shoulders and arms are the primary engine of the stroke, with your hands staying very quiet, passive and inactive.

Another frequent error is the attempt to hit the ball on a specific line which leads you to start watching the roll of the ball toward the target too soon, thereby moving you head forward as you stroke through. Listen for the sound of the ball dropping in the cup before you look up on the short putts.

Another familiar mistake is the attempt to make the stroke straight back and straight through. Because you stand to the side of the ball the arc is on an incline. As clubs get shorter, the arc goes more vertical. As club shaft gets longer, the plane of the arc is more horizontal. The ball is played away from your body; therefore the arc will never be vertical. The only way the club could swing straight back and through would be if the stroke were traveling on a vertical plane. Therefore, your stroke should be slightly to the inside of the target line on both back swing and through swing. Letting the club swing on its natural arc will reduce the tendency to influence the clubface with the hands. As you stroke on your arc, the clubface will appear to be opening and closing, however remember the clubface is merely staying square with the arc.

A worthwhile goal for your putting stroke is keeping your head and lower body (from the hips down) to remain motionless while your shoulders and arms execute the crucial movement. If you don’t, your stroke will lead to inconsistency. If you focus on feeling the correct distance, your tendency will not be to move your head, but to stroke the putt with the correct pace and rhythm for the appropriate distance.

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The Over-Swing

Published on 11 October 2010 by in Blog, Featured, Swing Tips

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Did you know that you can’t make a change in your swing until you know what it feels like. As an instructor I can either show you on swing analysis software, verbally explain it or get you to feel it. I think the latter is by far the most advantageous for the student of golf.

Let’s talk about over-swinging. I have seen a lot of golfers take a swing and a half when they’re swinging the golf club. Maybe trying to get more distance or it just really feels normal. The over-swing can cause a series of complications that can render the swing powerless and encourage a loss of direction.

Here is a simple drill to help you get the feel of not over-swinging:

Put a swimming noodle or some plumbers foam in your right arm pit at address. Take your backswing until your left arm comes to a stop up against the swimming noodle. That’s approximately where your back swing should stop. Yes I know, it feels like a half-swing. But if you rotated your shoulders as far as you can without compromising your lower body, i.e. (straightening or bowing your right knee) that position is as far back as the club should go.

It’s amazing how you get a half-swing feel with a full-swing ball flight. Don’t believe me, schedule your next lesson and we’ll get you to feel it and see the proof.

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Weight Distribution and Balance

Published on 28 May 2010 by in Blog, Swing Tips

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During your power shot or for a full swing your stance should be wide enough to create stability but narrow enough to generate a weight transfer. I don’t recommend a stance that’s wider than shoulder width, however the longer the club the wider the stance. As the clubs get shorter, your stance should get progressively narrower. Don’t narrow your stance anymore than inside shoulder width for your short irons. If your stance gets too narrow, it can lead to off balance shots or excessive body motion because your foundation of support is no longer stable.  

I would recommend fanning your lead foot towards the target slightly, while keeping your trailing foot perpendicular to the target line. With your trailing foot square to your target, you are reducing hip turn. A limited hip turn joined with a full shoulder turn, can create coil and torque that leads to more power. By turning out your front foot, you will be helping to create a fuller finish, as it makes it easier for your hips to clear through impact.

For weight distribution, your weight should be distributed 50/50 between your feet for almost every type of shot. For a short iron you might put 5% more weight on your lead foot while swinging a longer club about 5% more on your trailing foot. If you’re a beginner it will be very difficult to distinguish that small amount of weight so just keep it 50/50 until you get more efficient at your ball striking. You may want to experiment with your stance during practice to see what kind of results you get from the different weight distributions.

Finally, your body weight should be distributed evenly between the toes and heels on the fat part of your foot. Meaning from the ball of your foot to the arch. If you start with too much weight on the heels chances are your going to shift to the toes during your swing to stay balanced.  This means you can very well have some off centered hits towards the heel of the club because you compensated the weight to stay balanced. The same goes if you start with to much weight on the toes, you’ll compensate during the swing to get the weight on the heels leading to strikes off the toe of your club.

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