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Want better speed control on the greens? Download a metronome app

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Understanding rhythm and tempo is crucial to being a great putter. Tempo is the pace we do things, and rhythm is the sequence of those events. In putting, rhythm is the attribute of the distance of the stroke back and through, while tempo is the time it takes to complete the stroke.

When rhythm is off, weaknesses in speed control are exposed, especially under pressure. And when a player is struggling with their distance control, the length and speed of the stroke can be the first tell.

So how do we factor this into our putting? Golfers should strive to use the same tempo and timing for ALL length putts. In other words, the time it takes for you to swing the putter head back and make contact with the ball will be the same on a 5-foot putt as it is on a 20-foot putt. The only thing that varies is the length of the backstroke and forward stroke.

There’s no one correct tempo for a putting stroke, either, not even on the PGA Tour. So you need to figure what tempo suits you the best. The best way to do that? Read on.

Use a metronome to improve you putting tempo

Using a metronome is the best way to practice proper tempo for putting. You can use it to practice matching different length putting strokes to the sound of the metronome beat. The beat of the metronome will stay consistent, but the length of the stroke will differ due to the length of the putt.

Don’t have a metronome? That’s ok. You can download a metronome app for your smart phone, which works just as well. Most are free, too.

Above is a video demonstration of starting the stroke on the first beep and making contact on the second beep. Make sure the volume is on so you can hear the sound of the metronome throughout the stroke. I made the video while using a Visio putting arc, which is another great tool to help make sure the length of your stroke is even.

Once you have practiced using a metronome, you can carry that tempo and rhythm to the course. Once you find a tempo that suits you best, a simple mental count of “one-two” while putting will serve as your internal metronome.

At-home drill using a metronome

I sometimes ask my students to work on their putting stroke away from the course, because it helps keep them from thinking too mechanically. When we’re playing a round of golf, putting should be more instinctive and the focus should be external and on things like speed and line — not positions or mechanics.

Below is a great drill you can do at home that incorporates the use of a metronome or your mental “one-two” count. It will give you instant and important feedback.at home drill

Place a book on the floor, turn your metronome on and set your putter head against the side of the book. You will take the putter head back on the first beep, and softly strike the back of the book on the second beep. Imagine rolling different length putts: a 5-footer, a 10-footer, a 20-footer and so on. Make sure your putter head strikes the side of the book on the second metronome beat no matter how long the putt.

What you want is the length of your stroke to change, but your tempo to remain consistent. I use a metronome beat count of “65” while doing the drill, but you may differ.

Enjoy this drill, and let me know if you have further questions in the comments section below. I’ll do my best to answer as many questions as I can. 

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Kelvin is a Class A PGA golf professional in San Francisco, California. He teaches and has taught at some of the top golf clubs in the Bay Area, including the Olympic Club and Sonoma Golf Club. He is TPI certified, and a certified Callaway and Titleist club fitter. Kelvin has sought advice and learned under several of the top instructors in the game, including Alex Murray and Scott Hamilton. To schedule a lesson, please call 818.359.0352 Online lessons also available at www.kelleygolf.com

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Radim Pavlicek

    Nov 30, 2016 at 7:31 am

    Extremely confusing. I think you mean 2 clicks back and one forward. Not 1 back and 1 forward as stated in the article.

    • Kelvin Kelley

      Nov 30, 2016 at 10:57 am

      You can do either…two clicks is just to keep it simple. Take the putter head back on the first click, make contact on the second click. If wanted a click on a different part of your stroke, would have to change metronome beat.

  2. Jake V

    Nov 29, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    In my opinion, one of the best ways to improve distance control in putting is to buy an Odyssey putter. 🙂

  3. Joe Brennan

    Nov 29, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Another great tip… Thanks..

  4. Azman Long Hamid

    Nov 27, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Why 65 ???

    • Kelvin Kelley

      Nov 27, 2016 at 10:13 pm

      Azman,

      Great question. Typically the rhythm of the stroke is twice as long back as the downswing to impact so a 2.1 ratio. So that’s 2/3 of the time back and 1/3 of the time down. This number has been calculated based on Tour averages.

      • Azman Long Hamid

        Nov 28, 2016 at 2:06 am

        Ok, that’s make sense. Thanks.

      • TeeBone

        Nov 28, 2016 at 1:59 pm

        For a 2:1 rhythm, you’d need to make impact on the third click. It would be 2 clicks back, 1 click forward.

        • Kelvin Kelley

          Nov 28, 2016 at 2:07 pm

          Yes, you can change the metronome beat to match this ratio as well.

          • TeeBone

            Nov 29, 2016 at 1:39 am

            There is equal time between beats/clicks with a metronome. A 2:1 ratio for backswing:forward swing will always be 2 beats back and one beat forward to impact. The only thing you can adjust is the tempo. If a specific app makes the 3rd or 4th beat sound different, then its more than just a metronome.

  5. WillyNilly

    Nov 27, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    You do reason you wrote that you want your students to do a mechanical “metronome” drill to get away from becoming too mechanical on the course. Even in music study the metronome is considered a mechanical step required to improve timing, however, it doesn’t mean it will translate to feel, and feel is what sinks putts and creates moving music. I have tried the 1-2 count in the past, but prefer to feel it with physical triggers versus actual counting. That being said, timing is important and I’ll record myself putting and analyze the video afterwards to see how my timing is and how it relates to my distance control. Thanks for the article – always open to a different way of looking at a problem.

    • WillyNilly

      Nov 27, 2016 at 1:41 pm

      where “reason” = “realize” :o)

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Instruction

Walters: Avoid these 3 big chipping mistakes!

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Chipping causes nightmares for so many amateur golfers. This s mainly due to three core mistakes. In this video, I talk about what those mistakes are, and, more importantly, how to avoid them.

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The Wedge Guy: The importance of a pre-shot routine

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I believe one of the big differences between better recreational golfers and those not so good—and also between the tour professionals and those that can’t quite “get there”—is the consistency of their pre-shot routines. It is really easy to dismiss something that happens before the ball is even struck as irrelevant, but I strongly urge you to reconsider if you think this way.

To have a set routine to follow religiously before every shot gives you the best chance to execute the shot the way you intend. To do otherwise just leaves too much to chance. Indulge me here and I’ll offer you some proof.

It’s been a while back now, but I still remember an interesting account on this subject that used the final round of the 1996 Masters—when Nick Faldo passed a collapsing Norman—as his statistical proof. This particular analyst reviewed the entire telecast of that final round and timed the routine of both players for every shot. What he discovered was that Norman got quicker and less consistent in his pre-shot routine throughout his round, while Faldo maintained his same, methodical approach to every shot, not varying by more than a second or so. I think that is pretty insightful stuff.

A lot of time has passed since then, but all competitive tour professionals pay very close attention to their pre-shot routines these days. I urge you to watch them as they go through the motions before each shot. And notice that most of them “start over” if they get distracted during that process.

While I do not think it is practical for recreational golfers to go into such laborious detail for every shot, let me offer some suggestions as to how a repeatable pre-shot routine should work.

The first thing is to get a good feel for the shot, and by that, I mean a very clear picture in your mind of how it will fly, land and roll; I also think it’s realistic to have a different routine for full shots, chips and pitches and putts. They are all very different challenges, of course, and as you get closer to the hole, your focus needs to be more on the feel of the shot than the mechanics of the swing, in my opinion.

To begin, I think the best starting point is from behind the ball, setting up in your “mind’s eye” the film-clip of the shot you are about to hit. See the flight and path it will take. As you do this, you might waggle the club back and forth to get a feel of the club in your hands and “feel” the swing that will produce that shot path for you. Your exact routine can start when you see that shot clearly, and begin your approach the ball to execute the shot. From that “trigger point”, you should do the exact same things, at the exact same pace, each and every time.

For me (if I’m “on”), I’ll step from that behind-the-shot position, and set the club behind the ball to get my alignment. Then I step into my stance and ball position, not looking at the target, but being precise not to change the alignment of the clubhead–I’m setting my body up to that established reference. Once set, I take a look at the target to ensure that I feel aligned properly, and take my grip on the club. Then I do a mental check of grip pressure, hover the club off the ground a bit to ensure it stays light, and then start my backswing, with my only swing thought being to feel the end of the backswing.

That’s when I’m “on,” of course. But as a recreational player, I know that the vast majority of my worst shots and rounds happen when I depart from that routine.

This is something that you can and should work on at the range. Don’t just practice your swing, but how you approach each shot. Heck, you can even do that at home in your backyard. So, guys and ladies, there’s my $0.02 on the pre-shot routine. What do you have to add?

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6 reasons why golfers struggle with back pain: Part 1

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This article is co-written with Marnus Marais. Since 2011, Marnus has worked with some of the world’s best players on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, helping them to maintain optimal health and peak physical performance. His current stable of players includes Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, and Louis Oosthuizen, amongst others.

You find more information on Marnus and his work at marnusmarais.com

 

Back pain is by far the most common complaint among regular golfers. It is estimated that up to 35 percent of amateur golfers endure lower back injuries. And in our experience working with tour players, the prevalence is even higher in the professional ranks! 

Back pain can affect our ball striking and short game, diminish our enjoyment of the game, or even stop us playing altogether. It can make us feel anxious about playing (and making the pain worse) and just generally disappointed with current performance falling way short of our expectations. 

There is certainly no shortage of information on the topic of back pain, and with myriad back pain products and supplement options available, confusion about the best path to pain-free golf is one of the main reasons we don’t actually do anything effective to alleviate our suffering! 

We aim to present in this article an easy-to-digest explanation of the common causes of back pain, alongside some simple and practical ways to address the underlying issues. 

The recommendations we make in this article are generic in nature but effective in many of the low back pain cases we have worked with. However, pain can be complex and very specific to the individual. You should seek the personalized advice of a medical or exercise professional before undertaking any form of remedial exercise.

Reason 1 – Lack of mobility in 2 key areas

Certain areas in the body need to be more stable, and others need to be more mobile. The lumbar spine falls into the stable category, partly due to its limited capacity for rotation and lateral flexion (side bending). We know the unnatural golf swing movement imparts both rotational and side bending forces on the spine, so it’s an area we need to keep stable and protected. 

In order to avoid excessive low back rotation in life and especially in the golf swing, it’s very important that we try to maximize the range of movement in other areas, most notably the joints above and below the low back, where the majority of rotation in the golf swing should take place:

Area 1 – Hips

We need sufficient range of movement to turn into, and out of, both hips. For example, if we can’t turn and load into our lead hip due to a lack of internal rotation mobility, we tend to compensate with excessive rotation and side-bending in the lower back.

Suggested Exercises – Hip Mobility

Foam roll glutes, you can also use a spiky ball

90 90 hip mobility drills, fantastic for taking the hips through that all important internal rotation range

90 90 Glute Stretch – great for tight glutes / hips

Area 2 – Thoracic Spine (mid to upper back)

Having sufficient rotation in our thoracic spine to both left and the right is extremely important. The thoracic spine has significantly greater rotational capabilities compared to the lumbar spine (low back). If we maximise our mobility here, we can help protect the lower back, along with the cervical spine (neck).

Suggested Exercises – Thoracic Mobility

Foam rolling mid / upper back

 

Cat / Camel – working the T-Spine through flexion and extension

 

Reach backs – working that all important T-Spine rotation

Reason 2 – Alignment and Muscle Imbalances

Imagine a car with wheel alignment issues; front wheels facing to the right and back wheels facing to the left. Not only will the tires wear out unevenly and quickly, but other areas of the car will experience more torque, load or strain and would have to work harder. The same thing happens to the lower back when we have body alignment issues above and/or below.

For example, if we have short/tight/overactive hip flexors (muscles at the front of the hips that bend our knee to our chest) on one side of the body; very common amongst golfers with low back pain. This would rotate the pelvis forward on one side, which can create a knock-on effect of imbalance throughout the body.

If the pelvis rotates in one direction, the shoulders naturally have to rotate in the opposite direction in order to maintain balance. Our low back is subsequently caught in the middle, and placed under more load, stress and strain. This imbalance can cause the low back to bend and rotate further, and more unevenly, especially in the already complex rotation and side bending context of the golf swing!

Below is a pelvic alignment technique that can help those with the afore mentioned imbalance

Reason 3 – Posture

Posture can be described as the proper alignment of the spine, with the aim of establishing three natural curves (low back, mid/upper back and neck).

 

The 3 major spinal curves – 1-Cervical, 2 – Thoracic, 3 – Lumbar

Modern lifestyles and the associated muscle imbalances have pushed and pulled our spines away from those three natural curves, and this had a damaging effect on our spinal health. Our backs are designed to function optimally from the neutral illustrated above, and the further we get away from it, the more stress we put on our protective spinal structures. 

Aside from promotion of pain, poor posture also does terrible things for our golf swings; reducing range of motion in key areas (hips, mid back and shoulders) and creating inefficiencies in our swing action, to give us a double whammy of back pain causes.

Fortunately, re-establishing good posture is really simple and you can combine the information and exercises featured in the videos below with the mobility exercises featured in the Reason 1 section above. The equipment used in the videos is the GravityFit TPro – a favorite of ours for teaching and training posture with both elite and recreational players.

 

In the next installment of this article, we will cover reasons 4, 5 and 6 why golfers suffer from back pain – 4) Warming Up (or lack thereof!), 5) Core Strength and 6) Swing Faults.

 

If you would like to see how either Nick or Marnus can help with your golfing back pain, then check out the resources below:

Marnus Marais – marnusmarais.com

Nick Randall – golffitpro.net

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