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Missing short putts? Here’s why!

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Have you ever stood over a four-footer and known you were going to miss it? If so, then you are not alone, in fact, this is one of the most common things I hear from golfers of all levels. These short putts can be the end of the road for some players as it forces them to not play as much as they once did. However, in this article, I want to show you why you miss these and how you can help yourself at home.

Obviously, people focus on picking the correct line and even go so far as to mark and aim their ball in the direction of their chosen line, but it’s what happens during the stroke that will influence this result. In my opinion, the reason why people miss short putts is because of inconsistent rotational control of the putter head during the stroke.

Now I am not stating that you should have no rotation or that you should have a bunch, what I am saying is that the uniformity of the stroke back and through (from a rotational standpoint) is the key. Therefore if you have X amount of rotation on the way back, it would be nice to have X on the way back to impact. Losing control of this on the way back or on the way back into impact will make finding your “line” impossible. Basically, stated the more rotation you have on the way back influences the rotation you will need on the way through. Some players putt better with little rotation and others with more…it’s a personal choice!

For this article, I will be using Blast Motion’s Putting Sensor that measures many things about how the putter moves but most importantly for us is “how much” the putter head rotates open and closed during the stroke.

Blast fits directly over the end of your current putter so you can test multiple putters based on the ones you like and dislike. I really like this application since many different putters have different rotational influences based on their designs. And it’s the influence of the putter’s design that can help or hinder your progress within this fundamental.

Here are two screens showing the rotation of my putter with an exaggerated rotational stroke and one with my normal rotation. As you can see that the more excessive the rotation you have the harder it is to return the putter to impact consistently.

The next step is to hit multiple putts and audit the strokes to determine if the backswing or the forward swing is the culprit. And once we determine that we can go about fixing the problem once and for all.

The screen on the left shows the average backstroke rotation for me over the course of the putts I hit. While the screen on the right shows the same thing for forward swing rotation. What we can see from my particular stroke is that my backswing average is much higher than my forward swing so I am not returning the putter back to square very often and I am missing the putts to the right.

So I need to fix my backswing rotation and the forward swing will improve itself naturally. My favorite drill for working on my putter head’s rotation on the way back is to use a putting template. You can find them for straight back-and-straight through strokes or even ones on an arc. Pick the one that best suits your stroke.

Once I have selected the correct template it is now time to make practice strokes and watch how the putter blade opens on the way back. I want it to mirror the lines on the template so that my putter remains perpendicular to the line within reason. It’s here that I am exaggerating the feeling of keeping the stroke rotation on the backswing at bay so when I go back to putting normally it is “fixed” from excessively opening on the way back.

It’s my job to curtail (not eliminate) this rotation on the way back so I have the best chance to begin the ball on the correct line.

Try it for yourself and see if you hole more short putts!

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: tom.stickney@puntamita.com

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Putt Drainer

    Jun 7, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    Just buy a face balanced putter, and hang on for dear life!

  2. TaderSalad

    Jun 5, 2019 at 8:00 pm

    I pop stroke everything within 10 feet, unless downhill roll. Pull it back about an inch and blast it through the ball. Has helped me all but eliminate short misses. Strongly recommend.

  3. G

    Jun 5, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    What about the grain? That makes me miss more than my stroke lol

  4. David Lehmann

    Jun 5, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    SB and ST end of issue here!

  5. Randy

    Jun 5, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    Nah. It’s because I choke like a dog.

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Instruction

The 3 best ways to train your golf swing

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Understanding how to effectively train and practice is critical to transferring skills to the golf course.

In golf, I view training as a thoughtful, deliberate rehearsal of a motion to develop technique. This is better rehearsed away from the golf course. Practicing golf consists of developing your skill to take to the golf course—an example being learning to hit shots in certain winds and shot shaping.

“A lawyer will train to be a lawyer, then he or she will practice law” – The Lost Art of Golf

I find the below examples the best ways to train effectively. These techniques will also help facilitate a swing change and make your training and practice more efficient.

Mirror Work

I like my student to implement what I call “mirror work”. This is done by looking into a mirror from the face-on position.

This is a great way to get external feedback (information delivered from an outside source). Learning by external feedback will help facilitate the required body movement to produce a particular shot. It’s also a cheap and effective way to train. Research suggests observation in a mirror is considered external, so the use of mirrors will elicit external feedback, enhancing the learning process.

I prefer students to only check positions from the face-on view. If a player starts checking positions in a mirror from down-the-line, moving your head to look in the mirror can cause your body to change positions, losing the proper direction of turn.

Train Slow

Learning a new motion is best trained slow. At a slower speed, it is easier to monitor and analyze a new motion. You will have increased awareness of the body and where the shaft is in space. At a faster speed, this awareness is more difficult to obtain.

I often use the analogy of learning how to drive a car. First, you took time to learn how to position your hands on the wheel and position your foot next to the break. When comfortable, you put the car in motion and began to drive slowly. Once you developed the technique, you added speed and took the car on the freeway.

In martial arts, there are three speeds taught to students: Slow-speed for learning, medium speed for practice and fast speed for fighting. Again, the movement was trained slow to start. Once comfortable, the motion was put into combat. This should be similar to golf.

Finding Impact

Use an impact bag to get the feeling of impact and an efficient set-up. If you don’t have an impact bag, a spare car tire, bean bag or something light and soft that can be pushed along the ground can be used.

I like to refer to the impact bag as a “Push bag”. Start by setting up into the bag, lightly pressing the shaft into the bag. You will notice how your trail arm slightly tucks in and as your right shoulder drops below the left with your body leaning forward, an efficient set-up.

To get the feeling of impact swing the club back and down into the bag while maintaining your body shape. Don’t move the bag by hitting it, rather pushing it. Note how you maintain your wrist angles while pushing the bag (not flipping) and the right side of your body moves through impact.

Train your swing with these three training techniques to play better golf.

@KKelley_golf

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Instruction

How posture influences your swing

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S0 what exactly is posture and how can it alter your swing? Posture is often the origin to a player’s swing pattern. I like to look at posture as the form of the body from the front view and down the line position at address.

“Shape” in posture is the angles our body creates at address. This includes the relationship between the upper and lower half of our bodies. This article will examine the importance of this shape from the face on view.

For an efficient posture that creates a simple, powerful, and repeatable swing, I like a player’s shape to be set into what I call their “hitting angles.” Hitting angles are similar to the impact position. In the picture below, note the body angles at address highlighted in green.

Once we are set into these hitting angles, the goal of the backswing is to maintain these angles, coiling around the spine. When these angles are maintained in the backswing, the club can return to impact in a more dynamic form of our set-up position. This creates minimal effort that produces speed and repeatability—essentially doing more with less.

The further we set up away from these hitting angles, our bodies will have to find impact by recovering. This is often where a player’s swing faults can occur. We want our body to react to the target in the golf swing, not recover to strike the ball.

Think of a baseball player or football player throwing a ball. When the athlete is in their throwing position, they can simply make the movement required to throw the ball at their intended target. If their body is contorted or out of position to make the throw, they must re-position their body (more movement) to get back into their throwing position, thus making them less accurate and powerful.

The good news about working on your posture is that it is the easiest part to control in the swing. Posture is a static motion, so our body will respond to 100 percent of what our mind tells it to do. It’s talentless.

Here is a simple routine to get you into these hitting angles.

To start, tuck in your trail arm making it shorter and below the lead arm, which makes your trail shoulder lower than the lead shoulder. This will give you the proper shape of the arms and wrist angles. Pictured right is Ben Hogan.

With these arm angles, bend from the hips to the ball and bump your body slightly forward towards the target getting ‘into yourself’. You may feel pressure on your lead foot, but your upper half will still remain behind the ball. Note the picture below with the blue lines.

Practice this drill using a mirror in front of you, head up looking into the mirror. Research has shown mirror work enhances motor skills and performance. Anytime you have external-focus based feedback, the learning process will escalate.

There are a lot of different postures on the PGA Tour and many ways to get the job done. There are no cookie-cutter swings, and players have different physiology. However, research and history have shown that an efficient posture gives us the best chance for solid contact and our desired ball flight. Work hard on the areas that are easiest to control: the set-up.

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Instruction

Golf 101: How to chip (AKA “bump and run”)

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Although golf for a beginner can be an intimidating endeavor, and learning how to chip is part of that intimidation, this is one part of the game that if you can nail down the fundamentals, not only can you add some confidence to your experience but also you lay down a basic foundation you can build on.

How to chip

The chip shot, for all intents and purposes, is a mini-golf swing. To the beginner, it may seem like a nothing burger but if you look closely, it’s your first real way to understand contact, launch, spin, compression, and most importantly the fundamentals of impact.

What is a chip shot? A pitch shot?

Chip: A shot that is hit typically with anything from a 3-iron to a lob wedge that launches low, gets on the ground quickly, and rolls along the surface (like a putt) to the desired location.

Pitch: A shot that is hit typically with anything from a PW to a lob wedge that launches low- to mid-trajectory that carries a good portion of the way to your desired location and relies on spin to regulate distance.

Now that we have separated the two, the question is: How do I chip?

Since we are trying to keep this as simple as possible, let’s just do this as a quick checklist and leave it at that. Dealing with different lies, grass types, etc? Not the purpose here. We’re just concerned with how to make the motion and chip a ball on your carpet or at the golf course.

Think “rock the triangle”

  1. Pick a spot you want the ball to land. This is for visualization, direction and like any game you play, billiards, Darts, pin the tail on the donkey, having a target is helpful
  2. For today, use an 8-iron. It’s got just enough loft and bounce to make this endeavor fun.
  3. Grip the club in your palms and into the lifelines of your hands. This will lift the heel of the club of the ground for better contact and will take your wrists out of the shot.
  4. Open your stance
  5. Put most of your weight into your lead leg. 80/20 is a good ratio
  6. Ball is positioned off your right heel
  7. Lean the shaft handle to your left thigh
  8. Rock the shoulders like a putt
  9. ENJOY!

Check out this vid from @jakehuttgolf to give you some visuals.

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