By Kevin Cullivan, Cape & Islands Golf Shop
You may be asking yourself, “What can I do to take strokes off my score?” How about practicing your putting skills? It’s fun and easy to do. It doesn’t take a lot of time and it will have an immediate impact on your scores. Unless you’re a PGA pro—and maybe if you are one—your putting game could probably use a little polishing. First, ask us here at Cape & Islands Golf Shop about your putter options and what items you will need for home practice. Then take a look at these five tips from the Steven McDaniel Golf Academy:
1. Vision and Visualization. The first thing you need to do is understand the way your eyes and brain work. Knowing your dominant eye will tell you if you have cross-side or same-side tendencies, both of which affect your stance and ball position. Also be aware of any deficiencies in your depth perception. If you have trouble with visualization—picturing how to get the ball from the putter to the hole—putting lines on the ball or the putter may help. (C&I Tip: Many pros use a straight line drawn on their ball to line up putts; especially the short ones).
2. Improve the “roll” of the ball. Is your ball prone to skidding or jumping? You may be placing it too far forward or back, or your tempo may be off. (C&I Tip: You will want to catch the ball at the lowest point of the stroke or just as the putter begins to move up. There are many putters on the market that help get the ball rolling quickly). To improve tempo, use a tick-tock or 1-2, back and forth, pendulum-type movement.
3. Read the green. Of course, your indoor “green” will be different from the grassy one on the golf course, but it needs to be read nonetheless. The process of forming a hypothesis about where your ball will roll and then seeing whether you were right forms good visualization habits, indoors or out. (C&I Tip: The vast majority of puts are not straight. Take into account the surrounding topography. In areas where there is a lot of grain in the greens pay attention to the sun. Most grain grows toward the setting sun).
4. Get the ball rolling asap. Correctly reading your shot won’t do much good if you don’t start the ball out on the right line. Try placing a target ball a meter from your position and hit another ball straight at it. The idea is to hit the ball so that it kicks forward. You should be able to easily see if you have a tendency to hit to the right or the left. (See the McDaniel Academy website for this drill and two others.).
Practice, practice, practice. McDaniel suggests a 30 minute practice session: five minutes each on tempo, aim, starting on the proper line, roll, green-reading, then finish with more tempo practice.