Instruction

How to Putt for Birdie Every Time

Photo: Bob Atkins

Yellow: Your target area <br /> Red: Pro target area

This story is for you if...

• You often miss greens after driving the ball in the fairway
• You always aim at the flagstick on your approach shots...
• ... because you figure, "That's where the hole is, right?"

THE SITUATION
You're in the fairway, staring at a center-cut pin with your favorite club in your hand. You take aim dead at the flagstick and miss the green wide by 10 yards.

WHAT YOU SHOULD HAVE DONE INSTEAD
Selected a much bigger target than the flagstick. When you pick such a precise landing area, you put pressure on yourself and tend not to swing freely. You'll hit more greens if you apply the following logic to your approach shots.

STEP 1
At the range, select a target you can easily reach with your 7-iron. Make it specific, like a yardage flag or a brown patch of grass.

STEP 2
Hit five balls at the target, and count how many land within a yard of it. If you land one ball or less within a yard, the flag is too narrow a target for you.

STEP 3
Stretch your target area to five yards on both sides of the flag and hit five more balls. Keep stretching your target area five yards at a time until you can land three out of five balls in the target zone.

Take this target width to the course and lay it over the pin on every approach shot. This gives you a realistic landing spot that will allow you to stay loose both mentally and physically as you prepare to play your approach. In addition, your overall confidence will rise when you hit your target more often. There's just one catch: If any part of your target zone falls over trouble or off the green, move it so that your target is entirely on the green.

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