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Golf Tips: Good putting skills are path to ‘the dough’

By: Shawn Kelly
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Hey, once again it’s Masters Week. Spring is in the air, the azaleas are in bloom along Magnolia Lane and the PGA Tour will play its first major of the year. In some parts of the U.S, The Masters is considered to be the official opening of “the golf season.” There’s a lot of history here. Since the days of Bobby Jones, Augusta National has always been the home of the Masters and it’s the only major played at the same venue these many years. The course is always in incredible condition and magical shots always seem to happen. But as the old saying goes “drive for show and putt for dough.” The treacherous greens of Augusta have always been the key to success, so superior putting will determine who wins the green jacket. There are players who can knock the ball a country mile, but if you really want to amaze yourself and friends, you must be able to get the ball into the hole. Putting for dough suggests you are making your putts, posting some low numbers and winning the purse money or maybe liberating a little loose change from your buddy’s pockets. So let’s review a few putting fundamentals. The basic fundamentals: The Grip – There are many different styles of grips on tour these days — reverse overlap, split hand, cross hand, and the unusual claw. All can be very successful ways to grip the putter. I personally use the reverse overlap style, feeling the grip mainly in my right hand and overlapping the left index finger to secure my hands. The grip lies in the palms of my hands, to inhibit wrist movement as I swing the club. Grip pressure is firm but not squeezing, like holding a tube of toothpaste while not squeezing any out of the tube. And this pressure should remain constant throughout the stroke. This should be the only stroke in golf where you don’t want to squeeze the grip on the forward swing. Whichever grip style is best for you is your decision, but strive to keep it consistent. Alignment – The same fundamental as any other golf shot: Start behind the ball and draw an imaginary line from the target to the ball. Pick a spot in front of the ball typically no more than 18 inches to help see the line. Now set the putter face perpendicular to this imaginary line, set your body parallel to this line and you will be aligned properly. Remember in putting, greens are not flat and your target for alignment is not always the hole. We’ll talk about reading the greens in future tips. Set up – Ball position and posture. Get into a comfortable position that allows you to see the line and make a solid stroke. In my set up, I position the ball near the left foot, which is the bottom of the arc of my stroke. My posture is tall so that my arms hang freely from my shoulders and my eyes are positioned directly over the ball. Remember that putting is preferential and there are a lot of different set ups that are effective, find the one that works for you and stay with it. Drill for improvement: Lay a T-square in front of you or imagine railroad tracks on the ground. Practice setting up to these lines until you feel the sensation of square-ness. Standing in front of a mirror will help see what you’re feeling. Square-ness can be a tricky sensation. Sometimes it feels great and everything seems to go in. But on other days the hole looks like a pin hole. Visualize the line that runs from the ball to the target and you will become more consistent. Soon the hole will seem to appear more like a bushel basket. My very best advice for golfers of any skill level is to spend quality time on the practice green. Review the above fundamentals, try the drill for improvement, keep your head still and listen for the ball to rattle into the cup. Above all trust your stroke and remain confident. That is the one thing that all great putters possess — confidence! Demo Days The Ridge will be having a Taylor Made demo day on Thursday, April 12, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. So plan to come out and try the entire new R11’s and Rocket Balz products. Also Nike will be here April 13, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Be here and try the new VR line to max out your distance. You’ll see what a properly fitted club can do for you!