The Local Knowlege


Are the greens aerated? You can still make a bunch of putts

By Jeff Patterson

After Labor Day passes, it seems course superintendents across the northern states are given free passes to aerate their greens. Never is it as important for your score (and your sanity) to have a putting stroke that produces a consistent end-over-end roll, and leaves mindless tap-ins at worst. Otherwise you'll leave too many strokes out on the course and storm off much angrier than you arrived. The happiest golfers, after all, are those who putt well.

In our October issue, which features Matteo Manassero on the cover, 50 Best Teacher Sean Foley and LPGA star Stacy Lewis both offer putting tips that have staying power, even past the time it takes for your bumpy greens to smooth out. You'd fare well listening to their advice so you can hear the ball rattle in for birdie this weekend.

foley_300.jpgFoley's message is that in order to get the ball to scare the hole, your wrists must stay steady. The left wrist, especially, can't break down: It's got to maintain the same angle it held at address. For some people the conventional putting grip they use doesn't make this uniformity very easy to achieve. Foley suggests trying all different types of hand positions, even more so if they keep your wrists out of dominating the stroke. In reality, the excuse of aerated greens is an opportunity to try a different technique without much consequence. The ball isn't going to react like it normally does, so why try to putt like you normally do, expecting the normal outcome?

Related: Sean Foley -- Which Putting Grip is Best?

Lewis, who's over at Hoylake this weekend playing in the Ricoh Women's British Open, is second on the LPGA Tour in putts per greens in regulation this year. She told Assistant Editor Stephen Hennessey that she uses the same putting drill every day to help her fine-tune her already prolific stroke. She hits 10-foot putts with two tees stuck in the green, one even with the ball and the other a sizable distance behind it to act as checkpoints and encourage a longer, free-flowing stroke. Too many people, she says, rush their stroke and jab at the ball. This is a death wish on bumpy greens because the ball hops off the face more than usual with this kind of contact and will get deflected by every uneven surface it hits. A pure roll, on the other hand, will have the ability to withstand irregularities in the surface up until a certain breaking point.

Related: Stacy Lewis -- Steal My Feel

One last tip: Play more break under these conditions. The way aeration holes are cut, they can work in your favor as they keep a pro-side-miss closer to the hole for a sure gimme. But if you were to miss low, the ball will continue to get battered farther and farther away from the hole on the path of aeration holes.