Golf Tip from the Pro
While most golfers know that it is the short game that makes or breaks their round, very few amateurs are effective in this area of the game. The most common fault that golf professionals see is deceleration of the clubhead at impact. Amateurs tend to do this with chipping and pitching and even putting! The main reason is that they take the club too far back in the backswing and then have to slow the club down in the forward swing. For Example: If you have a chip from just off the green and you want to land the ball on the green and let it run to the hole how big a swing do you have to make? Most of the time with a chip you are only trying to get the ball airborne for a few feet to get over the fringe, however many amateurs take the club back to waist high or farther for that little shot!
As you decelerate (slow the club down ) into impact, the club tends to either hit the ground before the ball and the result is a “chunk” or the club can come up early and you hit high on the ball causing a “skulled shot” and the ball goes sailing over the green. So when you go out to practice your chipping next time, try taking the club back much less in the backswing and feel as though you are slightly accelerating through impact. The other thing you should do is pick a spot on the green that you are trying to land the ball instead of thinking about where the hole is. This will put you in the mindset that it is not a long shot and will focus you on how far you want the ball to fly in the air.
Almost the same advice can be given for putting. When asked how far back versus how far through the putter is swung 90% of amateur golfers will say you take the putter back the same length as you swing it forward (like a pendulum) Here is a statistic for you: On a level seven foot putt the average tour professional will take his putter back 5.7 inches and will come forward 11.4 inches. This is almost a 1 to 2 ratio! What does that tell you? It tells us that the majority of good putters are accelerating through the putt! This enables the player to be more consistent, keep the putter on a good line and keep the face square through impact, all necessary aspects to sinking a putt!
What happens when you decelerate the putter into impact? The face of the putter stays open; you can end up with a poor club path and not hit the putt solidly. (We see this happen to amateurs on short putts A LOT!) If you have a 3 or 4 foot putt and tend to miss the putt short and right you are probably decelerating the putter at impact. So try this next time you go out to practice, find yourself a straight level seven foot putt and once you put your ball down and address it with your putter, measure 6 to 7 inches behind the putter and put a tee in the ground. Now practice putting from that spot and try not to let your backstroke hit the tee. This little exercise will force you to shorten your backstroke and also force you to then accelerate into the putt. Hopefully these couple tips will help you improve your game and play more like the professionals!
Chris A. Hicks
CYCC Head Golf Professional