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 »  Home  »  Regional Editorials  »  Northeast  »  Instruction - Fall Issue
Instruction - Fall Issue
By Tom Landers | Published  10/18/2007 | Northeast | Unrated
Instruction - Fall Issue
Putting with Realistic Expectations
by Tony Roberto

We all know how important it is to putt well. If you want to score better, you must be a better putter. This means taking the time to practice. Outside of hitting as many practice putts as you do balls on the range, how can you help turn those greens in regulation into birdies and pars?

I believe that having more realistic expectations on the green will help you lower your putts per round. Most amateurs expect to make putts that they statistically miss more times than not. How does this translate into poor putting? Imagine this situation: a 15-handicap player faces a slightly downhill 12-foot putt. He has been playing well and this putt is for birdie. He does not want to leave it short. “Never up, never in,” right? So he takes dead aim, hits it firmly, but under-reads the putt and it runs four feet past the hole. He’s so upset at missing the birdie that he doesn’t take his time on the par putt and misses that, too. It’s really that easy to turn a birdie into a bogey. That is the kind of thing that can easily ruin a round.

What could this golfer have done differently to avoid a bogey? The most important thing is that his 12-footer needed to be approached more carefully. A touring professional will make almost 40% of his 12-foot putts, while a 15-handicapper will make only about 25%. With that in mind, it is wise to focus more on the speed of the 12-foot putt to eliminate the chance of a three-putt and a big score. If you try to get the ball to stop close to the hole, your chances of making the next putt go up drastically (80% inside of 2 feet). Remember this: a putt that stops a foot short of the hole is much better than one that travels three feet past. To sum up, I would love it if everyone devoted more time to their putting practice. It would really help you shoot lower scores. If you can’t find the time, then I advise being more careful about which putts you expect to make and which putts you simply want to get close. For all putts that are outside of 12 feet, your goal should be to have the putt finish within 2-3 feet of the cup and your fair share will drop in. As always, good luck in your search for better golf.

The Perfect Golf Swing
by Tom Shea

A student went to his pro and said “I want you to teach me to swing like Sam Snead.” The pro said “Sure. Come on out to the putting green.” The pro put a ball into one of the holes on the green and told the student to take the ball out of the hole without bending his knees. The student said “I can’t do that.” The pro said “Sam Snead can, so much for swinging like Sam Snead.”
Tiger Woods can rotate his shoulders 105 degrees when sitting on a chair without moving his hips. Most of us can get to about 35 degrees. We all need to learn to operate as effectively as we can within our physical limitations. Now we can do something about our physical condition if we are dedicated enough and get expert guidance. In the meantime learn a swing that works for you. Jack Palance said to Billy Chrystal, in the movie CITY SLICKERS “The secret to life is just one thing (long pause) but it’s different for everybody.” Pay heed.

If you are attempting to make changes in your golf swing (with or without a teacher) and it’s not working, maybe what you’re doing isn’t a good idea in the first place or it is something you are just not capable of doing.

Learn to do the things you can do. Decide what you want. Is it more distance? If it is you might have to something about your body. If it’s lower scores you may be able to do this by working on your short game. If you are going to work on your body to get more distance work on things that improve your ability to rotate your torso. Small amounts at regular intervals work for most of us. If it’s your short game that you’re going to focus on, you can start with short putts. You can do that right in your home. Again, small amounts at regular intervals.

If you pay attention to these things you may be able to find “The Perfect Golf Swing” for you.

Debunking the Myths – Take the Club Straight Back
by Derek Hooper

A common swing tip for the new golfer is that they should take the club straight back along the target line to start the backswing. This is simply not true and can cause many swing faults for the player who attempts to start their backswing in this way.

Firstly the move can result in a lateral weight shift rather than a coiling of the upper body over the right hip. In moving laterally the weight will move to the outside of the right foot and a loss of balance occurs. Such a straight back move can also result in a disconnection of the arms from the body. The arms now swing the club separately from the body and rather than them working together to produce maximum power, they work independently and power is lost. A straight back takeaway can also promote a closed clubface making it easier to hit shots to the left of target.

The golf swing works in an arc, where the center of that arc is the center of the chest between the two shoulders. As long as you have two hands on the grip then this will be true of every golf swing. Thus there is no way the club can be swung fluently and work in a straight line at any time during the swing. Our goal is to maintain width in the backswing and allow the club to stay on plane for as long as possible. An on plane swing is one in which the shaft of the club is either pointing at or parallel to the target line at all times. The more time the club is on plane, the more consistent your shot making will be.

So your goal is not to take the club straight back along the target line, but rather to move the club away on plane. A great drill to help you improve this area of your swing is to use a mirror and your 5 iron.

Take your set up with a mirror to your right side and holding the 5 iron at the bottom of the grip. Place a second club on the ground to represent your target line. Now slowly make your takeaway while watching your movements in the mirror. Your goal is to ensure the club you are holding is always either pointing at or parallel to the club on the ground at all times. When you can do this, you are swinging on plane.

The next step is to take your normal set up and repeat the exercise until you can perform the action at half swing speed and a three quarter backswing and follow through. Then you can tee up a ball and hit a few shots being sure to focus on the movements and not react to the ball flight. When you can keep the club on plane the ball flight will start to become more consistent.

This drill is one you can always go back to when you feel your swing getting off line. It will reinforce good swing mechanics and is simple enough to do anywhere. It is a drill that you just can not spend enough time repeating and is one that should be in every golfers practice regime.