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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

What you can learn from the rearview camera angle

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We often analyze the golf swing from the face-on view or down-the-line camera angle. However, we can also learn how the body moves in the swing from the rearview or backside view.

When seeing the swing from the rearview, we can easily see how the glutes work. The trail glute actually moves back and around in the backswing. This means the glute moves towards the target or towards the lead heel. Note the trail glute start point and endpoint at the top of the backswing.

To some, this may seem like it would cause a reverse weight shift. However, this glute movement can enable the upper body to get loaded behind the ball. This is where understanding the difference between pressure, and weight is critical (see: “Pressure and Weight”).

This also enhances the shape of the body in the backswing. From the rear angle, I prefer to have players with a tuck to their body in their trail side, a sign of no left-side bend.

This puts the body and trail arm into a “throwing position”, a dynamic backswing position. Note how the trailing arm has folded with the elbow pointing down. This is a sign the trailing arm moved in an efficient sequence to the top of the backswing.

Next time you throw your swing on video, take a look at the rearview camera angle. From this new angle, you may find a swing fault or matchup needed in your golf swing to produce your desired ball flight.

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Instruction

How to stop 3-putting and start making putts

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When we are 3-putting we are ‘stuck in the box’. This means that when we are standing over the putt the second before we make our stroke everything happens to ‘go downhill.’ When this happens, depending on your playing level, things can become a bit erratic on the putting surface.

When a 3 putt happens, it is typically because you failed to do something before you made your stroke. The large majority of my 3 putts happen when I am not completely SOLD on the line of my putt, aka not committed. Questioning anything over the ball will lead to 3 putts.

Here is a breakdown/checklist on how to approach the green and get your ball in the cup without hesitation.

1. It starts with the approach shot into the green and the decision of direction you make to enter the hole. Scan the entire green with your eyes on the walk-up. Left to right and right to left. Look for a few seconds before you step onto the putting surface. This helps determine the high side and the low side, or if the green is relatively flat. Don’t be picky, just look and make a decision.

2. Once you get to the ball, mark it. Take 3 steps behind your ball mark. Now you must pick a line… Left, Center, or Right of the cup. (Skip step 3 if you know the line) It should take seconds but for those that are not sure it will take longer. Understand that every putt has a statistical level of difficulty. So to increase the odds, players must avoid putting in the unsure mind, and take the time to figure out a line. I also find that people who are 3 putting are overly confident and just not committed aka too quick to putt.

3. To commit, you must find the angle of entry into the cup. Walk up to the hole and look at the cup. How is it cut? Determine if it is cut flat or on a slope angle. This will help you see the break if you are having a hard time. Then determine how much break to play. Cut the hole into 4 quarters with your eyes standing right next to it. Ask yourself, which quarter of the cup does the ball need to enter to make the putt go in the hole?

I encourage using the phrases ‘in the hole’ or ‘to the hole’ as great reinforcement and end thoughts before stroking the ball. I personally visualize a dial on the cup. When my eyes scan the edges, I see tick marks of a clock or a masterlock – I see the dial pop open right when I pick the entry quadrant/tick mark because I cracked the code.

Remember, the most important parts of the putt are: 1.) Where it starts and 2. ) Where it ends.

4. To secure the line, pick something out as the apex of the putt on the walk back to the mark. Stand square behind the ball mark and the line you have chosen.

5. To further secure the line, place your ball down and step behind it to view the line from behind the ball. Don’t pick up the ball mark until you have looked from behind. When you look, you need to scan the line from the ball to the cup with your eyes. While you are scanning, you can make adjustments to the line – left, right or center. Now, on the walk into the box, pickup the mark. This seals the deal on the line. Square your putter head to the ball, with feet together, on the intended line.

6. To make the putt, look at the apex and then the cup while taking your stance and making practice strokes to calibrate and gauge how far back and through the stroke needs to be.

7. To prove the level of commitment, step up to the ball and look down the intended line to the apex back to the cup and then back to the apex down to your ball. As soon as you look down at the ball, never look up again. Complete one entire stroke. A good visual for a putting stroke is a battery percentage and comparing your ‘complete stroke’ to the percentage of battery in the bar.

8. Look over your shoulder once your putter has completed the stroke, i.e. listen for the ball to go in and then look up!

If you find a way that works, remember it, and use it!

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Instruction

Golf 101: Why do I chunk it?

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Whether you are a beginner, 10 handicaps, or Rory McIlroy, no one player is immune to the dreaded chunk. How many times have you hit a great drive, breathing down the flag from your favorite yardage and laid the holy sod over one? It’s awful and can be a total rally killer.

So what causes it? It could be several things, for some players, it could be a steep angle of attack, others, early extension and an early bottoming out and sometimes you’ve just had too many Coors Lights and the ground was closer than your eyes told you…been there.

This is Golf 101—let’s make it real simple and find one or two ways that a new golfer can self diagnose and treat themselves on the fly.

THE MAIN CAUSE

With beginners I have noticed there are two main things that cause the dreaded chunk:

  1. Players stand too close to the ball and have no way to get outta the way on the way down. This also really helps to hit Chunk’s skinny cousin: Skull.
  2. No rotation in any form causing a steep angle of attack. You’ve seen this, arms go back, the body stays static, the club comes back down and sticks a foot in the ground.

SO HOW DO I FIX MYSELF?

Without doing all-out brain surgery, here are two simple things you can do on the course (or the range) to get that strike behind the ball and not behind your trail foot.

This is what I was taught when I was a kid and it worked for years.

  1. Make baseball swings: Put the club up and in front of your body and make horizontal swings paying close attention to accelerating on the way through. After a few start to bend at the hips down and down until you are in the address position. This not only gives your body the sensation of turning but reorientates you to exactly where the bottom of your arc is.
  2. Drive a nail into the back of the ball: This was a cure-all for me. Whether I had the shanks, chunks, skulls, etc, focusing on putting the clubhead into the back of that nail seemed to give me a mental picture that just worked. When you are hammering a nail into a wall. you focus on the back of that nail and for the most part, hit it flush 9 outta 10 times. Not sure if its a Jedi mind trick or a real thing, but it has gotten me outta more pickles than I care to admit.

As you get better, the reason for the chunk may change, but regardless of my skill level, these two drills got me out of it faster than anything all while helping encourage better fundamentals. Nothing wrong with that.

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