Sharpen Your Short Game

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A great way to develop a rocking motion of the shoulders, as opposed to a lifting one, is to practice a few strokes with the hands down on the shaft. If you can manage to keep the putter grip in the center of your stomach and not touching your arms, you’ll quickly get a feel for making a putting stroke without the need to lift and pull up on the putterhead. Give it at least 10 practice strokes. Then come time to make a real putt, remember what the drill felt like and groove the rocking, not lifting, motion into your putting stroke.

I’m a big believer that the most repeatable stroke is one that travels on a simple arc, from inside the target line to back inside the line. If you try to putt square-to-square, you’ll see that it requires a lot of manipulation of the hands—which, by the way, is far from natural, considering we stand to the side of the ball and putt from an angle, not from directly above the ball.

Here’s a great drill to practice grooving a solid, inside-to-inside stroke. Take a club, and position the grip end on a straight line at the target (using a flat putt). Then with some tees, trace a backswing that curves inside that target line. Now go ahead and start rolling some putts, using the club as a guide for your target line and the tees to help guide you along an inside-to-inside arc. As the putter passes through and makes contact, it’s perfectly all right to allow the putterhead to release and close through the putt. And by close, I mean the putterhead remains square to the arc but closed relative to the target line. If you do this, you’ll soon get a feel for a very natural putting arc.

Now that you’re putting is refreshed and back in shape, don’t neglect the common chip shot that on some days, occurs more often than long putts do.

In this case, I have a simple chip from just off the green and I want the golf ball to fly at a medium height and roll a few feet forward toward the hole. To hit this shot, I place the ball in the back of my stance, just off the inside of my right toe. Now, here’s where I work some of my putting fundamentals into my chipping. Like a good putt, chipping requires you to keep the hands in as constant a position as possible to help produce predictable results. For this shot, I concentrate on keeping my hands ahead of the clubhead at all times, which like a putt, will help me to make solid impact time and time again. As with putting, I like to think of both hands working together and evenly through the stroke, so if you want to practice a few one-armed chips while holding a flat left wrist and a cocked right wrist as you swing, go right ahead. It’s a great way to get a feel for the individual roles the hands play as they coordinate together into one motion.

Unlike with putting however, my hips will have more rotation through the shot. That’s understandable, considering how much longer the club is and the strength I need to get the ball up onto the green. But other than that, my chipping stroke is a lot like my putting stroke. Practice the one-armed drills and get used to “putting your chips” as I’m doing here. You’ll quickly see that improving your chips will lead to shorter putts, which with these fundamentals, you’ll be making a lot more of.

Source :

Dale Abraham is the director of instruction at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Ariz. For more information, visit

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