If you have been keeping up with my articles, you may have realized that I have not been giving too much â??instruction.â? This is because I do not believe in quick fixes, and without actually seeing your golf swing, itâ??s hard for me to help improve it. Most instruction articles, although correct in the information they give, are only good for a small percentage of golfers. So instead of providing information that may set you back, I have chosen to appease the masses and focus on the information that can help all golfers.
That being said, this month I want to focus on how you practice. You have probably heard this before, but I recommend you spend at least half of your practice time on short game. The simple reason for this is that in a typical round of golf, at least half of your shots will be made on or around the green. Here are some putting and chipping drills I would like you to use while you practice.
My guess is that when you practice putting, you probably drop two or three balls onto the practice putting green and putt from hole to hole until it is time to tee it up. While this is better than nothing, I prefer you spend your time on two aspects of putting â?? speed and direction.
Putting Circle: The first direction drill is the putting circle. For this drill, take 10 balls and circle them about 3 feet (one pace) around the hole. Your goal should be to make all of these putts in a row. If you miss one, start over until you make all 10 in a row. After you have made all of the 3-footers, move out to 6 feet and repeat the process.
10 from 3-10: This is a drill to help you improve you confidence on short putts through repetition. Again, we are going to use 10 balls and start with a straight 3-foot putt. (Use a tee if you would like to mark your starting point.) Just like the circle drill, you need to make 10 putts in a row from 3 feet before you can move to the next position. The big difference between this drill and the putting circle is that we are only hitting straight putts in order to build confidence. After you make 10 in a row from 3 feet, move back to 4 feet and repeat the process. Keep moving back one foot at a time all the way to 10 feet. I recommend you set a time limit for this drill and see how far you can get within that time.
String Drill: For this drill, you will need the following: four tees, two pieces of string (each about 6 feet in length) and eight golf balls. First, tie each end of the string to a tee and place the strings parallel to each other about 10 feet apart on the green. (When practicing speed control, I recommend using strings, club shafts or the edge of the green. From 30 feet, we will be lucky to make one out of 10 putts, so in reality, we are practicing missing. If your brain sees you missing putt after putt, then you will likely lose confidence and negate any good practice you have accomplished.) Now, take your eight golf balls and start about 20 feet from the closest string, perpendicular to the strings. Putt the first ball and try to get as close to the far string as possible. Next, putt the second ball and try to get as close to the closest string as possible. Repeat this process with the remaining six balls. Try varying this drill with uphill putts, downhill putts and side-hill putts to help you brain calibrate the distances by using your vision and touch.
Up and Down the Ladder: With the strings set up the same as they were for the previous drill, take your eight golf balls and place them about 10 feet from the closest string, perpendicular to the strings. For this drill, anything short of the close string and long of the far string is out of bounds, and you will have to start the drill from the beginning. So, for the first putt to â??qualify,â? it must get past the first string but remain short of the far string. Hereâ??s the kicker â?? each ball must stop short of the previous ball to qualify. In other words, if your first putt is hit halfway between the strings, then you must get the final seven balls in the first half of the grid. If at any time you hit a putt that travels past the previous putt, then you must start over again. Your goal is to get all eight balls in the grid. Repeat the process going up the ladder.
Towel Drill: For this short-game drill, you will need a damp towel and a handful of golf balls. First, place the damp towel about one pace on the green and in line with the hole you are aiming for. Next, take your golf balls and place them somewhere off of the green in line with the towel and the hole. The goal of this drill is to land the ball on the towel and have it finish in the hole. This drill will teach you how to control trajectory and spin by using different clubs in order to produce the amount of flight and roll necessary for each shot. Periodically move the towel and aim for different holes to force you to change clubs and shot selection, thus improving feel. You will find that if you focus more on where you want to land the ball and choose the club that will allow you to land the ball about one pace on the green and roll the rest of the way to the hole, you will become a more diverse short-game player.
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Colby Wollitz is a PGA-certified teaching pro at The Players Club of Henderson in Kentucky. If you have any questions on any of these drills or would like to set up a lesson, please contact Colby at Golf Plus in Evansville (812-477-7529).