By Dave Pelz
Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dave Pelz, one of the foremost short game and putting instructors in golf, offers schools and clinics across the U.S. Click here to find out more information.\n

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Q I generally putt with a shoulder-width stance. If I swing my putter to my back foot, I usually roll the ball about 20 feet. On shorter putts I'll stand with my feet closer together. Here, my back-foot swing length gives me about six feet of roll. Is it OK to change stance width like this to get the right distance?

A If you always putted on level greens with the same green-speed, your idea of adjusting stance width with putt length might work. But since greens vary in speed and contour, it's best to keep as many things constant as you can. Instead of messing with stance width, adjust the length of your backswing to the length and speed of your putt (through-swing slightly longer than backswing). Think "short strokes for short putts, long strokes for long putts." Make good practice strokes until you see and feel one you think will roll your putt the right distance, then putt with it. With a little practice, your touch will sharpen up.

Q I have read about the need to hit down on the ball using a "V-shaped" swing. Is this good advice?\n

A I don't like what I see in my students when they try to make V-shaped swings. It forces a hands-oriented swing, so don't try it. The key to executing a descending blow is catching the ball on the downward portion of your natural swing arc, before it reaches bottom. You can do this by checking the divot of your practice swing. If the practice divot starts behind the ball, move the ball back in your stance, so you'll hit it first.

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