Is putting about putting the aiming the ball at the hole…or is it about finding a line on the way to the hole.

Maybe it is about having a straight back swing so you don’t miss-hit the putt.

I have heard various techniques for not only practicing putting, but theories on what separates a good putter from a bad one.   I have come to my own early life golf conclusions, some may not be relevant to you, but for me they are relevant.

(1) Visualize the path the ball will follow

Go through the path of the putt in your head.  See it go in and pick out the part of the cup you envision the ball going in.  It is not going to go directly in the front most of the time (unless you are playing mini-golf) so play the angles.   If you are way off one time, think of where you are off…maybe your mental physics are playing mind tricks on you.

(2) Pick a spot 5 feet into that path

Sometimes it could be a leaf, a blemish in the green, or a shadow.  Follow your path through the hold and pick a spot 5-7 feet into that path.  If you are within 7 feet, pick a spot 50% of the distance…in this case, 3.5 feet away.

Stick to that path.  Sometimes when you stand over the ball, the hole looks completely different and you are enticed to change your putting “point”.  Your last instinct is usually incorrect…follow your calculated, and much more thought out originally putting spot.

(3) Have the same set-up everytime

For me, I have the same practice swing for my putting every time.  I line up the ball visually, I pick a spot, I line up my putter where I want the ball to go, then I take to practice swings to get the weight and speed of the putter down.  This set-up leads to consistency…and if you are hitting putts with consistency, you want to keep this process the same.

  • same way you walk up to ball
  • same number of practice swings
  • same way you address the ball

Note: You should do this even on short putts as nothing really is a “gimme”

(4) Get a feel for the weight of the putt ahead

During your practice swing, make sure you visualize yourself hitting the ball as per the distance the ball will travel.  Take the practice swing as though you are going to putt the ball 2 feet past the hole.  This will allow you to get a feel for the swing before you hit the ball and I have found this can make a big difference between hammering the ball too far, coming up short, and even prevent you from mishitting your putt.

(5) Hit the ball hard enough to make it to the cup

Unless you have a downhill putt ahead, go for the cup.  You rarely see pro’s come up short on anything under 10 feet..sometimes they have a 5 footer left if they miss the putt…but that is OK.  Give yourself a chance or you will see many one putts within your round of golf.  There is nothing worse than having a birdie putt from 6 or 7 feet and having it end up on the lip of the cup…waiting for a strong wind to blow it in.

(6) Don’t try to remove too much break on short putts.

It is unnatural to drill putts into the hole…many people try to teach you this.  I tried it…didn’t work.  I have friends that still try to remove the break but their putting suffers because of it.  Putt the ball naturally as though you are trying to get it in.  Don’t try to hammer a 3 footer home just to remove the break because sometimes the break will still be there.   If you don’t have fun going from a 3 feet putt, to a 7 footer after your miss.

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I have gone over the last 6 months from being the KING of 3 Putts, to the KING of one putts.  I do what I stated above and it seems to work for me.  As for the rest of my game (irons, driver and sometimes short game), it could still use some work.

Kyle.

PS.  I am not even close to becoming a scratch golfer yet. :(

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Thursday was a golfing Marathon.  I hit the links with T-mo, also a member at Bear Mountain at 3:25 hoping to get in a round.  First round was not all that great…

I shot a 95…honestly, no warm can have a huge impact on the game.  I had 5 minutes to stretch, and hit 5 balls at the range.  This can lead to a breakdown on the front 9, a loss of focus, and a couple really bad shots that can ruin the phsyche for the rest of the round.

Nonetheless, 95 was the end result.  I shot a 51 on the front and a 44 on the back 9 of the valley course.

Then something amazing happened…

T-mo and I decide to catch another 9 holes on the valley.  It was still light out and we thought we could fit in another 9 with no issues.

We did.

I shot a 43 on the front and Tyson shot a 37 (2 over).

Sho0ting a 2 over par, we decide to finish the round.  Problem was, it was getting dark and difficult to see the ball.  What did we do.  Played speed golf.  We were literally running to the ball to get in our next shot.

Something brilliant came out of this.

We started nailing greens.  Although we were not focusing, we were also not focusing to hard and thinking about hitting the bunker or the water hazard.  We would step up with a normal stroke just thinking about hitting the ball.  That CURRENT SHOT was our focus.

This lead me to the conclusion once again that golf is a hugely mental game.  You don’t need to be some freak athlete to be good at it, you don’t need to hit the ball a mile, you don’t even need to hit every green.  You need to hit the ball straight, stay away from the hazards, hit a couple of putts here and there, and lose the negative thoughts.

If you think about the bunker, you are probably going to hit it.  How many times have we been worried about hitting a water hazard only for the ball to plunk right in the drink.  That is our own negativity that is causing this.

When we took the component of worry out of the game (because we had to rush through the round) we found ourselves hitting the ball.  It became second nature and our lack of “over processing” each situation led is to just hittin’ the ball.

I shot my best round on the back, with a 39 and ended up with an 82.  Tyson shot a 41 on the back, ending with a 78!

A good day on the links and I have reached a break through being 10 strokes off my goal of 72.  Will it happen before next year?  I hope so but I have a lot of work to do and a lot of bad shots to erase from my memory.

Cheers,

Kyle

It may be a little more realistic and achievable.  I said in my last post, golf is 80% mental…and I still agree.

Frustration is an understatement when you shoot a 54…double pars and triple bogeys were coming out like they were going out of style today.  I finished with a 99 on the valey with a respectable, but nothing special back 9.  I had one birdie and missed a ton of 3 foot putts.

So…

If I am not getting any better…what will it take.  Do you have to get worse at golf at something before you get better?

I guess I will find out.  I play again tomorrow…
MY GOALS FOR TOMORROW’S ROUND:

(1) 2 or less 3 putts
(2) Hit less than 3 balls out of bounds off the tee
(3) Hit at least 5 greens in regulation

Not all that ambitious, but I need to start somewhere after consecutive horrible rounds.

Kyle

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I mean, common…how much athletic ability do you need.

If you have a half decent back, a decent swing, a little bit of strength, and a consistent motion, you should be good right?

No.

Being an athlete is not enough.

In fact, I would disagree that being a good golfer is good enough (good at hitting the ball).

Being focused is most of the battle.  The problem with most people is they hit a bad shot, they get frustrated, and their round falls apart.  I fall victim to this problem as well, except my game usually falls apart on the first hole, the frustration sets in and I spend the rest of the round dealing with my conscience.

Can I hit pars?  Yes, every round.

Can I get birdies.  Yes, ALMOST every round.

Do I get lots of bogeys and double bogeys…damn right.   But this is a result of lack of focus.

Let’s look at a a couple of scenarios that happened last round.  I shot a 92 on the Valley course (par 71) with a 42 front and back.  I hit 6 shots out of bounds off the tee box on the front 9, but was able to turn this around on the back.  The reason…I thought about the ball going straight.  That’s freakin’ all I changed.  Didn’t change my swing, I changed the way I thought about my shot.

Anyways, I want to discuss the mental aspect of 2 different holes.  One birdie.  One triple bogey.

Birdie. This was on a Par 5, 510 yard, 12th hole.  I stepped up to the ball on the tee box thinking about my last straight drive and instead of focusing on “not slicing’ I focused on hitting the ball to the left side of the fairway.  Sure enough, straight drive…left me about 230 yards to the green.  I pulled out my 5 wood with confidence thinking about hitting the green…I had to thread the needle between two bunkers, but I was able to hit the green in 2..putting for eagle from about 25 feet.

I managed to put my first left to right putt within 3 feet (putting it inside the barrel), setting up a birdie put.  All I could think about was it going in and it did.

Triple Bogey. This was also on a par 5, #15 that plays around 520 yards.  Makeable in 2 shots, but not all that common.  First shot I as common of a par on the prior Par 3 hole…but I was distracted.  I saw the water to the left and instead of thinking about going down the middle of the fairway, I thought about putting away from the water.  I also thought about my last out of bounds shot last time I played this hole.  Sure enough, I was away from the water rolling out of bounds into a wooded hazard.

So, shooting my 3rd shot from about 260 away…no chance of hitting the green, but being cocky, I hoped to hit it a little harder and get it close.  I over-swung the ball with my 5 wood and topped it another 100 yards into a creek.  Another damn drop.  Now I am 170 years from the hole, shooting 5.  I pull out my 7 iron and put it just short of the green.  A chip onto the green and a 2 putt, and I have a nice solid triple bogey.

As the famous golfer Nick Faldo states, work in the present.  I found myself thinking  about past holes, and “dont’s” instead of “do’s” and thinking in the present tense.  This made the difference between a birdie and a triple bogey…slight mental changes make a big difference.

Focus I believe is close to, if not 90% of your golf game.  If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be able to “think” my ball into going straight or think my ball into going into the bush.

Like Nick Faldo states, you don’t walk around thinking about “how to avoid the bush”…you just walk and naturally avoid it.  The same goes for golf.

Cheers,

Kyle

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A slice in golf is the most common issue people have shooting from the tee.  There are many reasons and many different types of swings that can incur a slice, but there also has to be a way to fix a slice.

I have noticed over the past month or so that my slice comes and goes.  This to me indicates that a slice is 10o% preventable and 100% curable.  So today before my round, I am going to set out to see what I can do to fix my slice.   It will be a true trial and error.  I am also going to be doing something different though…

Trying to figure out HOW TO slice.

If you can figure out not only the prevention, but the cause, then I think that I will be able to manage a “come and go” slice much better.

Here are a few things I am going to look out for when looking to fix my slice:

(1) Speed of back swing
(2) Club face positioning (set up for a draw)
(3) Wrist position (forward or even with the shaft)
(4) Distance form the ball (closer or further away)
(5) Angle of backswing (elbow tighter to body prevents slice)
(6) Ball position (right edge of my front heel vs. middle of my stance)

Obviously this is a bit much to be thinking about all at once, but I will piece together one at a time.  The key is to get to a point where the thought process is removed, but you have to hit the ball straight and have a consistent regime going into hitting the ball before you can do this.

They say hockey players are always better golfers than baseball players.  Fortunately for me I no longer play baseball, but I grew up playing baseball.  I know a good portion of my slice game is a derivative of my baseball swing.  Hopefully I can overcome this slice…I have before and I will again.

I will record and detail the process of “how to fix a slice” if I am able to accomplish it.  Again, my goal for today is less than three 3-putts and being able to hit 5 greens in regulation.

Cheers,

Kyle

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Today before I went out to play my round at the mountain course, I made my goal to limit my 3-putts to a maximum of 3 holes.  In late July I moved from my old, outdated putter to something a bit heavier and a bit more control.  scotty cameron fastback no 1.5 putter

I got the Scotty Cameron FastBack putter.

So far so good.  It feels much better, and after playing with a putter that was probably too light for me, it has taken a little getting used to.

Anyways, today I made a conscious effort to limit my 3 putts.  Sometimes you have to truly consider a goal before you can accomplish that, and I have made that my conscious goal.

It really sucks having rounds that are riddled with 3 putts..I know that first hand I have rounds with 11 holes where I putted 3 times or greater.

What I do now is record the 3 of my putts by putting a little note beside each hole on the scorecard.   This way I can keep track of how bad or how good I am putting…I think it is important to keep a running tally so you need to know where to improve up.

So, back to my goal…was I able to achieve this today.

EMPHATICALLY, Yes.  It came as a bit of a shock, but I only had TWO 3-putts today…actually, one 3 putt and one 4 putt (from 10 yards away nonetheless).  I also had 7 one putts…unfortunately it was usually at the end of some serious recovery golf.

Setting this goal prior to going out to play worked.  I ended up playing 23 holes. on the Mountain Course at Bear Mountain.  I shot a 95 round…and on the remaining 5 holes I had 3 pars and 2 bogeys.

I play tomorrow, so hopefully I can have a better round.  My driver stunk up the show today…I had more slices than a loaf of bread.  Anyways, my goal for tomorrow is:

(1) 3 or less 3-putts

(2) Hit 5 GIR (greens in regulation)

Until then…
Kyle

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I know, this is an ambitious goal…

In fact, people may think I am crazy trying to shave an average of 23 strokes off of my game on a day to day basis.  However, I believe anything is possible and in GOLF, it is a matter for me not to hit the ball further, but to hit the ball straighter and with more consistency.

Actually, it is all about stringing shots together.  A solid hole and round consists of an good drive, mid range irons, short games, and last but not least, putting.

Here is how I am going to approach moving my handicap from 23 to 0.

I lose approximately 6 strokes per game due to penalty strokes.   I am going to aim to get this down to 2 out of bounds shots, shaving four strokes off my game. (-4 strokes)

I average 5 3 putts, and only 2 one putts.  If I can get my 3 putts down to 2 per round and if I can increase my one putts to 6 per round,  I will shave another 7 strokes of my round. (-7 strokes)

My game from 165 in suffers sometimes.  If I can brush up on this and start hitting more GIP (greens in play), in fact if I hit 9 out of 18 instead of about 4 which I am at now, I will shave another 5 strokes off my game. (-5 strokes).

OK, there is 16 strokes.  Where am I going to shave the remaining strokes off…

When the time  comes that I reach an average of 79-80 per round, I will focus on putting and GIP.   I believe that an additional 7 strokes can be gained there but increasing the one putts and also hitting my mid range irons with pure consistency.  Putting green, short game, and irons at the range will be my strategy then.

For now, one step at a time.  My average of 95 is hopefully going to be in the mid 80′s by October…

Kyle

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