A majority of mis-hit shots on and around the green can be eliminated simply by evening out your stroke. Whether you’re putting, chipping or pitching, a proper stroke should be equal distance back and through. Even the dreaded “yips” are mostly a result of failing to perform this simple technique. There are two types of mistakes you could be making:
1. One mistake is making a backswing that is too short. This error forces the player to add something to the forward swing to create the needed momentum in order to get the energy to reach the target. It can lead to excessive shoulder motion, unnecessary leg drive, unwanted lateral slide, reverse weight shifting, and unnecessary wrist flipping.
2. The other common mistake is making a backswing that is too long. This error forces the player to take something away, typically slowing down the forward swing in order to reduce the amount of energy to reach the target. It can lead to deceleration, jabbing & flinching, lifting, and heavy or topped shots.
If you are able to perform a stroke that is equal back and through, it is much easier to control the rhythm of the stroke and to minimize helpful control or effort which you may be tempted to add to either accelerate or decelerate the speed of the stroke. Here is a simple awareness drill which can help you identify your specific problem and assist you in finding the right stroke.
1. Choose a reasonable shot or putt to practice. In this case I am demonstrating a chip shot with about 2 yards carry to the edge of the green.
2. Place a ball directly outside and in front of the ball you intend to hit.
3. Looking at your target, or the landing spot for chipping and pitching, estimate how far back you will need to swing to make the shot. Then place another ball directly across from your clubhead at this length of back swing.
4. Place a final ball on the forward side of the stroke an equal distance from the center ball as your backswing ball.
5. Practice making rehearsal strokes of this length and see how it feels. Adjust as necessary. Once you’re comfortable making this rehearsal, try playing the actual shot with a general awareness of how your clubhead is swinging in relation to the two outside balls. If you need to adjust the length of the backswing ball go ahead and do so, but make sure you also equally adjust the forward swing ball. You will quickly become aware if you make either of the two common mistakes. Don’t worry, keep practicing using this technique and you will even out your performance in no time!
Chip Koehlke, PGA Professional,
Director of Instruction, Faldo Golf Institute
12001 Avenida Verde. Orlando, FL 32821
Direct Line (407) 238-3400 or (888)