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Game of the Week: Squeeze Play

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In all sports, coaches preach the importance of minimizing errors to their players. In golf, some of these errors include removing penalizing drives, missing greens from inside 100 yards and reducing the number of 3-putts. The error I hope to help you minimize in this article is your number of 3-putts. A tour player averages one 3-putt every other round. How many 3-putts do you average per round?

The first place to look to help reduce the number of 3-putts is your ability to control the distance the golf ball travels on the green, because managing the speed of your putts is imperative. While there are several things to look for technically — tempo, consistency of ball contact on the face, acceleration factors and more — I like to start with a drill or game, see how a golfer does, and then evaluate what needs to be done from there.

Here is one of those games, which I call Squeeze Play.

Game: Squeeze Play

  • Gear needed: Putter, thread/thin string/ribbon, 10+ golf balls.
  • Time needed: 15+ minutes (depending on your dedication).

Rules: Set up two pieces of thread, thin string or even ribbon on the green 15 feet apart. From 15 feet away from the closest ribbon, roll your first putt as close to the far ribbon as possible without going past it. Then hit your second putt as close to your first putt without going past that ball. The key is that each putt must roll shorter than the previous putt, or you have to start over. Abiding by that rule, try to get as many golf balls between the ribbons as possible. A great number is 10 golf balls. Once you do that, move back about 10 feet and do the drill again.

For more games visit our interactive practice website www.golfscrimmages.com or book Golf Scrimmages.

 Benefits: Here’s what this game helps you with.

  • You can’t play good golf without being proficient at getting your long putts close, and that comes from having a good feel for the speed of the greens.
  • Practicing your distance control is like brushing your teeth; it’s something you must do all the time.
  • You might find yourself getting frustrated at times, so back away, take a breath and go through your routine knowing that this type of challenging practice will make you a stronger player on the actual golf course!

Practice well to play well, GolfWRXers.

Previous Games of the Week

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Trent Wearner is the No. 1-rated teacher in Colorado by Golf Digest Magazine, as well as a two-time Colorado PGA Teacher of the Year (2004, 2014). Along the way, he has been recognized as a Top 20 Teacher Under Age 40 by Golf Digest, a Top 50 Kids Teacher in America by U.S. Kids Golf and a Top Teacher in the Southwestern U.S. by GOLF Magazine. Trent is also the author of the book Golf Scrimmages and creator of the website GolfScrimmages.com

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Douglas Kim

    Aug 15, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Nice things. You can do this drill with just one ball and a few minute and at home with PUTTOST. Lol.

    • Douglas Kim

      Aug 15, 2016 at 7:07 pm

      Nice things. You can do this drill with just one ball and a few minute and at home with PUTTIST. Lol.

  2. Jim H

    Aug 15, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Agree. Targeting 12 inches past the hole for amateurs will result in more putts made. One of the biggest detriments to successful putting is not rolling the ball all the way to the cup.

  3. Jason

    Aug 13, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    I like it but feel it ingrains in you that coming up 1″ short of your target is great. This is fine until you are trying to hole putts.

    I think finding a way to make it the opposite would provide more benefit. Where each putt has to go farther than the prior one.

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Instruction

Clement: Laid-off or perfect fade? Across-the-line or perfect draw?

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Some call the image on the left laid off, but if you are hitting a fade, this could be a perfect backswing for it! Same for across the line for a draw! Stop racking your brain with perceived mistakes and simply match backswing to shot shape!

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The Wedge Guy: The easiest-to-learn golf basic

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My golf learning began with this simple fact – if you don’t have a fundamentally sound hold on the golf club, it is practically impossible for your body to execute a fundamentally sound golf swing. I’m still a big believer that the golf swing is much easier to execute if you begin with the proper hold on the club.

As you might imagine, I come into contact with hundreds of golfers of all skill levels. And it is very rare to see a good player with a bad hold on the golf club. There are some exceptions, for sure, but they are very few and very far between, and they typically have beat so many balls with their poor grip that they’ve found a way to work around it.

The reality of biophysics is that the body moves only in certain ways – and the particulars of the way you hold the golf club can totally prevent a sound swing motion that allows the club to release properly through the impact zone. The wonderful thing is that anyone can learn how to put a fundamentally sound hold on the golf club, and you can practice it anywhere your hands are not otherwise engaged, like watching TV or just sitting and relaxing.

Whether you prefer an overlap, interlock or full-finger (not baseball!) grip on the club, the same fundamentals apply.  Here are the major grip faults I see most often, in the order of the frequency:

Mis-aligned hands

By this I mean that the palms of the two hands are not parallel to each other. Too many golfers have a weak left hand and strong right, or vice versa. The easiest way to learn how to hold the club with your palms aligned properly is to grip a plain wooden ruler or yardstick. It forces the hands to align properly and shows you how that feels. If you grip and re-grip a yardstick several times, then grip a club, you’ll see that the learning curve is almost immediate.

The position of the grip in the upper/left hand

I also observe many golfers who have the butt of the grip too far into the heel pad of the upper hand (the left hand for right-handed players). It’s amazing how much easier it is to release the club through the ball if even 1/4-1/2″ of the butt is beyond the left heel pad. Try this yourself to see what I mean.  Swing the club freely with just your left hand and notice the difference in its release from when you hold it at the end of the grip, versus gripping down even a half inch.

To help you really understand how this works, go to the range and hit shots with your five-iron gripped down a full inch to make the club the same length as your seven-iron. You will probably see an amazing shot shape difference, and likely not see as much distance loss as you would expect.

Too much lower (right) hand on the club

It seems like almost all golfers of 8-10 handicap or higher have the club too far into the palm of the lower hand, because that feels “good” if you are trying to control the path of the clubhead to the ball. But the golf swing is not an effort to hit at the ball – it is a swing of the club. The proper hold on the club has the grip underneath the pad at the base of the fingers. This will likely feel “weak” to you — like you cannot control the club like that. EXACTLY. You should not be trying to control the club with your lower/master hand.

Gripping too tightly

Nearly all golfers hold the club too tightly, which tenses up the forearms and prevents a proper release of the club through impact. In order for the club to move back and through properly, you must feel that the club is controlled by the last three fingers of the upper hand, and the middle two fingers of the lower hand. If you engage your thumbs and forefingers in “holding” the club, the result will almost always be a grip that is too tight. Try this for yourself. Hold the club in your upper hand only, and squeeze firmly with just the last three fingers, with the forefinger and thumb off the club entirely. You have good control, but your forearms are not tense. Then begin to squeeze down with your thumb and forefinger and observe the tensing of the entire forearm. This is the way we are made, so the key to preventing tenseness in the arms is to hold the club very lightly with the “pinchers” — the thumbs and forefingers.

So, those are what I believe are the four fundamentals of a good grip. Anyone can learn them in their home or office very quickly. There is no easier way to improve your ball striking consistency and add distance than giving more attention to the way you hold the golf club.

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Instruction

Clement: Stop ripping off your swing with this drill!

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Not the dreaded headcover under the armpit drill! As if your body is defective and can’t function by itself! Have you seen how incredible the human machine is with all the incredible feats of agility all kinds of athletes are accomplishing? You think your body is so defective (the good Lord is laughing his head off at you) that it needs a headcover tucked under the armpit so you can swing like T-Rex?

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