Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dear Top 100 Teacher, One of my main problems in my golf game is in my putting distance control, I am always hitting it too hard. How can I fix this? Alec M., Orting, Wash.

Hi Alec,

If you look at all great putters they have a few things in common. They
all have repeatable, rhythmical swings, and they all can control
distance and direction. Distance control is a major factor in all short-game shots and especially putting.

The distance a putt travels is governed by two major factors: 1)
Solidness of contact and 2) Clubhead speed. All putters have a sweet
spot near the center of the face.When the ball is struck on the sweet
spot you get a consistent roll with no twist in the putter face. Any
off-center shots (that is, not on the sweet spot) deaden the blow.
So the first thing to do is find the sweet spot on your putter. Take your putter and lightly hold the
grip with your thumb and forefinger of your left hand
and extend your left arm to about shoulder height. With the club
hanging take a golf ball and start tapping the center of the putter's
face with the ball. Keep tapping the face until you find a spot that
has no vibration or twist in the face. That's the sweet spot. If your
putter has an alignment aid and it does not match the sweet spot -- or if
there is no line on your putter -- add a line or dot on the top edge of
the putter with a Sharpie.
Most modern putting strokes have one power source: the shoulders. When you move the putter with your
shoulders, your arms and wrists maintain their angles and your stroke
becomes a pendulum motion. The big muscles of your shoulders move more
slowly than the small muscles of your hands, wrist and arms, which means a shoulder-powered stroke is easier to repeat. Distance
control is achieved by having a stroke that is the same length back as
through, with a constant beat. Imagine you have a metronome with you.
Then take the putter in your right hand only and start making practice
swings that are the same length back as through and match the beats of
the metronome in your head. For shorter putts, make a shorter
back-and-through motion with the same beat. For longer putts longer
strokes back and through with the same beat.
Now set up to a ball
and putt to a target retaining the beat and same back-and-through
technique. If you can hit the ball on the sweet spot with a rhythmic
stroke you are well on your way to becoming a first-rate putter.

Best,Gale Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Gale Peterson teaches at the Sea Island Golf Learning Center in St. Simons Island, Ga.

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