My keys for belly success

Sunday April 29th, 2012

Drills using belly and long putters have long been a staple of the Dave Pelz Scoring Game Schools. These clubs do a great job of helping golfers identify and correct two common and damaging errors: forearm rotation and wrist haning.

Although rotating your forearms through impact is a key part of hitting quality shots with your irons and woods, it's not good when putting. In addition to adding unwanted putterhead speed, forearm rotation increases the chances of hitting putts off line. As for wrist hinge, to many golfers see it as a viable way to stroke putts. It works okay in practice, but when you're on the course and the pressure of making a putt is very real, your wrists go from loose to tense, robbing you of feel and the ability to control speed.

In either case, you should give belly putting a try, because it'll help your short putting. Just make sure to take three tips from a man who's "been there" for many such test, and remember: The belly putter is not a panacea for all putts. You may struggle to get long putts close to the hole at first. If you're still not feeling it after practicing lag putts, commit to using two putters: the belly for short putts and a standard model for long ones. My research shows that putting is 43 percent of the average amateur's game, and you won't miss the long iron that the belly putter replaces.

STEP 1: BUILD A BASE
Make your stance three inches wider than normal. This will keep you body stable and prevent you from swaying.

STEP 2: USE YOUR GRIP
After tucking the butt of the grip into your belly, place your hands the same distance above the ground as you normally do with your regular putter, even if you putt with a left-hand-low grip. The key is to avoid the mistake of gripping the club at the top of the handle close to your belly. Just get comfortable and then take your hold.

STEP 3: ANCHOR IT IN
Since it's common for golfers to stub their takeaway when first putting with a belly model, raise the putterhead slightly off the ground by pulling the grip gently into your belly before you start your backstroke. Then match your stroke length to how far you need to roll the ball, and you'll be set to hole a lot more putts.

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