By Megan Padua
On the putting green, speed is more important than aim, and it's a vital part of being an excellent putter.
The speed of a putt dictates how much it'll break. The diameter of a golf hole is 4.25 inches, and the speed of the putt can effectively narrow or widen the circumference of the hole. Too much speed will limit your break, which can cause your putt to lip out because your target is smaller. Do you ever hit putts that track directly towards the hole only to lip around the edge and miss? Even if your aim is slightly offline, a ball that travels at the correct speed can curl over the edge and into the hole. Optimizing this zone by using effective speed control can, in essence, help you putt to a larger cup. If you can putt your ball at the correct speed, you will get "lucky" more often!
How to Practice: When honing your speed control, take the hole out of the equation. Remember, your objective is to control your speed, not to make a long putt. You're far better off putting to an old cup (as shown, to the left) to see if you would've made it, while also learning how far your ball would've rolled past the hole if you had missed it.
Towel Drill: Lay out towels at different distances (as shown, below). Don't be concerned about landing your ball on the towel, however try to make your golf ball stop within the zone that you've established.
By Megan PaduaSince the clubface controls where the golf ball will go, it's important to set up square to the target line.
The shape of some clubs can make this challenging. If you look at the image to the left, when the face is square, the leading edge, indicated by the red line, is parallel with the stick on the ground. If the club is in the correct position at address, the shaft should lean slightly forward, so it's ahead of the white stick. This is the way the club was designed, but many golfers confuse the purpose and try to make the shaft look centered (in line with the white stick) causing them to sacrifice the position of the face. So the next time you practice, lay down an alignment rod on the ground. If you set it down correctly, the butt of the club should lean forward of your belt buckle on all shots, as shown below.
By Megan PaduaOne of the biggest mistakes golfers make in their short game is trying to help the ball up in the air by flipping their hands. Releasing the club head too early can lead to chucked shots, topped shots or even whiffs.
Try this simple drill to get rid of the dreaded flip: Next time you're at the gym, grab two kettle bells in either hand. If you don't have access to kettle bells, you can imagine the weight of two kettle bells in both hands as your arms hang in front of you. Slowly swing your arms back and through, allowing the weight to keep your hands quiet and passive.
Notice in the picture that my lead wrist remains flat through impact while holding the kettle bells. Now take your golf club in your hands, and make the same motion. Pretending to hold the weights, the objective is to hit a chip and hold a low finish as you did while holding the weights. Hitting "kettle bell chip shots" will teach you to let the club do the work.
By Megan Padua
To sharpen your feel around the green, you need to learn to visualize a shot before you execute it. Since this skill requires practice, I ask my my students to do a drill called, "Rehearse and Recreate."
Start on a putting green to master the basic rolling motion, then move back to experiment with various short game shots. When selecting the type of shot to hit around the green, think of tossing it with your hand. Rolling the ball and keeping it low to the ground is easier than trying to throw the ball up high and make it stop by the hole.
Rehearse It: Take a ball in your trail hand and roll or toss it to the hole depending on the shot you've imagined. Notice how far you swing your arm back and through and observe the break on the green. For short game shots, picture the trajectory of the shot and the ratio of how far the ball flies to how much it rolls. As you begin to see the ball react to the surface of the green, you'll learn to see the shot vividly with your imagination.
Recreate It: Now that you have a picture in your mind, use a club to recreate the roll or toss that you just rehearsed. Have an idea of the shot that you'd like to hit, commit to it, and make it reality.
By Megan PaduaYou're allowed to carry up to 14 clubs, and each one is a different tool that'll help reach your best results. But many golfers don't know how far or how high each of these clubs go. The next time you're unsure, try this trick with an iron or a wedge to better understand how far and how high it might launch:
Step on the clubface to see the angle created by the shaft. If you make solid contact, the ball will take off at this trajectory.
The golf club was designed to get the ball in the air, don't try to help it up. Using this drill, compare two of your irons and analyze the trajectory of both. The shot that goes higher will also go shorter, and the club that produces a lower flight will carry farther.
By Megan PaduaYour golf swing is the outcome of the way you set up to the ball. Many golfers want to become more consistent, but that's impossible if you're not repeating your setup.
The "1-2-3 Setup" is a process I use to introduce the pre-shot routine. Feel free to add or subtract steps to the setup process to make it work for you.
Step 1: Measure to the Ball. Once you've taken your grip, step forward with your back foot and tilt from your waist. Inch in until you reach the correct distance from the ball. Approach the ball from behind the line (see image).
Purpose: Concentrate on the placement of your hands. Stepping in with your back foot helps you find the correct distance from the ball, balance and posture. During this step you're also setting the alignment of your body and club.
Step 2: Ball Position. Place your front foot to determine the correct ball position for the club you're using. In the picture, I'm using a driver, therefore I take a small step just left of the line. The shorter the club, the more I play the ball in the middle of my stance. It's important to know, however, that ball position is unique for everyone. Find what works for you, then use this routine to make it consistent.
Purpose: Indicate the correct ball position.
Step 3: Stance Width. Take a step with your back foot to determine how wide your stance should be. I use a narrower stance for shorter shots and a wider stance as my swing gets longer to create a solid base. Think of a pyramid -- you want your base to be the widest part to form a strong foundation for full swings.
Purpose: Establish the stance and determine the stance width.
A good pre-shot routine will help you repeat your setup and hit more consistent shots. Having an efficient routine will allow you to play faster because your execution will be more precise and better quality shot-making will save countless strokes.
By Megan PaduaThis is my favorite drill to improve your understanding of the clubhead: Flip the driver around, holding the opposite end on the shaft. With the grip end closest to the ground, swing the club with a normal motion ten to twelve times. Listen for the "swoosh" sound. After completing the set of repetitions, flip the club back around, place your hands on the grip and take a few swings. The weight of the club will feel much different, and you'll instantly become more aware of the clubhead's position.
Speed Training: You can pick up more clubhead speed by alternating between this drill and swinging a weighted club. (If you don't have a weighted club, grab two clubs and swing them together.) The variation between the different weights will get you to swing your club faster.
Posture, an essential part of the golf swing, is often overlooked. Too many people think that to hit down on the ball, they must bend a lot from their knees. But bending from the waist with just a slight knee bend allows the club and arms to swing down more freely. Excessive knee bend will only make it more challenging to reach the ground.
To help my students understand this concept, I often put them on a 3-inch platform and ask them to hit down (photos, above). I ask them, "How would you hit down if you were 3 inches taller?" From this elevated platform, maintaining the correct posture enables the arms to extend, while poor posture prohibits a downward strike.
Here's a posture drill (images, below) that'll help you get into the perfect position (do it in front of a mirror to see the difference in your form): Hold a golf club down your back and move your head back until it touches the shaft. Tilt over a little bit from your waist with a slight flex in the knees and keep your head against the club. Take the club into your hands as if you're addressing the ball while maintaining the posture from the drill.
Posture is a key component in taking your game to the next level.
By Megan PaduaMost golfers tend to place their golf grip in the palm of their hands. As a result, it's difficult to create leverage during the swing. Here's a quick tip that will get your grip more in the fingers of your hands:
Hold a tee between your thumb and pointer finger. As you do this, your golf grip will shift out of your palm and into your fingers. You want to see at least two knuckles in your lead hand (left hand, for right-handed golfers), and your grip should rest under the pad of your hand nearest to your pinky finger.
Getting the grip in your fingers and out of your palms allows you to hinge the club, thereby putting your hand in a more powerful position. Grip changes are never comfortable, but if you stick with this adjustment you will be on your way to hitting more solid shots with less effort.