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4 Ways To Reboot Your Putting

Source: GolfDigest
By Cameron McCormick

Pull yourself out of that rut and hole more putts

Was your performance in 2016 slightly less than satisfying? I know it’s not enough to hear it happens to everyone from time to time. You want to shake off the year of stubs, lip-outs and three-jacks before golf season rolls back around and you’re racking up missed putts again like a kid catching Pokémon. Well, if you really want to fix this flat-stick fiasco, you’re going to need a bit more than a 30-minute session rolling balls into those tiny golf cups. I recommend a full reboot. Here I’m going to give you four ways to pull yourself out of that putting rut. Sometimes only one of these will do the trick, but be prepared for the reality that you might need all four. Best get started. –With Ron Kaspriske

1.) BENCH YOUR PUTTER
If you’re the kind of golfer who talks to a putter, gives it a good spanking when it isn’t performing, and even threatens to back the pickup truck over it in the parking lot, it’s time for the “we need to take a break from each other” conversation. Bench your putt-er for something different. Use a blade? Switch to a mallet. Always preferred heel-shafted putters? Try a centershaft. Everything from club length to grip circumference is up for consideration. Go get fitted (View: Your Ultimate Guide To Finding A Better Game). The big switch works for two reasons. First, there are no bad memories with a new putter. It’s a new day. Second, assuming the old one isn’t now residing in a scrap-metal yard, you’ll make it just jealous enough that it will perform its best when you rekindle your relationship.

2.) REALLY BENCH YOUR PUTTER
“It’s not you, it’s me” won’t fly as a break-up excuse after the second Tinder date, but it’s probably true of your relationship with the putter. It showed up ready to bury every five-footer–but sometimes you didn’t. You need a refresher on mechanics. So I suggest you practice putting with your sand wedge. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. A good stroke is propelled by the shoulders and requires minimal hand or wrist action. To get the ball rolling with a wedge, you have to make that kind of stroke hitting the ball at its equator with the leading edge (above). This type of practice elicits precision and is good for the ol’ ego. You’re more apt to forgive yourself for a miss, which helps reduce those anxious feelings that turn you into a puddle of goo when the putts actually count.

3.) GRAB AND GO
You’ve held your putter the same way for so long the grip is starting to look like one of those training clubs that has grooved channels for your fingers. It’s time to switch it up, because what you’re doing, as they say here in Texas, is as pitiful as a three-legged dog. The easiest switch would be to flip hand positions so the higher one is lower. But I think you should take it a step further. Get crazy with it. Try the saw, the claw, the paintbrush, the non-anchored belly grip. Sometimes all you need is a dramatically different way of holding the club to reset your brain and start rolling the ball the way you used to.

4.) HIT SOME BOMBS
On the putting green you need to be more Picasso than Pythagoras. In other words, knowing the math behind a putt is important (speed, slope, etc.), but don’t let it squelch your right-brain artistry. You probably aren’t crunching numbers when you ball up a piece of paper and try tossing it into the garbage. You just use your feel. My suggestion? Go deep. Find the longest, craziest putts on a green and try to make them. Even putting from well off the green will help you get your feel back. You know you have to hit the ball hard, and you know it’s going to break, but when you try these long-distance putts, you become less concerned with the mechanics and tap back into the hand-eye coordination you thought you lost. Another benefit? It will free up your stroke. No more trying to steer them in. You’ll putt without fear of missing. Reboot complete.

Cameron McCormick is Jordan Spieth’s instructor and teaches at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas.

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How to handle a downhill lie and hit the green

If you play a lot of hilly courses, you’re already familiar with uneven lies, including those of the downhill variety. This tricky position—in which your leading foot is below your back foot at address—can be very challenging, especially from short fairway grass. To ensure solid contact and a pin-seeking approach shot from a downhill lie, you’ll need to make the following three basic setup changes.

SET SHOULDERS PARALLEL

Your normal iron setup won’t work for this lie—the clubhead will bottom out too soon and you’ll make contact with the ground behind the ball. Instead, hold your club across your shoulders and tilt your spine toward the target until the shaft matches the slope of the hill. Once your shoulders are parallel to the slope, move on to step 2.

MOVE YOUR WEIGHT TO YOUR DOWNHILL FOOT

It’s critical to make ball-first contact from this lie, so play the ball in the middle of your stance (or at least slightly farther back than normal) and shift about 75 percent of your weight to your front, or downhill, foot. This will encourage your body to move in the direction of the slope, rather than hang back.

TRACE THE SLOPE

Last, extend your arms through impact so that the clubhead travels as low to the slope as possible. By swinging on the same plane as the hill, you’ll ensure ball-first contact and a smooth, full finish— and maybe even a birdie opportunity.

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A simple way to power up your golf swing

Three important physical attributes that lead to more power in the golf swing are strong gluteal muscles, core stability and ankle mobility. Strong glutes should be obvious. They are prime movers in the golf swing and control the action of the pelvis. You also need strong muscles around the mid-section of your body to stabilize it as you swing a club, especially at faster speeds. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to keep your balance and hitting the ball with the center of the clubface would be a real challenge. The third attribute might have surprised you, but it’s just as important. Ankle mobility matters particularly in transferring weight from your back foot near the top of the backswing into the front foot as you swing down. If you think of the footwork of players such as Tony Finau, Bubba Watson and Justin Thomas—very big hitters—you might have an easier time understanding why functional movement in the ankles is a crucial part of power generation. They have active feet and extremely mobile ankles. Most long-ball hitters leverage the ground to store up power and then spring upward through impact. A good example of this was Tiger Woods’ swing while working with Sean Foley.

So what exercise can you do in the gym to improve function in your power-generating muscles? Squats. But not just any squats. In fact, the majority of people should avoid doing most types of squats—especially traditional barbell squatting—as it is one of the easiest ways to injure your lower back. Instead, try goblet squats. This exercise is great because it’s amazingly self-regulating, both in terms of form and safety. If there are issues with core stability or ankle mobility, you’ll know it the minute you try a goblet squat. If your trunk lurches forward or you can’t drop your butt down until your elbows are about knee height—or lower—then you’ll know you need to spend some time on core stability exercises and ankle mobility exercises. Continuing to practice the goblet squat will help, but you need some extra work on the exercises provided in the links, too. As far as how much weight to use, I recommend starting with a lighter dumbbell or kettlebell and then progressing to heavier weight as your form and range of motion improve. If you can’t easily pick up the weight with one arm, start with something lighter.

To watch me demonstrate a goblet squat, click on the video below. Add these to your workout and you’ll be priming your body for better power generation when you play.

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Michelle Wie’s Four Moves to Knock It Close

The 2014 U.S. Women’s Open champ is known as a power hitter. She can also pound greens. Here are four moves to make knocking it close extra Wie-sy.

1. PLAY A HEAD GAME
Wie’s head is behind the ball at impact, with her eye line parallel to the ground. This combination allows her arms and right shoulder to work under her instead of working too much around. The result? Ultra-pure impact.

2. GET A LEG UP
Wie committed to strengthening her lower body a few years back, and it paid off with a U.S. Open trophy. Swings need leg power. Even doing simple squats while watching television will strengthen your legs and improve your swing.

3. LET’S KICK IT
This perfect divot indicates ball-first contact. To turn your mis-hits into pure strikes, copy Wie: Kick your right knee toward your left foot on your downswing. It’s a Hogan move that still works wonders.

4. START AT THE BOTTOM
Wie’s feet trigger her downswing. She shifts her weight to her left side, keeping her left foot rooted to the turf. Engage your lower body first. It helps your entire motion fall into place, almost by magic.

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