Make the Ones You Hate to Miss

By: Jamie Lovemark

A six-footer is by no means a gimme, but it’s still short enough that it stings when it doesn’t go in. To make more of these, start by locking in your speed. It’s the most important part of every putt. And when you assess speed, don’t just factor how fast the ball needs to roll to get to the front of the cup. Think about it: You’re not trying to be so precise with your putting that the ball falls in on its last rotation. So forget the front of the cup. You should be looking at a spot 1½ feet beyond the hole. You’ll still be in tap-in range if you miss, but now you know the ball is going to get there every time.

Once you’ve determined that spot, then you can read the break. Start by walking to the hole, and try to picture the line in your head, keeping in mind that it continues 18 inches past the cup. Typically a putt of this length isn’t going to break that much—unless your course is Augusta National.

To get my speed down, I often practice with a small silicone cover over the top of the hole. The ball rolls right over it. If you don’t have one, you can just putt over the location of an old cup like I’m doing here (see bottom photo). The point is to get the ball to stop at a consistent distance beyond the hole. After I hit a putt that rolls over the cup and stops where I want it to stop, I’ll put a dime down to mark that end point. Then I’ll stroke putts over the hole trying to get every one to stop on a dime, so to speak.

DEVELOP A SHOT CLOCK
Having a pre-shot routine is important, but that doesn’t mean only doing the same things before every putt. Just as important is the amount of time you take to do those things. It will make a big difference if there’s a consistent duration from setup to stroke—it gives you good rhythm and confidence. Another thing you should do before you hit a putt is to take one last look at your line of putt all the way to the hole and then back to your ball—but do it quickly. The longer you stand over the ball, the more likely you’ll start to psych yourself out that you might miss. Good putting is a lot more mental than physical. Not a lot can go wrong with your stroke on a six-footer—it’s a fairly short and quiet motion. If you can relax and trust in what you’ve done prior to the putt, your chance of rolling one in will go way up.

BE AN ATHLETE, NOT A ROBOT
If you struggle with these makable putts, it’s probably because you’re too focused on using perfect mechanics. I’ve got news for you, guys like me on the PGA Tour rarely set up and make a textbook stroke, yet the tour average for putts made from six feet last season was 70 percent. What I’m saying is, there are a lot of ways to get the ball to go in the hole.

Putting is extremely personal, but everyone should feel comfortable over the ball. I like when my arms hang freely, and I have a slight roundness to my back. As for the stroke, I don’t think about the length the putter moves back and through. Instead, I try to be as athletic as possible, meaning my process is to look at what I have to do—then react. If you’re shooting a basketball, you don’t think about how hard your arm has to move for the ball to reach the basket, you just look at the rim and let it fly. Try putting with that same mind-set. —With Keely Levins

 

Source: https://www.golfdigest.com/story/make-the-ones-you-hate-to-miss
Written by: Jamie Lovemark

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Be A Better Lag Putter And Control Your Distance

By: Butch Harmon

In golf, your instincts can get you into trouble. A good example is when you have a long putt. The tendency is to think you have to hit the ball harder than normal. That mind-set leads to a short backstroke and a fast flick on the downstroke. The result is usually poor contact—and a putt that never gets to the hole.

A better technique is to lengthen your backstroke but keep the pace of the motion the same. That produces more energy at impact—the longer stroke gives you smooth acceleration—and a better chance of catching the ball flush. It’s just like trying to get more distance on a full shot: Hitting the ball in the middle of the clubface is the best thing you can do to transfer energy into the ball. And the best way to lose energy? You guessed it—make a wild swing and mis-hit the shot.

To become a good lag putter, you might have to reconsider the way you think about the stroke. If you believe you should lock your arms and hands and simply rock your shoulders, you’re going to struggle from long distance. Lag putts require some play in the elbows and wrists. I’m not saying you should purposely hinge them, but you should let them react naturally to the motion. Lock those joints, and you can only make so much swing.

So get into your setup with a nice light grip, and maintain that pressure throughout the stroke. That will let you keep some softness in your hands and arms for a longer motion that has more momentum—and more power. Your lead wrist will naturally have a little cup or backward bend in it at address. Feel like that wrist flattens on the backstroke (above), and then the trail wrist flattens through impact. That’s how you create speed without forcing it.

“IF YOU’RE A STIFF-WRISTED PUTTER, YOU’LL STRUGGLE FROM LONG RANGE.”

PUTTING WOES? GET A NEW LOOK I’ve used the same putter for 20 years. I love it. The simple design and the dark finish against the white ball help me square it up. That’s not to say we always get along. If your putter goes cold, do what I do: Switch to something totally different. I’ll go to a big mallet head for a few rounds; for you, maybe it’s a blade putter. Point is, give your brain and body a new experience. You might end up sticking with the substitute—but keep your old pal close by.

 

Source: https://www.golfdigest.com/story/be-a-better-lag-putter-and-control-your-distance