The FACTS of the Short Game: Putting is KEY
PGA Lead Golf Instructor, The Golf Institute
Gaylord Springs Golf Links
Did you know that the average tour player only gets the ball up and down 26 percent of the time from 50-75 yards? That means they are averaging about 10 feet from the hole. And from 76-100 yards that number drops to 17 percent which means they are averaging close to 20 feet from the hole. I know that seems hard to believe and for most of us, we are saying “they should work on their wedges!” Is the answer hit it closer or make more putts?
When I talk to students about putting, I try to be realistic. The best golfers in the world make nearly 99 percent of their putts from three feet, but only about 56 percent of their putts from five feet, another stat that is mind boggle ling. So we see why they always say “drive for show and putt for doe.” The missing ingredients in most golfers putting game are (1) good posture, (2) a solid putter path and (3) the ability to get the putter face square at impact.
One of the more overlooked aspects of putting is posture. Have you ever played a round where you couldn’t get comfortable over the ball? Maybe you felt too tall or too short and the stroke felt all wrong. When posture is out of position, the dynamics of the stroke change and the ability to hit solid putts become near impossible. The foundation of a good putter is a solid repeatable posture. With this in mind, I came up with an easy-to-use teaching aid that promotes good posture by creating a connection between the sternum and putter head, called the Pendulum Putting Rod. You can mark it with a sharpie for your adjusted height to reassure that you get in the same posture each and every time you play. This device also reinforces a solid path that will aid in making more of the crucial short-range putts along with better distance control.
The path of the putter is important to maintaining a good solid impact every time. Many times a player will “flip” the putter through impact due to overuse of hands. This is not uncommon in the full swing, but often seen in the putting stroke. I believe the putter should travel in a small arc, working slightly inside on the backstroke and slightly inside on the forward stroke.
With the Putting Rod, a player can visually see if there is breakdown before or during the stroke and will also get a sense of disconnection when the path of putter alters any direction other than “pendulum” style motion. The secret to creating a solid path is to have a perfect connection between the shoulders, arms and hands. When these parts work in unison, there is less chance for the putter to take a detour during the stroke and a much better chance to square the clubface at impact.
Many instructors argue that path is not as important as having a square clubface at impact. While there may be truth to that statement as to starting the ball on line, a ball will not stay on the target line if the path is incorrect. According to Ben Hogan, a player needs body control first (posture), club control second (path) and ball control third (impact). Now that we have that in order, impact is the third key to becoming a great putter. When a player creates the perfect union between the clubhead, hands and body then they are ready to work impact or ball control. In my studies, the shaft should be slightly forward at impact to create a solid hit. The hard part is getting the clubface square. Geometry teaches us that a straight line can only make contact with a circle in point. Therefore the only way to get the clubface out of position is if there is shaft role. This is caused by a breakdown in the hands or the hands get overly involved in the attempt to “square” the face and cause an over squaring resulting in a pull or hold the face open resulting in a push. Drawing a straight line on the ball and trying to get the ball to roll end over end is a great drill for this. Which ever side the line works to will show you if the clubface got closed (line works on left side) or open (line works on right side of ball).
Work on these 3 ingredients and you will become a better putter in no time. For more information on the Pendulum Putting Rod, please go to www.eyelinegolf.com or for more information about myself and The Golf Institute, go to www.brianlackeygolf.com. For more help with your putting or other aspects of your game please contact me or your own PGA Professional.