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Drop 5 Strokes in 10 Weeks

For the majority of America's golfers, winter represents a time of great loss. Courses begin to close as the weather turns cold, and even the most impervious players are obliged to take hiatus from the game. If you aren't lucky enough to live in or travel to a warm and playable winter climate, the months between November and April may seem bleak indeed. There is hope, however! GOLF MAGAZINE has created a 10-week Practice Plan that will help you reach top form by spring, and all you need is a range, two afternoons a week, some patience, and a passion for improvement.

In order to get the best results from our Improvement Plan, you must commit to at least two days of practice per week, for 90 minutes per session. You will notice that our 10-Week Practice Plan features seven weeks devoted to your 100-yard-in game. This may seem unbalanced, but if there is one thing that talking with the GOLF MAGAZINE Top 100 Teachers has taught us, it's that focusing on the perfection of your short game will produce the most noticeable results for long-term improvement. Putting and chipping well are the keys to saving par and avoiding bogey or worse, and with our plan, you'll likely be putting for birdie instead. Let's get started!

Note: Begin each practice session with an effective stretching session, and 10 smooth swings with your pitching wedge. Follow that by repeating 5 shots using the club from the previous session.

Week 1: Putting
The first step in our Improvement Plan is short putting practice. This is the foundation of your golf game. If you can gain confidence with your short putting, you'll be able to be more aggressive on longer putts, and therein, create more birdie opportunities.

Day 1 - What To Do
Start from three-feet. Don't pick a putt with break-make sure to choose a flat surface, even if you don't have a real green to work with. The goal of this drill is to develop a rapport with your putter and acquire a feel for short putting. Use 3 balls, and make 21 putts in a row from three feet. Then, make 9 from 6 feet, 6 from 10 feet, 6 from 15 feet, and 3 from 20 feet. These putts do not have to be made consecutively. Repeat this drill 3 times. You'll be amazed at how much more easily the longer putts go in after beginning with the shorter ones. This is also a great putter warm-up before a round.

Use This Tip
Always place an identifying mark on your ball (it's in the Rules). Use this mark to align your ball along the intended line of putt by positioning the mark parallel to your line. Now you have a reference point to get your putterface pointed in the right direction. Then, sole your putterhead on the ground and align the face so that the top edge makes a perpendicular with the mark on you ball. This ensures that your putter will start your ball on the correct line after contact.

Day 2 - What To Do
Repeat the drill from Day 1. After you sink your three 20-footers, try to two-putt 6 times in a row from 25, 30, 40, and 60 feet.

Use This Tip
Make sure that you're consistently getting the ball to the hole. Use your feet as an acceleration guideline. No matter how far back you take the putter, always follow through past your left toe. This will ensure that you are consistently accelerating through the ball.

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