THE ART OF PUTTING
Putting is a combination of good mechanics, feel, and ball position.
Start with a good grip. With a conventional putter, your thumbs should be placed on the flat surface of the putter. Even if you will employ a cross handed grip, your palms should be opposing each other. Arms should hang so as your arms will swing naturally in front of your body. Your hands will lead the putter face in to impact and the butt end of the putter will stay pointing at your belly button as you strike the ball. This will allow the putter to release slightly. A reverse grip is also advisable, which means that your lead arm is lower on the grip. This will help your putting with less breaking down in the wrists through impact. The swing is a pendulum stroke from the shoulders.
Here is an easy way to feel and make the mechanics great. Take your position with putting grip and place an empty water bottle between your arms and squeeze arms together. This will get the shoulders, arms and the hands together. The ball position should be 2" forward of center, this way your putter will catch the ball on a slightly up stroke insuring that you apply top spin on your ball which will keep your ball direction and the roll true. The putter face should go up slightly on the follow through, not chasing the ball low. Your stance should be hip width apart trying to make a tripod with your legs and your putter. Also, there should be a tilting of your upper body from the hips, to instill a free flowing arm movement through the stroke. Also, keep your head still until the ball hits the bottom of the cup. This will ensure a solid foundation. Your eyes do not have to be over the ball. This is the best way to put. All those guys going to non conventional styles of putting seem to go back to a short putter. Does Tiger put with a conventional putter?
Here are some easy lessons to learn while practicing:
1) For 10' putts take the putter 4-5" back and with slight acceleration forward hit the ball,8-10"=20' 16-18"= 30'. This formula works awesome. If you have an up hill putt, adjust a little more. If down hill putt, take a little off the back stroke and your putting will improve quickly.
2) Place five balls in a row 1' apart and sink all in a row. If you miss just one you have to start all over. This is called five in a row or you can’t go. Statistics show that the Pros only make 95% from 3', 56% from 6', 34% from 9', 15% from 12' and 1% from 15'. So, knowing that the pros are making this many, you should only count on doing your best and always try to stay under the regulation, two putts per hole. When you add up your score at the end of the day it should be 43% of you score in putts.
THE ART OF CHIPPING
Start with a neutral grip, not too strong, not to weak. Weaker would be better than strong; strong will not allow the ball to go up in the air. The keys to chipping are to practice a short, sharp, crisp stroke, back and forth, brushing the ground back and forth, back and forth, repeating it over and over, listening to the crisp stroke as it brushes the grass. There is a slight wrist hinge on the back swing and none on the down swing. I call this the “some and none” drill.
The easiest way to describe this chipping technique is to imagine a playground slide, and imagine the club face going on the back swing, up the slide and returning down the slide, striking the ball on the down swing. Stop abruptly after you hit the ball, to make it crisp.
Your set up on this shot is to aim your body to the left of the target, with a slight flex of the knees, and a tilt of the upper body from the hips. Your left arm should be in an extended taught position. Your hands in placement with the club should be in the center of your stance, no further forward, or behind center of stance. Your shoulders will be aimed at the target. The ball position should be back in your stance one foot away from your toe, this will help you to become an expert at chipping, and ensure that you strike on a descending blow. This will make the ball go up in the air, and will put a little back spin on the ball.
There is a rule of thumb on using an 8 iron: the ball will fly ¼ of the distance and the ball will roll ¾ of the way to the target, using a pitching wedge the ball will fly ½ way and roll ½ way, if you use a lob wedge the ball will fly ¾ of the way and the ball will roll ¼ of the way. These are close estimates as your wedges may vary in lofts.
Here are a couple of chipping drills besides the play ground slide.
Lay your golf bag between you and the flag stick, off the green of course. Place a ball about two feet from the bag strike the ball but don’t hit the bag with your club face and watch the ball leap over the bag.
You can also place a empty range basket between you and the flag stick, place a ball about two feet away from the basket and try to hit it low with a wedge of your choice. Watch the ball fly over the basket towards the flag.