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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: [email protected]

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

Walters: Try this practice hack for better bunker shots

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Your ability to hit better bunker shots is dramatically reduced if you have no facility to practice these shots. With so few facilities (especially in the UK) having a practice bunker it’s no wonder I see so many golfers struggle with this skill.

Yet the biggest issue they all seem to have is the inability to get the club to enter the sand (hit the ground) in a consistent spot. So here is a hack to use at the range to improve your bunker shots.

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Golf Blueprint: A plan for productive practice sessions

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Practice range at the Dormie Club. Photo credit: Scott Arden

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

You’ve gotten lessons.  Several of them.  You’ve been custom fitted for everything in your bag.  You even bought another half a dozen driver shafts last year looking for an extra couple of yards.  And yet, you’re still…stuck.  Either your handicap hasn’t moved at all in years or you keep bouncing back and forth between the same two numbers.  You’ve had all the swing fixes and all the technological advances you could realistically hope to achieve, yet no appreciable result has been achieved in lowering your score.  What gives?

Sample Golf Blueprint practice plan for a client.

One could argue that no one scientifically disassembled and then systematically reassembled the game of golf quite like the great Ben Hogan.  His penchant for doing so created a mystique which is still the stuff of legend even today.  A great many people have tried to decipher his secret over the years and the inevitable conclusion is always a somewhat anticlimactic, “The secret’s in the dirt.”  Mr. Hogan’s ball striking prowess was carved one divot at a time from countless hours on the practice range.  In an interview with golf journalist George Peper in 1987, Mr. Hogan once said:

“You hear stories about me beating my brains out practicing, but the truth is, I was enjoying myself. I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning so I could hit balls. I’d be at the practice tee at the crack of dawn, hit balls for a few hours, then take a break and get right back to it. And I still thoroughly enjoy it. When I’m hitting the ball where I want, hard and crisply—when anyone is— it’s a joy that very few people experience.”

Let me guess.  You’ve tried that before, right?  You’ve hit buckets and buckets of range rocks trying to groove the perfect 7-iron swing and still to no avail, right?  Read that last sentence again closely and you might discover the problem.  There’s a difference between mindful practice and mindless practice.  Mindful practice, like Mr. Hogan undoubtedly employed, is structured, focused, and intentional.  It has specific targets and goals in mind and progresses in a systematic fashion until those goals are met.

This is exactly what Nico Darras and Kevin Moore had in mind when they started Golf Blueprint.  In truth, though, the journey actually started when Nico was a client of Kevin’s Squares2Circles project.  Nico is actually a former DI baseball player who suffered a career-ending injury and took up golf at 22 years old.  In a short time, he was approaching scratch and then getting into some mini tour events.  Kevin, as mentioned in the Squares2Circles piece, is a mathematics education professor and accomplished golfer who has played in several USGA events.  Their conversations quickly changed from refining course strategy to making targeted improvements in Nico’s game.  By analyzing the greatest weaknesses in Nico’s game and designing specific practice sessions (which they call “blueprints”) around them, Nico started reaching his goals.

The transition from client to partners was equal parts swift and organic, as they quickly realized they were on to something.  Nico and Kevin used their experiences to develop an algorithm which, when combined with the client’s feedback, establishes a player profile within Golf Blueprint’s system.  Clients get a plan with weekly, monthly, and long-term goals including all of the specific blueprints that target the areas of their game where they need it most.  Not to mention, clients get direct access to Nico and Kevin through Golf Blueprint.

Nico Darras, co-founder of Golf Blueprint

While this is approaching shades of Mr. Hogan’s practice method above, there is one key distinction here.  Kevin and Nico aren’t recommending practicing for hours at a time.  Far from it.  In Nico’s words:

“We recommend 3 days a week.  You can do more or less, for sure, but we’ve found that 3 days a week is within the realm of possibility for most of our clients.  Practice sessions are roughly 45-70 minutes each, but again, all of this depends on the client and what resources they have at their disposal.  Each blueprint card is roughly 10 minutes each, so you can choose which cards to do if you only have limited time to practice.  Nothing is worse than cranking 7 irons at the range for hours.  We want to make these engaging and rewarding.”

Kevin Moore, co-founder of Golf Blueprint

So far, Golf Blueprint has been working for a wide range of golfers – from tour pros to the No Laying Up crew to amateurs alike.  Kevin shares some key data in that regard:

“When we went into this, we weren’t really sure what to expect.  Were we going to be an elite player product?  Were we going to be an amateur player product?  We didn’t know, honestly.  So far, what’s exciting is that we’ve had success with a huge range of players.  Probably 20-25% of our players (roughly speaking) are in that 7-11 handicap range.  That’s probably the center of the bell curve, if you will, right around that high-single-digit handicap range.  We have a huge range though, scratch handicap and tour players all the way to 20 handicaps.  It runs the full gamut.  What’s been so rewarding is that the handicap dropping has been significantly more than we anticipated.  The average handicap drop for our clients was about 2.7 in just 3 months’ time.”

Needless to say, that’s a pretty significant drop in a short amount of time from only changing how you practice.  Maybe that Hogan guy was on to something.  I think these guys might be too.  To learn more about Golf Blueprint and get involved, visit their website. @Golf_Blueprint is their handle for both Twitter and Instagram.

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Want to become a better putter this winter? Matt Killen gives us 5 drills to do at home

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COVID-19 had us all locked in at home, wanting to get out and play, and finally, we were able. But what about the winter months in the east? The full swing can be remedied with indoor fitting bays, practice sessions, etc. What can we do to work on our stroke?

Thank god for the Perfect Practice mat, we now have the opportunity to get some reps in over the winter and actually get better.

Matt Killen is a buddy of mine and a swing/putting coach to some of the best players in the world. He was kind enough to give us five drills even he will be doing to get better over the winter

1) 10 Left/10 Right

*10 putts left hand only, 10 putts right hand only.

This drill gets you two different things, the feeling of a proper release (trail hand) and the feeling of a firm lead hand (lead hand). If you watch Tiger on the greens before any round, he hits a ton of putts with his right hand to dial in his roll and release.

2) The Putter Gate

Just like it sounds. Build a gate using legos, coins, cups whatever. Heelside and toe side. To start give yourself some room in between, no need to go Tiger style and leave little to the imagination.

  • 20 Putts from 3 feet (20/20 Goal)
  • 20 Putts from 5 feet (15/20 Goal)
  • 20 Putts from all the way to the back of the PP Mat (12/20 Goal)

To start the goal is 47/60 78%

3) Ball Gate

This time lose the gate around the putter and create a narrow path with golf balls down the line. Once again start realistically.

This drill helps to hone in on the line, speed, roll, and path.

  • 20 Putts from 3 feet (20/20 Goal)
  • 20 Putts from 5 feet (15/20 Goal)
  • 20 Putts from all the way to the back of the PP Mat (10/20 Goal)

To start the goal is 45/60 75%

4) The Accelerator 

Place the putter directly behind the ball and without any backstroke push the ball down the line. Do it from 5 feet to start. It may be a mess at first.

This drill ensures that your eyes and hands are in harmony. It’s also a good way to get that putter head tracking down the line.

  • 30 putts focusing on the roll and speed to start; you make what you make.

5) Mono A Mono

Nothing like healthy competition amongst friends!. Find a buddy that also has a PP Mat and go nuts. Nothing like creating “have to” scenarios to build confidence.

  • Best of 10, 20, 30 whatever. Get in there via FaceTime or live in the house and compete.

 

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A post shared by GolfWRX (@golfwrx)

Want a mat? Get a mat. They are flying off the shelves, so go to PerfectPractice.Golf to confirm availability!

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