TODD ANDERSON

Fix your putting stroke.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents -

Let’s take a step back and con­sider what it means to slice a putt. It’s no dif­fer­ent than slic­ing a drive:The club cuts across the ball from out to in with the club­face open.And just like with the driver, the re­sult is a weak shot that veers off line. The dif­fer­ence in putting is, in­stead of the mid-air the­atrics of a ball peel­ing into the trees, the sliced putt sim­ply comes up short and to the right of where you wanted (for right­ies). Less dra­matic, but no less frus­trat­ing.

Why does this hap­pen? If you’re like a lot of golfers, you watch your putts roll by lift­ing your head and turn­ing your body to­wards the hole.When the shoul­ders ro­tate open, the club gets dragged with them on an out-to-in path.That sounds like a pull,right? Well,it would be if the put­ter­face were square to that path, but it’s usu­ally open when you cut across the ball. That means a glanc­ing strike with an open club­face – and a putt that misses short and low.

By con­trast, pic­ture how the pros watch their putts.They stay in their pos­ture and swivel their heads so their eyes can track the ball. Jack Nick­laus is one that comes to mind – how he stayed in his trade­mark putting pos­ture for so long – or Jor­dan Spi­eth to­day. Like all the great putters, they know that a sta­ble body is cru­cial to con­sis­tency on the greens.

You might be think­ing, Why does it mat­ter if I turn to the hole af­ter the ball is gone? Be­cause you’re start­ing to turn be­fore im­pact; you’re al­ready half­way out of your pos­ture by the time the put­ter meets the ball.The fix here – the one thing I want you to think about – is stay­ing down and keep­ing your body square. Here are two drills to work on.

First, hit some three-foot­ers left-hand-only with your right hand hold­ing your left shoul­der in place. If the left shoul­der stays down, you’ll swing the put­ter to­wards the hole. You can also do this drill with your left hand choked down so the grip is against the fore­arm.That gives the sen­sa­tion of your left arm and the put­ter mov­ing to­gether down the line with the face square.Af­ter a while, putt nor­mally and strive for the same feel.

For a se­cond drill, set up five feet from a hole and place a ball marker just be­hind your ball. The marker should be par­tially hid­den when you take your ad­dress. Prac­tise hit­ting putts fo­cus­ing on see­ing the ball move away from the marker. This drill will keep your head down a frac­tion longer and help the put­ter­head swing on a straight path with a square face.

These prac­tice drills will help you stop peek­ing too soon. Once you calm the in­stinct to chase the ball with your eyes, you can fo­cus on swivel­ing your head to­wards the tar­get, like the pros do. Know what else you’ll be do­ing like the pros? Pulling the ball out of the hole. TODD ANDERSON, a Golf Digest Teach­ing Pro­fes­sional, is the di­rec­tor of in­struc­tion for the PGA Tour Per­for­mance Cen­tre at TPC Saw­grass in Ponte Ve­dra Beach.

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