by Glenn Rader
Posted on January 21, 2018
If you really want to get the most out of your putting practice sessions, you must practice with purpose.
To actually improve at putting, you must arrive at your putting practice session with a plan, taking a structured approach. Mindlessly knocking balls around isn't really going to help you much. Presented here are three drills or "mini-games" that can help you develop your putting mechanics, grant structure to your practice sessions, and boost your confidence. So let's take a look at each one in detail...
Why on earth would you practice 1-foot putts? Those are easy peasy, and you can't learning anything from them, right? Humor me for a moment.. put several balls in a circle about a foot from the hole. Then putt every single one of them into the hole. You should easily sink all of them. So what's the point? Do you know how good it is for your confidence to sink every single putt, to see it drop into the hole, to hear it rattle around in the bottom of the cup? This is a confidence building exercise designed to strengthen your golf psyche. Get used to seeing, hearing, and feeling the golf ball go into the hole. It's a basic exercise that you should continue to practice forever. So give it a shot; make it your warm-up drill when you first step onto the putting green.
Putting can be broken down into two fundamental components - line and ball speed. If you hit the ball along the right line with the appropriate speed, it's going to go in. Of these two, speed is the more important parameter. Misread the break by one foot, but hit the ball with good speed, and you'll be left with a one foot putt. But read the break correctly and hit the ball at the wrong speed, and suddenly you're left with a putt that's either 5 feet short or 10 feet past the hole.
So we need to hone in on the speed of our putts. One great way to learn how to control your ball speed is to putt to the rough. Ok, not the rough, but the fringe around the green. Here's what you want to do:
What we're developing here is a feel for distance, and over time, your guesses will get better and better.
While line is secondary to speed, we mustn't ignore it. Starting the ball on the right line and actually hitting your chosen line is something you're going to learn through trial-and-error feedback. Here's an exercise you can do to refine this skill:
Once you feel like you've grooved your putting stroke and are making lots of easy roll overs, take note of your mechanics. Perhaps even have a friend film you with their cell phone, and review your posture, distance from the ball, eye to ball position, and so on.
So there you have it - three drills you can take to the pratice green next time. Running through these drills will give your practice time structure and purpose, and will help you develop confidence, a good feel for ball speed, and a knack for putting the ball exactly on the line you want. And if you're in the market for a new putter to try out these drills, be sure and check out our Top 10 Putters list.
by Glenn Rader
Posted on January 14, 2018
Joel Beall over at golfdigest.com has written a great article covering 17 rules of golf you definitely want to be aware of before playing any tournament golf - anything from a flighted charity tournament to the U.S. Mid-Amateur.
Now I'm not going to re-hash those 17 rules here, but I would like to highlight a few of them I found interesting. First up would be Order of Play. Apparently this primarily comes up in match play, not stroke play, and sounds like it is rarely used. If it's your turn to hit because you are further back, but your match competitor hits instead, this violates the order of play, and you can call them on it. There is no penalty stroke, but their shot is cancelled, and they would have to replay it, after you've hit yours. I like what Joel had to say about this rule:
"Unless it's an egregious offense, don't call this on a competitor. Unless you want their putter tomahawked into your windshield after the round."
The second rule I'd like to highlight from Joel's article is the Sprinkler Head rule. Sprinkler heads can be found all over golf courses, but they are generally strategically placed into the landscape to be as unobtrusive as possible. Sometimes, however, you'll find one, often times near the green. The good news is you get relief from sprinkler heads, as they fall under the immoveable objects rule. So if your ball comes to rest on a sprinkler head, or your intended stance would put a foot on a sprinkler head, or the sprinkler head would interfere with your swing, well, you get relief. Here's the catch - line of play. If the sprinkler head lies between you and the flagstick, interfering with your putt or chip - well, too bad! You don't get relief from this. Time to bust out a wedge and pop the ball over.
The final rule I'd like to mention is one of the Flagstick rules. It is a penalty to hit the flagstick when it is unattended in the hole, but only when your stroke is played from the putting green (putts or chips from the fringe and beyond aren't affected by this rule). So if your ball is on the green, and you sink your putt while the flagstick is in the cup - BAM! Penalty! And a bad one, too - the penalty is loss of hole in match play, and TWO strokes in stroke play! Don't let this ever happen to you.