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.
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I am a 9.0 and consistently shoot between 78 and 82, but I have too many problems with my putting. I can’t seem to shake the habit of taking a really long time to putt. I have tried to count down, control my breathing and even mentally not caring … I just can’t seem to pull the trigger. Subsequently I average 31 to 34 putts per round. Help!—Dennis Goode
You’ve got to establish your ritual for the last few seconds before you putt. Your ritual can take anywhere from six to 10 seconds, but it must be the same every time you putt. This means even for practice putts on the practice green as well as every putt on the golf course outside of kick-in range.
Your ritual will have a starting point which we call the trigger. After you have made a few practice strokes and are satisfied that your last one will roll the ball approximately the desired distance, consider that last practice stroke as a preview to the stroke you’re about to make. Now move in to your final address position for the putt and execute the trigger. Your trigger can be touching your putter down behind the ball, tapping your putter grip with your thumb, or any physical motion you feel comfortable with, but do only once before you putt and can be seen and felt by your body. After you execute the trigger you are only allowed to look at the hole once, look back at your ball once, take your putter back, and stroke through the ball. This ritual, assuming your trigger is putting your putter down behind the ball, would go to the cadence of a metronome as follows: putter down, look at the hole, look at the ball, backswing, through swing (down — look — look — back — through).
Establish the cadence of your ritual by counting 1 – 2 as you make practice strokes back and through. Back – through equals 1 – 2. Make sure both your long and your short strokes (for long and short putts respectively) flow with this same cadence and timing. Never stop in the middle of your ritual. Once you start you have to finish it. Practice this without a ball until you have memorized your ritual, then try it on your carpet at home after your preview stroke. When you learn to move from your preview stroke – and stroke your putt in the cadence of your ritual at home on your carpet, take it to the practice green until it feels comfortable. Then go to the golf course and see if you can’t make more putts!
Good luck and good putting to you
Our course just re-worked the green side bunkers, adding high steep lips to many of them. I handle these shots well most of the time, but in the mornings, when my usual foursome plays, the sand is wet from the sprinklers. Neither I nor any of my buddies can consistently navigate these high lips from the wet, compact sand. Any tips to help me and my fellow early birds? —Jeff Brown, Visalia, California
Wet sand transfers more energy, and has better friction with the ball as your club slides beneath it. For this reason shots come out of wet sand slightly lower and with more energy than from normal sand. To accomplish higher and softer shots from wet sand you must open the blade of your wedge more and aim a little more to the left. If the wedge you are using for this shot has too much bounce on it, you’ll need to get a wedge with less bounce so you can open it enough while still sliding under the ball. A sixty four degree wedge (or at least a 60Ã‚Â°) will probably be your best bet for these shots.
Good luck and good scoring to you
You can write Dave a question about your short game by e-mailing him at [email protected].