Yesterday I went to the range with my 60-degree wedge and my putter. I started with the wedge.
1. Chipping off a downhill slope. I had no luck trying to finesse the ball downhill by sliding the clubface through the ball with the face open. Next I tried setting up with the ball just outside my right foot (that’s WAY back in the stance) and using a normal chipping stroke. That worked a lot better.
If you have a good way to hit this shot, please comment below.
2. Short pitches to tight pins. Open the clubface, set up to the left of the pin, aim the clubface at the pin, and slide the club under the ball, swinging along your stance line, keeping the clubhead low on the follow-through. Opening the clubface more or less will send the ball shorter or longer, respectively, with the same swing.
All that took about 45 minutes. On to the putter.
3. Practiced distance control using six balls. First, the short stroke, that goes about 15 feet. Hit all six without looking up. They will end up in a tight cluster if your stroke is consistent. Then a medium stroke, ~25 feet, and a long stroke, ~35 feet, again, hitting six balls into a cluster without looking up until the last ball is hit.
4. Practiced with my knitting needles. This is a good way to learn to square your putterface to the line and to make a stroke that goes along the target line.
5. Two-, three-, and four-foot putts with four balls. I measure this by hooking the putterhead inside the cup, laying the putter on the green, and placing a ball at (a) the end of the shaft, (b) the end of the grip, and (c) the end of the grip plus one shoe-length. Putt four balls laid down at N, E, S, and W. Repeat with balls laid down at diagonals to the first setup – NW, SW, SW, and NE. That’s 24 putts in all.
6. Breaking putts, using the Vector Putting method. 12-foot and three-foot putts to a hole on a slope, using the same scheme as in #5.
7. Lag putts, using a completely intuitive method of getting the speed right. I stand behind the ball, swing the putter back and forth, letting the green inform me what the right stroke is. Sounds odd, but once I know the speed of the greens, I can’t go wrong with this method. Figure it out for yourself, because there’s no way I can explain it more than I just did.
8. In all of this, I’m practicing my pre-putt routine: find the speed, find the line. Step up to the ball and place the putterhead in front of the ball, square to the line. Step into the putt, parallel to the line. Bring the putter around (not over) the ball, place it behind the ball, wait one beat, and go. From the time I place the putter head in front of the ball to takeaway requires seven seconds.
My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at www.therecreationalgolfer.com. It will change everything about the way you play.