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One of the most common errors in putting is poor alignment. Specific sources of trouble can be poor posture, head position, or ball position. Many golfers may also have problems with their eyes, in that they have not trained their eyes to see the line correctly. Often times they are aiming their putter to the right or left of the hole and are simply unaware of their tendency.
If you are one of these players, finding a method of aligning properly will be very beneficial to your game. Some players employ intermediate targets for assistance and others use the line on their putter as a targeting tool. My favorite, however, is to line up the logo or marked line on the golf ball along the intended line of the putt.
You may have noticed that tour players are very particular when it comes to replacing their ball on the green after it has been marked. This is usually part of a putting routine that involves a specific placement of the ball prior to hitting the putt. Most often, they are taking care to aim the logo or marked line of the ball along their chosen line.
Although the logo on the ball can be used I have found that a line drawn on th ball is much more visible and easier to line up. Getting the mark exactly in the center is very difficult. Marking devices are relatively inexpensive and well worth the cost and will guarantee a center line mark on the ball.
The next time you head out to play or practice, try experimenting with lining up the logo or marked line. Start by practicing 2 or 3 footers to ensure that your aim is true. If you have aligned properly, you will see the logo turning straight over the top of the ball as it falls into the hole. Once you are comfortable with these short putts, begin to practice from longer distances.
Putting: "Go For the Circle"
This is where it all happens, the putting green. The old adage of "You drive for show and putt for dough" is so very true. We all fall victim to the three-putt sometimes, and heaven forbid the four-bagger every once in awhile. There is nothing that will add to your score faster, and turn that 87 into a 90, than the three putt. It happens, even touring pros do it every now and then, but here's a way to prevent it.
One thing that most teaching pros agree on is that while practicing long putts, it's a great idea to visualize a 3-foot circle around the cup and try only to stay within that perimeter. The idea here is that keeping the ball within this 3-foot circle of the cup will give the player an easier second putt, and greatly reduce the chances of three-putting the hole. Spend time putting the ball to this imaginary circle from 30', 40', even 60 foot distances to familiarize yourself with the stroke and distance control needed to get the ball close.
Practicing this visualization method is easy. Most Golf courses and driving ranges have practice greens set aside exclusively for putting and chipping, so utilize them when you can. Once you are proficient at the art of putting the ball within three feet each time, you'll find that your scores will drop significantly, and three-putts are much less frequent.
PUTTING: "How to manage downhill putts"
A downhill putt can be one of the most difficult -- and intimidating -- shots in golf. Here are a few tips to help you manage these putts more effectively:
On a long downhill putt, it's better to be past the hole than to come up short. If you are short, you'll just leave yourself with another ticklish putt. It's easier to make a 6-footer uphill than a 3-footer downhill. If you miss the first putt, be sure to watch where it breaks after it passes the hole so you'll have an accurate read for your comeback putt.
For short putts on a severe downslope, an effective trick is to pick a spot on the green short of the hole, and try to get the ball to stop at that spot. When you trick your mind, it's easier to make a tiny stroke, which is all you need on this type of putt.
Wind and grain also influence downhill putts, though most recreational players don't consider these factors when they're reading the green. A strong tailwind and a putt with the grain will make downhill putts roll even faster.
PUTTING: "Cross Handed Grip Can Cure the Yips"
When a player has a case of the yips, he or she is experiencing involuntary movements of the hands or wrists. This occurs almost exclusively on short putts, about five feet or less.
One cure for the yips that players have used over the years is the cross-handed putting grip. This grip is also known as "left hand low" because the left hand is placed below the right hand -- opposite of the traditional grip for a right-handed player.
The purpose of the cross-handed grip is to stabilize the left wrist, which frequently breaks down when a player is suffering from the yips. Without a firm left wrist, it is impossible to put a smooth, pendulum-like stroke on the ball.
Another advantage of the cross-handed grip is that it lowers the left shoulder, putting the player in a better starting position to make a true pendulum motion with the arms during the putting stroke.
If you are having trouble making a smooth stroke on short putts, give the cross-handed grip a try.
PUTTING: "The most overlooked fundemental"
How you hold the club is probably the most overlooked fundamental of golf. But it is very important, as it is the only connection the player has to the club.
A poor grip sets up a chain reaction of one inefficient move after another.
For right-handed golfers, place the handle of the club in the fingers of the left hand. Close your hand so that the heel pad of your left hand is on top of the handle.
A common mistake is to position the handle of the club too high in the palm of the left hand. When the club is too much in the palm, it is difficult to hinge the wrists properly during the swing.
Match your right hand to the left by putting the club in the fingers and pressing the lifeline of your right palm snugly against the left thumb.
The effects of holding the club too tightly can be disastrous to your golf shots. If you hold the club too tightly, you create tension that inhibits proper body motion. Conversely, holding the club too loosely fails to control the club throughout the swing.
Proper hand pressure is just tight enough to support the weight of the club throughout the swing. If you think of hand pressure on a scale from one to five, with one being the lightest possible pressure and five being the tightest, your hold pressure should be about three for most circumstances.
Improving how you hold the club might not feel comfortable at first, but it is one of the simplest things you can do to improve the quality of your golf shots.
MENTALLY PREPARED: "In the Zone"
Ever looked at one of your playing buddies and said, "Boy, you are in the zone!"?
We've all had the days we've been in that wonderful place. You beat everyone in sight. Any shot was easy. You didn't even think about your swing. Your feelings were totally within bounds. Every shot popped on command. We're talking "zone" here.
It's too bad these days don't happen more often, but these moments don't have to be rare. The good news is that you cannot make yourself get into the zone, so you can stop trying. The other good news is that you can create a normal psychology for yourself that promotes the zone.
Your belief plays an important role here. Obviously if you don't believe you can make a shot, you're in trouble from the getgo. This is why practice is more than working on your stroke. With practice comes not just skill but a KNOWING that you have the skill. When you know what you can do, and plan your game within those limits, then you are always in the zone in that you are maximizing your skills.You will probably find your self letting the swing happen instead of thinking about ten different thing and swinging the club. That's why a child can be in the zone even if they hardly have any skills. Being in the zone is all about KNOWING who you are and appreciating your own ability to live up to your PERSONAL expectations. That's the zone. Miracle shots? That's Michael Jordan territory. Your personal best? Zone time!
It is amazing how many golfers have not mastered the turn of the hips and shoulders during the swing and more importantly, the transfer of weight from the back to front foot on the follow through. If a player simply sways their weight back and forth without a turn, the club head ends up at any number of positions at impact, consistency becomes a real problem and you definitely restrict the power you can deliver to the ball.
Try taking a 7-iron, put your feet right together. Keep your feet hips and shoulders parallel to your target. Keep your weight back behind the balls of your feet. Now try to swing at the ball. If you have difficulty swinging without falling over, then your turn definitely needs some attention. You will find that you must turn your hips and shoulders together to hit the ball with out falling down. Initially, this is hard to do. Once you master this coordinated move, you will find you can hit the 7-iron almost as far with your feet together as you can with them apart. This is the rotation and weight transfer that you are looking for in all swings. The feet together drill only works with a 7-iron. Longer clubs are too hard to balance with. This will however give you the proper sensation to feel with all your clubs and improve your consistency and power.
SWING: SET UP "FINDING YOUR BALANCE"
To create a golf swing that produces consistency and power you must maintain balance throughout the entire swing. They key to achieving balance is to set up with your weight centered over the balls of your feet. By doing this you have set your legs up to feel lively and ready for action.
Many golfers make the mistake of setting up with their weight on their heels, thereby locking their lower bodies into a stationary position not ready to make an athletic move.
Here is how to find your proper balance point: standing tall with your feet spread apart shoulder width, bend forward at the hip joint and allow your rear to move slightly back. At this point your knees may be slightly locked. Now flex the knees slightly and this will allow your hands to hang under your chin and put your weight naturally onto the balls of your feet.
Where you bend is crucial to finding your balance. It is not a feeling of sitting down on a barstool. This would cause the weight to move back onto your heels. Practice finding your balance just a couple of minutes a day and it will start feeling very natural.
SWING: " Posture, balance are keys to improving swing"
Correct posture is the first step toward better balance and an improved golf swing. Here's a simple way to check if your posture is correct:
Take your address position with your arms hanging freely from your shoulders. Visualize a line that starts at your shoulders, follows your arms and extends to the ground.
If your posture is correct, the line should end just in front of your toes. If it ends too close to your body, your posture is too upright and you should bend a little more from the hips. If the line ends too far out in front of your toes, you are bending too much from the hips and have too much weight forward.
SWING: " Shift Weight for Power"
A right-handed player who stays back on his right side during the downswing will lose significant distance.
The weight shift to the left side needs to be strong enough that it initiates the downswing. If you stay on your right side too long, your club will bottom out behind the ball and you’ll contact the ball on the upswing, causing the ball to go higher, which will also cost you distance.
Try keying on your left hip to begin your downswing. Drive your left hip laterally toward the target to initiate the motion. This will put your body over, or slightly ahead of the ball at impact, producing a more “driving” ball flight.
SWING: "Proper posture is key to set up"
Because the hands, arms and club are highly visible throughout the swing, they get most of the blame for anything that goes wrong. However, it is important to understand that the hands, arms and club are only responding to what the body is or is not doing.
Swing performance can be improved with proper posture at address. In a good setup, you should be bent forward from the hips so that your arms are hanging from your shoulders. Your shoulder blades should be pulled back to “open up” your chest. This allows your hands to stay relaxed directly under your shoulders. This is easier to do when your lower abdominal muscles are strong, since these muscles support your lower back, pelvis and hips.
To maintain proper posture, remember two things: feel as though your shoulder blades are connected with a rubber band; and bow from the hips with your body weight balanced toward the balls of the feet.
SWING: "Good finish needs balance"
How you finish is almost always a good indication of how you swing.
In the finish position, almost all of your weight should be on the outside of your left foot (for right-handed players).
Your right foot should be up on the toes and facing the target. Your belt buckle also should face the target, and your right arm should be across your chest with your right shoulder under your chin.
Your hands should finish above your shoulders. If they don't, it probably indicates that your swing path is too flat, or your follow-through is incomplete.
Think "balance" and aim for a picture-perfect finish, and some of the problems you experience in getting there will fix themselves.
SWING: " How to deal with uneven lies"
The key to hitting the ball well off uneven lies is to try to simulate a flatter condition as much as possible or reasonable.
This is accomplished by altering one or more of the following: club selection, set-up, grip and swing.
Here are some general guidelines to follow:
* Use one extra club because the ball will go higher.
* Play the ball slightly forward in your stance.
* Tilt your shoulders to match the slope of the ground.
* Make an extra effort to shift your weight forward through impact, as the slope will tend to make you fall back.
* Use one less club because ball will go lower.
* Play the ball slightly back in your stance.
* Tilt your shoulders to match the slope of the ground.
* Swing smooth and easy to help hold your balance.
Sidehill lie (ball above feet):
* Use same club and ball position as you would for a flat lie.
* Aim slightly to the right of your target.
* Choke up on the grip one to two inches.
* Put your weight slightly toward your toes at address.
* Make an extra effort to follow through in balance.
Sidehill lie (ball below feet):
* Use same club and ball position as you would for a flat lie.
* Aim slightly to the left of your target.
* Grip the club all the way to the top.
* Sit back slightly on your heels at address.
* Make an extra effort to follow through in balance.
Harvey Penick once said that the most important piece of advice he could give a student was to "take dead aim." What he meant in those three simple words was that in the last few seconds before you hit the ball, block everything out of your mind and focus your attention on the target.
"Once you address the golf ball," said Penick, "hitting it has got to be the most important thing in your life at that moment. Shut out all thoughts other than picking out a target and taking dead aim at it."
This can be a powerful tool. Clearing the mind of all thoughts except the thought of the target frees the muscles to do their job. At this point your imagination is stronger than your will power, and your body will do what your mind tells it to do. You have no doubt, no fear. For those few seconds you are what you think, and your ball may well fly to the target despite any setup and swing flaws.
Spend some practice time taking dead aim. Change targets and clubs often, and find what thoughts work best to ease your tension and focus your mind. Resist the urge to worry about your swing when you hit a stray shot, and you will soon become as mentally fine-tuned as your swing is sharp. Take dead aim with every swing, and trust yourself.
Today's bunker tip is advice taken from years of old. Many of the best tips have been around for decades and for good reason. You have no doubt heard that when hitting a bunker shot your club should not hit the ball directly, but rather enter the sand 2 inches behind the ball and let the cushion of sand carry the ball out. This is sage advice and a great tip, but many golfers have difficulty hitting the sand consistently in the same place. They either hit the sand too far behind the ball and leave the ball in the bunker, or catch it thin and send it over the green. While I still think that hitting the sand 2 inches behind the ball is correct, it is not enough to know what to do. You also need to be willing to invest some time in your bunker game and to know how to practice effectively.
The best drill I have seen for learning how to control where your club enters the sand is to practice using a line drawn in the sand. Before you hit any practice shots draw a straight line in the sand about 3 feet long. Then practice by hitting the line (without a ball) and you will be able to see where your club is entering the sand. When you have learned to hit the line every time, put a ball in front of the line and keep practicing. Focus on hitting the line and not on hitting the ball and you will find that the cushion of sand will carry the ball out with ease.
PRACTICE: "Make practicing like playing a round of Golf"
Golf is a game that requires lots of practice. But showing up at a practice range and mindlessly hitting ball after ball is not usually productive.
If you have a difficult time focusing on the range, try playing an imaginary round of golf during your practice time. For example, visualize a 400-yard, par-4 hole with a fairway bunker at 220 yards out on the left side of the fairway. Use a driver or 3-wood for your first shot. Remember, you can get only one swing.
After you honestly assess your shot, choose a club for your approach to the green. Make your shot right there on the range and, again, be honest about the result. If you decided you pushed your approach about 20 yards to the right of the green, pick out a target and try to hit your pitch shot within about 20 feet of that target. Give yourself two putts and a bogey.
Play different holes in your head this way and it will add a little spice to your practice. You can even take a real scorecard from your favorite course to the range and play an entire nine- or 18-hole round like this.