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instruction: Early Season Scoring Fix
Sue Kaffenburgh
By Sue Kaffenburgh
Published on 05/2/2016

instruction: Early Season Scoring Fix
The start of the season is upon us and you will need to put in practice time at the range to play well.  What if I told you that you can reduce your score, dramatically, in one hour, just by changing your thinking…about PUTTING.

Many of you have an awful time getting a feel for, and finding consistency, in controlling distance when putting. While there are many approaches to putting, the majority of you fall into one of two categories. Category One putters pay attention to the length of the backswing to regulate how far the ball needs to go. Further complicating the process, these golfers are stuck on the idea that the putting stroke must resemble a pendulum. Thus, they work hard to keep the length of the stroke equal, back and forth. Not effective!
Category Two putters pay attention to how hard they need to hit the ball, as it relates to the distance they envision to the hole. While the length of their backswings change, similar to Category One, this group finds even less success because their golf ball’s end resting place is sometimes farther away from the hole than when they started. Really not good!

There is a better way. Literally, imagine what has to happen to the ball.  For the ball to tumble into the hole, more than half of it needs to be below the level of the cup as it arrives. Is there an optimum speed the ball should be traveling in order for gravity to work and have it fall the rest of the way, even if it’s a bit off line? Yes. Tests have shown that a ball that has two to three revolutions left, as it arrives at the hole has the best chance to fall into the cup. Test this yourself by rolling balls at different speeds by hand from about three feet away from the hole. Observe that balls rolling really fast, even if they are on line, will not go in. Obviously, rolling too slow won’t make the ball go into the hole. Your intention should be to feed the ball towards the hole so it just tumbles over the front edge. That’s what two to three revolutions looks and feels like.

Grab your putter and practice three-foot putts first, then, move back to six feet, nine, 12, etc., Sense how much ENERGY you need to exchange on to the ball so it ARRIVES at the hole with only two to three revolutions left.

And, stop paying attention to the length of your backswing! Instead, think of the colors of a traffic light. Green means go, yellow means slow down, and red says stop. Start the ball rolling normal speed through the “green” zone, knowing that as it travels through “yellow” it’s starting to lose speed, coming to a stop by the red.

Your new intention is to DELIVER a ball that is programmed to slow down earlier, as it approaches the hole with only a few revolutions left at the end. The added benefit to this technique is that, should you miss, your comeback putt is a tap in!

Sue Kaffenburgh, PGA/LPGA, 
Bayberry Hills Golf Course, Yarmouth, MA.  508-364-GOLF (4653)