Breaking                                              YOUR MONTHLY GUIDE                                              TO T...
Putting is a simple task. There’s no big shoulder         Don’t move that head                                            ...
Once you’re consistently shooting in the 90s,        How low can you go?                                                  ...
Players approaching the 70s often start                                                                                   ...
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Taking aim at great putting: Breaking 100-90-80

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Taking aim at great putting: Breaking 100-90-80

  1. 1. Breaking YOUR MONTHLY GUIDE TO THE SCORING BASICS 1009080>> For more Breaking 100-90-80 articlesvisit GolfDigest.com/instruction By Todd Sones with Peter McCleery Todd Sones owns and operates Todd Sones Impact Golf Center at White Deer Golf Club in Vernon Hills, Ill. Take aim at great putting Making more putts is a matter of focusing your efforts in the right area. If you’re a high-handicapper, start by learning the set-up fun- damentals that influence the stroke. As you advance, you need to sharpen your green- reading and refine your stroke me- chanics to achieve solid contact every time. Creating a pre-putt routine will help. Better players should work on maximizing “feel” through pressurized practice and target-retention drills. Follow my plan and your putting skills will soar—and your scores will drop. PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHRIS STANFORD • ILLUSTRATIONS BY JIM LUFT Golf Digest .com 187
  2. 2. Putting is a simple task. There’s no big shoulder Don’t move that head Hand-off drill Keeping your Beat mid-round slumps Here’s a simple checkBreaking turn, no weight shift, no wrist hinge—just an head still is When your putting goes sour in the to make sure your100 easy motion back and through. This puts extra fundamental middle of a round, here’s how to get arms are hanging to good the ball rolling into the hole. Step off under your shoulders: importance on your setup, because in putting putting. You to the side, close your eyes and Set up and drop your can practice swing your arms the way you do on back hand off the club, you never get too far from your starting this by taking a putt. Is your body balanced at ad- letting it hang freely. If your setup dress? Does it stay balanced as you your posture is good, position. Mastering a few basic set-up with the top of make the stroke? This is a great way your hand will stay in fundamentals might be the easiest way to take your head against to check your setup and tempo and line with the grip, not a wall, then hitting get your putting back on track. move away from or those 100-plus rounds down into the 90s. some putts. toward your body. Finger grip Grip it in your palm Preparation is everything Don’t grip the putter in your fingers (above), as Making putts depends so much on Palm grip you do in the full swing. This type of grip pro- your setup, since errors at address lead motes wrist hinge, which you don’t want when directly to errors in the stroke. Tilt for- you putt. Set the grip through the palm of your ward from your hips and let your arms left hand, with the butt end at the inside of your hang, so they can swing freely. For wrist (left). There are a lot of acceptable putting most golfers, ball position should be grips, from the traditional reverse-overlap to left- slightly ahead of center. The shaft hand-low to the modern “claw” grip used by a should be perpendicular to the ground, few tour players, including Chris DiMarco. But with the grip pointing just forward of the common denominator in all effective styles is your sternum. Stand so you feel gripping in the palm of the top hand. stacked, your hips over your heels and your weight on the middle of each foot.188 Golf Digest.com OCTOBER 2005 SPOT ILLUSTRATION BY SAM WARD OCTOBER 2005 Golf Digest.com 189
  3. 3. Once you’re consistently shooting in the 90s, How low can you go? Be a gatecrasher Building an arcBreaking To feel a low, level stroke, tie a 15-foot piece Set up two tees into a “gate” six inches in you’ve played enough golf to start thinking of string to two pencils, stick one in the Some players insist that the putter- front of the ball. Make it wide enough for the 90 about developing feel. Putting feel is an acquired ground behind the cup, then stretch the head swings straight back and ball but not the putterhead. string and plant the other one as shown. Hit through, but we know it moves on Putt between them. Y our skill. Y brain needs to learn how the length of our putts keeping the putter under the string. an arc (below). What gives? These putter will crash into the players are more in tune with the feel tees, so you’ll learn your stroke relates to distance. This starts with of how their hands are moving (in a to make a short straight line) than how the putter- through- consistently making solid contact with the head is moving (on an arc). This is stroke, ball—a result of good fundamentals. Let’s look fine with me, because watching the which putterhead is a distraction. promotes at the basic stroke motion. acceleration.Swing longer, not faster Mark your putting arcThe length of your stroke should change The putterhead travels in a slight arcbased on the distance to the hole, but your because you stand to the side of thetempo should stay the same. Strive for ball with the shaft angled toward yoursmooth acceleration through impact. To hit body. If your arms hang freely from yourputts of different lengths, many golfers alter shoulders at address and swing backtheir tempo instead of the length of the and through during the stroke, thestroke. Notice here how my backstroke putterhead automatically moves on thechanges for 10-, 20- and 30-foot putts. correct arc. Focus on swinging yourFocus on swinging back and through the hands and let the angle of the shaft takesame amount, lengthening your stroke as care of the path.the putts get longer.190 Golf Digest.com OCTOBER 2005 SPOT ILLUSTRATION BY SAM WARD OCTOBER 2005 Golf Digest.com 191
  4. 4. Players approaching the 70s often start Find the breaking point That hole in your head On long breakers, try to identify the apexBreaking making the game too complicated. Great putters have a keen feel for the of the break, or break point, 80 Remember, putting is a simple task; don’t get putterhead contacting the ball. To de- and estimate the slope velop your feel, set up to a putt, then from there to the in your own way. If you’re shooting in the low look at the hole and take a snapshot cup. With your eyes, Narrow your focus of it in your mind. Return to the ball, trace the line from to mid-80s, you’re already a skilled player, so Practice short putts with a scorecard over close your eyes, and hit the putt with the ball to the hole, a third of the hole to learn to zero in on an the target fresh in your mind. Practic- passing through that trust your instincts. Consistent execution is entry point. Cover the part of the cup that ing with your eyes closed will help point. Don’t the key for you, and the best way to ensure represents the low side. For example, on you connect the feel of impact with just look right-to-left putts, set the scorecard over the distance the ball rolls. up at the that is to adopt a simple pre-putt routine. the left third of the hole. hole.1Define the line (5 seconds)Your first read is usually best, so resist theurge to look at three different angles. If you 2 Practice like real (5 seconds) Take a practice stroke parallel to your line to get a feel for the stroke you’ll need to reach 3 Commit to the plan (5 seconds) Aim the putterface down your intended line and settle your feet under your hips, so that 4 Putt without delay (3 seconds) Don’t just stand over the ball doing nothing. It’s the worst thing you can do, because itneed a second look, try the low side. In time the hole. Square the face as you would on an you’re balanced and your arms hang freely introduces muscle tension and negativeyou’ll see that reading the break from behind actual putt, and make a true rehearsal stroke. under your shoulders. Trace the path of the thinking. Plus, the longer you wait, the weakerthe ball almost always gives you all you need. Then slide the putter behind the ball. putt to the hole with your eyes. the image of the hole is in your mind’s eye.192 Golf Digest.com OCTOBER 2005 SPOT ILLUSTRATION BY SAM WARD OCTOBER 2005 Golf Digest.com 193

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