With the cold winter months many golfers find it difficult, if not impossible, to get to the course and play a round of golf or to practice. Joe Bauer, the Director of Instruction at Stone Canyon Golf Club in Blue Springs, Mo., offers advice on staying golf ready through the cold winter months. This week Joe will discuss what you can do to improve your putting skills.
Putting makes up about 40% of a golfers score. The driver may be used only a few holes during the round. The same is true for the six iron or any other club in the bag, except the putter which is generally used on almost every hole. The exception is the chip that falls into the cup, but we can’t expect that to happen with consistency.
Joe teaches putting by splitting it into two phases and the mechanics is the first part to be addressed. The mechanics are used to build a consistently repeatable stroke. According to Joe, “Proper mechanics allows you to develop and maintain a stroke that consistently delivers the putter face square to your intended line at impact.”
There are basically two types of putting strokes, the straight back and straight through stroke and the arc stroke. Joe promotes the development of the straight back and straight through stroke, which allows a square putter face through the entire stroke. The arc stroke is dependent on timing to deliver the club face square to the target.
Start with the grip when practicing the mechanics. The players grip should be comfortable and tension free. The palms of the hand should be parallel with each other. Develop a grip that gives you the sense of being in control of the putt. Joe says, “Putting leaves a lot of room for individual grip styles, but comfort and control are paramount.”
To develop this type of stroke the player can place two clubs parallel with each other on the practice area. Leave just enough room for the putter to travel between the clubs. Try to keep the putter between the clubs during the entire stroke. Practicing this drill a few minutes each week will help to develop and efficient putting stroke and booster your confidence.
The second aspect of the practice is distance control. Feel is totally unique to each golfer and can only be developed through practice. Joe utilizes a drill using a handful of balls to help develop touch for players he is instructing.
Drop the balls on the practice area, making sure the area allows you to putt to multiple distances. Putt only one ball to the first hole or designated distance. Immediately line-up and putt your next ball to a different distance. Continue to put to a different hole, adjusting to the varying distances and if possible lies (uphill, downhill and so forth). With practice this simple drill will help develop your touch and distance control.
Joe says, “The fastest way to lower your scores is to improve your putting and I encourage you to work on yours today.”
Putting is a stroke that can be practiced inside during inclement weather or when there just isn't enough time to go to a practice green. You can putt on carpet, linoleum, or just about any surface. The practice drills can also be used in conjunction with the Pro Tour Card and instructional DVD, which was developed by Joe Bauer.