Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Play Your Best - by cameron mccormick

1 bench your put­ter

If you’re the kind of golfer who talks to a put­ter, gives it a good spank­ing when it isn’t per­form­ing, and even threat­ens to back your car over it, it’s time for the “we need to take a break from each other” con­ver­sa­tion. Bench your put­ter for some­thing dif­fer­ent. Use a blade? Switch to a mal­let. Al­ways pre­ferred heel-shafted put­ters? Try a cen­tre­shaft. Ev­ery­thing from club length to grip cir­cum­fer­ence is up for con­sid­er­a­tion. Go get fit­ted. The big switch works for two rea­sons. First, there are no bad mem­o­ries with a new put­ter. It’s a new day. Sec­ond, as­sum­ing the old one isn’t now re­sid­ing in a scrap­metal yard, you’ll make it just jeal­ous enough that it will per­form its best when you rekin­dle your re­la­tion­ship.

2 re­ally bench your put­ter

“It’s not you, it’s me” won’t fly as a break-up ex­cuse af­ter the sec­ond date, but it’s prob­a­bly true of your re­la­tion­ship with the put­ter. It showed up ready to bury ev­ery five-footer – but some­times you didn’t. You need a re­fresher on me­chan­ics. So I sug­gest you prac­tice putting with your sand wedge. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. A good stroke is pro­pelled by the shoul­ders and re­quires min­i­mal hand or wrist ac­tion. To get the ball rolling with a wedge, you have to make that kind of stroke hit­ting the ball at its equa­tor with the lead­ing edge

(above). This type of prac­tice elic­its pre­ci­sion and is good for the old ego. You’re more apt to for­give your­self for a miss, which helps re­duce those anx­ious feel­ings that turn you into a pud­dle of goo when the putts ac­tu­ally count.

3 grab and go

You’ve held your put­ter the same way for so long the grip is start­ing to look like one of those train­ing clubs that has grooved chan­nels for your fin­gers. It’s time to switch it up, be­cause what you’re do­ing is piti­ful. The eas­i­est switch would be to flip hand po­si­tions so the higher one is lower. But I think you should take it a step fur­ther. Get crazy with it. Try the saw, the claw, the paint­brush, the non-an­chored belly grip. Some­times all you need is a dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent way of hold­ing the club to re­set your brain and start rolling the ball the way you used to.

4 hit some bombs

On the putting green you need to be more Pi­casso than Pythago­ras. In other words, know­ing the maths be­hind a putt is im­por­tant (speed, slope, etc.), but don’t let it squelch your right-brain artistry. You prob­a­bly aren’t crunch­ing num­bers when you ball up a piece of pa­per and try toss­ing it into the garbage. You just use your feel. My sug­ges­tion? Go deep. Find the long­est, cra­zi­est putts on a green and try to make them. Even putting from well off the green will help you get your feel back. You know you have to hit the ball hard, and you know it’s go­ing to break, but when you try th­ese long-dis­tance putts, you be­come less con­cerned with the me­chan­ics and tap back into the hand-eye co­or­di­na­tion you thought you lost. An­other ben­e­fit? It will free up your stroke. No more try­ing to steer them in. You’ll putt with­out fear of miss­ing. Re­boot com­plete.

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