Putting tips from the practice green
The next few blogs will focus on different parts of the game. Let’s start with putting. There is almost zero doubt that the best thing you can do to take strokes off your score is to practice and get better with the putter. There are a number of documented instances on the PGA Tour where putting has contributed to a successful tournament, but none more obvious than the year Joe Durant, a tour journeyman, won his first event.
Joe was the best ball striker on tour for two seasons straight a few years ago. His percentages for fairways hit and greens in regulation were the best. There was only one problem: He was 186th in putting. So although he was such a great ball striker, he never entered the winner's circle. That was until the Walt Disney Classic. That week he was second in putting and won the tournament easily.
Here are a few drills that you can use to practice your putting and improve:
The putting clock: Set up six balls in a clock pattern around the hole at a distance of about 3 feet. Putt each one, and when you make all six in a row, move out to 4 feet and repeat. If you make all six from 4 feet, you have passed the first test. As you get better you could add 5-foot and 6-foot putts.
Ten, 20, 30, 40: Position one ball 10 feet from the hole, the next 20 feet from the hole, the next 30 feet, and the next 40 feet. Putt all four and try to score 7 (three two-putts and a one-putt). If you three-putt any ball you need to repeat the drill. When you have scored seven or less three times, you have passed.
Call it: Drop a ball between 20 and 40 feet from the hole. Go through the normal pre-shot routine, and just before you putt, close your eyes. Putt the ball toward the hole and call long or short just after the ball leaves the club. Look up to see where the ball finishes. Once you get five in a row correct, you have passed.
The bottom line here is that you are spending time hitting putts. Devote a half hour of each practice session to putting and your scores will drop, I guarantee it!
Ian Grant is a PGA teaching professional and a member of the teaching faculty of the PGA of America. He can be contacted at Oak Brook Golf Club 630-990-3032 in the summer and White Pines Golf Dome in Bensenville 630-422-1060 in the winter. You can contact Ian directly at 708-917-8951, or at Iansgolf@aol.com.