New Year, New You
1 Percent Challenge: How to check an often overlooked putting fundamental
I can’t see the line today. I’m wiping across my putts. I’m mis-hitting the ball. These common putting complaints often come from one simple fundamental being off: your eyeline. During your stroke, if your eyes are too far over the ball, you’ll struggle to see the line properly and will tend to take the putterhead too far to the outside in the backstroke. The opposite is true if your eyes are too far inside the ball—you’ll tend to whip the putter to the inside and likely hit the ball off the heel. Before making any significant changes to your stroke, you need to dial in your eyeline.
The Solution: You need to get your eyes in the proper position for you and your stroke. Your proper eye position will largely depend on your eye dominance. If you are right-eye dominant, you will likely see the line best if your eyes are directly over the ball or barely inside. If you’re left-eye dominant, you should consider keeping your eyes just inside and behind the ball. The key, however, is practicing this consistently to make your setup second nature.
Today: Determine your eye dominance by holding both arms straight out and making a small triangle with your index fingers and thumbs. Find an object about 10 feet away and make sure it appears in the triangle window you’ve created. Now take turns looking at the object with just one eye. For one eye, you’ll still see the object, but for the other, the object will move outside of the triangle. The eye with which you can still see the object in the triangle is your dominant eye.
Next, take your putting setup with a ball on the ground. Once you’re comfortable, hold another ball directly between your eyes and drop it. Pay attention to where it lands, and adjust your eyeline accordingly. If you’re right-eye dominant, try to get the ball to drop directly on the ball on the ground or just inside it. If you’re left-eye dominant, you’ll want the ball to drop just barely inside and to the right of the ball on the ground.
And then … : Continue to check your eyeline for five minutes before each round of golf. You can either use the ball-dropping method or buy a putting mirror. There are many great mirrors which allow you to hit putts while checking where your eyes are.—Drew Powell
Day 22: Find the right shoes for you
Shoes are often thought of as apparel, but make no mistake: golf shoes are a piece of equipment. Your shoes are the only thing connecting you to the ground. Wearing a pair that doesn’t fit right can affect the amount of force you’re able to generate. They can cause you to slip, and the wrong size can cause discomfort and even injury.
The Solution: You want a pair of shoes that looks good, and you can still include style in your shoe choice. But to find the right pair of shoes, you need to think about your shoes as a piece of equipment.
Today: For a quick fix, if you have shoes with removable spikes, they probably need updating. You can change your spikes and improve your grip immediately. But more importantly, think about what you want from your shoes: Do you walk or ride? Walkers should look for lightweight shoes. Do you notice yourself slipping? Maybe you need a shoe with more grip. Do you play in a rainy climate? Find something waterproof. Is your foot wide, or narrow? Gather this information so that when you go to buy shoes, you can treat it like you would buying a piece of equipment.
And Then . . . : Get your foot measured. FootJoy found in a study that 70% of golfers are wearing the wrong size shoe. We all fall victim to the ease of ordering online, but go to your local pro shop or sporting goods store and have your feet measured to make sure you’re getting the correct size. And while you’re there, test the shoes like you’d test a club. If you’re at a location with a simulator or net, Director of Golf Experience for Golf Galaxy, Chris Marchini, says to ask to hit a few balls with the shoes on. He offers it to his customers, and says it has been for some a necessary aspect of the shoe-buying experience.—Keely Levins
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Day 21: Check your ball position
At the bottom of every golf swing is an arc. Track the movement of the clubhead, and you’ll quickly be able see it: The clubhead approaches impact from high to low, sweeping along the ground before hitting its low point, and traveling back up again into the follow through.Somewhere in between that process, the ball lies in between. That’s your ball position, and it’s incredibly important. If your ball sits too far back on that arc, and you’ll hit the ball too much on a descending blow. Play it too far forward, and you’ll hit too much up on the ball—if you manage to hit it before. If you’re looking for more consistency in your ball striking, the ball position is a good place to start.
The Solution: For the most part, golfers should aim to hit the ball on a slightly descending blow with their iron shots, and a slightly ascending blow with their driver. The easiest way to do this is by setting your ball position relative to your feet. The ball position should be in the middle of your stance with your mid irons and wedges, moving gradually up until it sits in like with your left heel with your driver.
Today: Grab a mid iron and a driver, then find a straight line, like a floor tile, in your house. Simply practice taking your setup with each club using that line as a check. Line up the clubface with the line in the middle of your stance with an iron, and off your left heel with a driver.
And then … : When you’re on the range, do the same drill by laying a club on the ground. It’s an easy go-to that you’ll be able to trust every time you’re on the range — and groove a good ball position when you’re on the course. —Luke Kerr-Dineen
More on the 1 Percent Challenge
Look, every golfer has big goals—30 more yards, 15 fewer pounds, tighter lines and better scores. We're not here to tell you those goals are out of reach. The problem with most New Year’s resolutions, though, is they start you at the foot of a mountain without a clear map to the top.
The Golf Digest 1 Percent Challenge, meanwhile, is meant to be both ambitious and achievable. None of the daily individual tasks will be so arduous that you'll need much time to cross them off your list. These are the type of modest improvements intended to make you just 1 better percent than you were the day before. But they’re also meant to provide you with a new skill that over time, can make a meaningful difference in your game.
The way it works is simple: Our team of expert editors in golf instruction, equipment and fitness have devised 23 challenges for each weekday in January that can be completed at home with minimal equipment. Things like checking your posture at address in the mirror, identifying yardage gaps in your club setup and testing the strength of your golf muscles. All of these challenges will have immediate value. But each challenge also comes with a suggested follow-up task that can lead to better habits, and ultimately, better performance.
It is the perfect way to get ready for the next golf season, even if you live somewhere where "real" golf is still months away. The more you follow along, the better your headstart on everyone else. —Sam Weinman