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.