Archive for the ‘short game’ Category

How to Putt Better with a Pendulum Swing!

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Putting at its simplest form is a pendulum. You probably know what a pendulum is, that thing on top of your piano that goes back at forth at perfect tempo.

But how do you putt like that? The human body isn’t made like a pendulum, there are actually moving parts such as your head, shoulders, arms, and hands.

Well, today I’ve found a great way to help everyone who reads this humble little golf blog to putt better.

If you’ve putted with a belly-putter or a long putter, you probably notice that it’s fairly like a pendulum, your putter swinging from a center point, your belly or your chest.

But how do you re-create that pendulum swing without a belly-putter or long putter on a regular 36-inch putter?

I know some pros use their “imaginary” point on their chest as the center point. But believe me, there’s lots of things that can go wrong plus that’s not gonna work for the weekend warrior.

Instead use your left elbow (for right-handed golfers) as the center point. I did this today on the putting green today and started sinking like every putt!

Your left elbow is a great center point for your putting stroke as it eliminates the rest of your body. I don’t care how you putt but next time you putt, try using your left elbow as the point that your putting revolves around.

One more tip, a putting stroke should naturally open and close on its own plane. Yes, a putting stroke has a “plane” just like a full swing, the more consistent you can keep this, the truer you can roll the golf ball.

Now try this natural open and closing action while keeping your left elbow as the pivot point, then you’ve got some great consistency.

Well, that’s my secrets, thanks for listening.

How to Make a DIY Backyard Putting Green!

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

Well, folks, I’ve moved into my new place that has a “yard” finally.  It’s a small yard but one of the first things I did was to build my own DIY backyard putting green.

I used to work at the golf course so I know a little bit about growing grass but this DIY putting green was just something created out of my head after doing some research online.

There’s a lot of crap information out there telling you that you need a drainage system, well, I think that’s overkill for your backyard.

Instead, you can use some basic stuff to put together a small DIY putting green for about $100.

Of course, my putting green isn’t finished by all means but let me share with you what I did in just 3 hours to make a mini putting green.

Also, I don’t really need a huge putting green, I just need a small putting green so I can practice some short putts 10 feet in, which is what I practice most anyways and the most important putts.

First, you will need to get some putting green grass.  If you live in a hot weather southern area like Texas, you will want to grow some bermuda grass.

If you live in a cold weather area like me near the ocean, you will want to grow some bentgrass.

I personally prefer bentgrass over bermuda because it’s more finer surface to putt on and there’s less grain.  You can still grow some bentgrass in hot areas, perhaps you can put a canopy tent over it so your grass is always under some shade, that could be a solution.

Bentgrass has many different types but the most popular is the Penncross Creeping Bentgrass, which was developed at Penn State in the 50s.  I guess this is the most popular putting green grass used on also major championship golf courses.

Anyways, I ordered 5 pounds of Penncross Creeping Bentgrass off Amazon for $54.99.  Btw, you can’t get bentgrass seeds from retail stores like Home Depot, OSH, or Lowes, the seeds they sell are mostly mix of fescue, bluegrass, and other types of grass.  They will NOT work for your putting green so don’t get them!

Second, I bought some edging for my new mini putting green to block it away from the rest of my lawn as I don’t want other grass/weed growing on my new putting green.  Since I have plans for extending my new putting green later down the line, I bought edging that could be easily lifted off later.   These Fiber Edges are pretty good and what I am using, $37.12 on Amazon.

So, I started digging couple days back, my original idea was to just make a tiny bit of green to replicate it slowly to the rest of my lawn but I decided at last minute to just use the whole edging I bought to make around 6x6x6 green.

I first laid out my edging as shown below and used the stakes it came with to hold it in place.

Next, I wanted to put the edging in first so I dug up the edges and secured my edging.

Next, I started digging up everything and putting the dirt on the sides.  This is my first time actually making a backyard green so I just improvised as I went along.

Next, I was going to filter out all the old grass and weed but that was going to take me all day to do.  Since I was going to lay some weedblocker over, I simply dumped all the old grass back onto the green but making it so the surface is flat.

This particular part of the lawn sits on a big slope so I used the dirt I excavated to re-adjust the slope so I will end up with a relatively flat green with a slight slope.

As you can see from the sideview, I’ve used my edging to add some flatness to my new putting green so it’s not as sloped as the rest of the yard is.

Next, I cut up the rolls of weedblocker and used the weedblocker staples to put them on the new putting green so weed and the old grass won’t grow into my new green.

I bought 3 cubic feet of some garden soil and dumped the whole thing on top.

 

Since I was winging this whole putting green, I used my tennis shoes to pat down on the garden soil to compact it a bit and did lots of swiping with my feet to get everything evenly surfaced.  I am sure you can do better than this but I didn’t want to take another trip to the hardware store at this point, I wanted to finish the job.

But it did end up pretty nice as you can see, it’s pretty even.

Next, I spread the Penncross Creeping Bentgrass seeds all over the garden soil.

For the final finish, I topped it off with a slight layer of sand to keep the seeds from sun burns.

I think the whole thing cost me just over a hundred dollars and I was surprised even at myself for finishing the whole green in just matter of hours.

Some more thoughts.

I intentionally picked the most sloped part of my lawn, since it’s the least used plus water would drain well.  I would try to find a slightly sloped surface to put your backyard putting green since it will drain better plus you need a slight slope to practice different right-to-left and left-to-right putts.  (Why would you practice straight putts only?!?)

I figure that would also save me thousands of dollars or more hours over building a full-out drainage system, just build it on a slope.

With my new putting green, I can practice right-to-left putts, left-to-right putts, straight putts, and downhill/uphill putts.  I can’t practice long putts on it but I am planning for that later down the road.

Cutting the Greens

For true putting, I will eventually need to get a low-cutting mower that is able to cut less than 1/2 inch , which costs over/around $1,000 on average.

Most lawnmowers can really only cut up to about an inch at most but I found this bentgrass mower online that can cut up to 1/2 inch in height.  At 1/2 inch, I might still have a decent green so we will see and perhaps I can hack the bentgrass mower to cut it even lower.

 

Why did I build this green?

Honestly, I’ve always wanted to putt in the comfort of my backyard because it’s such a big part of your golf game.  You can go to your local golf course and practice but it’s not going to be the same with all that foot traffic everyone else dumps on the practice green.  With my own putting green, I won’t blame anyone but myself.

Also, I’ve always wanted to record some putting green HOWTO videos for this blog but I can’t carry my heavy tri-pod and DSLR camera everytime I go to the golf course but this makes it possible for me to do that.

Why did I not get a synthetic green?

I just don’t think synthetic greens are anywhere near real putting greens.  Plus, I love growing grass, it’s one of the most rewarding things to do when you see your seeds grow.

 

Anyways, I will have an updated photo/video of my new putting green in about 10 days when it should have grown fully.

 

 

 

 

 

Are you Chunking Pitch/Chip Shots?

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

When I play with my hacker golfer friends (who shoot beyond 100 on average), one of the things that I do them over and over again during the course of round is “chunking” their pitch shots/chip shots.

So, how do you “not” chunk pitch/chip shots?

It’s pretty simple, most of my hacker friend who are chunking are trying the help the golf ball instead of hitting down on it.

If you have this trouble many times on the golf course, here’s some simple tips that can help you hit them good everytime:

1. When you setup to the golf ball, make sure your weight is a bit on the left (perhaps 60% on the left and 40% on the right will do for right-handed golfers). This will eliminate any chances of you thinning or chunking.

2. Also when you are setting up to the golf ball, make sure your hands are slightly ahead of the ball. If not, you are setup for chunking.

3. When you hit the pitch/chip shot, hit “down” on the golf ball and “through” until you have finished the shot. A lot of golfers “decelerate” on their downswing and this will cause chunking.

These three tips should help you stop chunking those pitch/chip shots and helping you save more strokes.

Even if you are not chunking, perhaps you can help out your friend who chunks. :)

Of course, there are advanced methods to pitching/chipping to but these tips are for those of you who have a chronic “chunking” problem.

How to Hit Long Sand Shots and Put a Lot of Spin On It!

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

One of the easiest shots in golf  for pros and scratch golfers is a sand shot inside 30 yards.

One of the hardest shots in golf for anyone is a long sand shot more than 30 yards.

Why?  Because with the sand wedge, you can only hit it so far from the beach.  Since you are opening the clubface near 30 degrees open, after about 30 yards, you are doing to have a hard time just getting the golf ball to the green.

So, how to hit this long sand shot?

There’s two ways, you can either open your sand wedge less and try hitting the shot but that’s not always the best way because the less you open your sand wedge, the less bounce you effectively use on your wedge.

Without bounce, the sand shot becomes more risky.

A better way to hit the longer sand shots is with a longer club such as your pitching wedge or even 9-iron.

For a 50-yard sand wedge shot perhaps from a fairway bunker (that’s relatively close to the green), you can hit a pitching wedge, almost exactly like your sand shots with the sand wedge.

Here’s the cool part though, because you are effectively hitting the golf ball harder with the longer club, you can put a LOT of spin on the golf ball.

Not that many people know or even attempt to hit this long bunker shot but when you pull it off and your ball one hop and stops next to the hole, you will see everyone’s jaws drop as you take their money.

You still have to hit the long sand shot correctly, perhaps a bit less margin of error than shorter sand shots.  This inevitable because the pitching wedge has less bounce.

When hitting these longer sand shots, you need to aim a bit more left than you think because the pitching wedge causes more left-to-right spin than on short sand shots.

Also, make sure you make a “shallow” and “thin” scoop of sand.  The sand should look 5-6 inches long but very thin.  This is same concept as a regular short sand shot but in a short sand shot, you can still get the golf ball on the green with a slighter fatter action whereas the longer sand shots, you don’t have that margin or error.

Now, if you are at a longer distance, let’s say 80 yards in the fairway bunker, you can try a 9-iron.

If you are at longer than that, my advice is to actually try to hit the ball clean while keeping your head up throughout the shot.  Once it gets to that distance, it’s better to hit a half-swing/full-swing shot and in my opinion, those are much easier than something between 30-100 yards.

 

How to Hit the One Hop and Stop, Low Trajectory/High Spinning Wedge Shot!

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

You probably seen on TV golf pros hitting that one hop and stopping wedge shot.

This is probably one of the most useful shots from 100 yards in because it’s a “one hop” and “stop”.

I know you’ve seen other high-spinning wedge shots that land then roll back 20 feet.  I am not talking about those.  Actually those shots are much harder to control and would only be useful in situations you actually have to roll it back.

For most situations from 100 yards in, you will benefit more from one hope stop, then a shot that lands and rolls back into the water.

So, how do you hit this shot?

First, you need a “clean” wedge with no dirt or grass between its grooves.  If you don’t clean your golf clubs, I highly suggest you to do it starting from now on or at least clean your wedges as it will help you put more spin on the ball and hit the one hop and stop shot.

If you don’t have a clean wedge with dirt or grass in its grooves, that pretty much gives you no chance at this shot because clean grooves mean backspin on the ball.

Third, you need a relatively soft ball.  If you use long-distance balls, you are probably not gonna one stop and hop it by any means.  You might be able to do it in perfect conditions but if you want to hit the one hop and stop shot on consistent basis, switch to a softer ball as this will help your overall shortgame too.

I primarily use Titleist Pro V1X, that’s been my favorite golf ball for like the last 10 years or since it came out.

When you have a clean wedge and a soft ball, you are ready to rock!

The one hop and stop shot is nothing but actually a clean half-swing shot.  To hit this, you need to do a half-swing instead of a full swing and try to hit the golf ball really clean.

When you do a half-swing on a wedge, you will get a lower trajectory and won’t spin out of control (and spin 20 feet back) but will simply one hop and stop.

There are of course more advanced ways to hit this shot but in reality, anyone can hit this shot with a clean wedge, soft ball, and a half swing provided the ball is hit squarely on the center of the clubface.

If you want to get a bit lower trajectory, you can play around by putting the golf ball slightly back in your stance (but I don’t recommend beyond center) and getting your weight over to the left on your downswing, which feels almost like you are coming over the top.

Also, you don’t hit this shot HARD, you want soft hands and a lazy rhythm.  It’s a “feel” shot, if you force it, your ball will shoot up in the air and you won’t get the same stop and hop effect.

Remember, you need to hit the golf ball super-crisp and super-clean, a nice “thin” divot is a sign of that, no big divots please.  Big divots mean you struck down on the ball too much and what happens is that the dirt  and grass will get between the ball and your wedge grooves, killing your chances of putting lots of backspin on the golf ball.

You can hit this shot with pretty much any wedges (sand, lob, pitching), I prefer my sand wedge the best).

Remember, practice makes perfect.  You will want to practice this shot with a clean wedge and also clean, soft balls.  And yes, try to have a wet towel with you so you can clean your grooves every couple shots.

All these little things do matter when hitting the hop and stop shot.

The hop and stop shot is a great weapon to have in your golf bag because you can use it on a good day or a day with 30MPH+ winds.  Since it will travel at a lower trajectory, your wedge shot isn’t affected by the wind as much, meaning more wedges shots closer to the hole.

Anyways, enough rambling, I hope these tips help you, just remember the most important 4 things: Clean grooves, clean “soft” balls, easy half-swing, and perfect contact with the ball.

You don’t have to do anything special to make the golf ball spin, just do the basics right.  THAT, is the secret.

Happy golfin’

The 3-Footer Putting Drill!

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Last time I talked about the 3, 5, 10, 15, 25 feet putting drill, well there’s another drill that will help you get 100% proficiency rating at short putts.

This is the “infamous” 3-footer putting drill.

First, you find a flat surface on the putting green with no break.

Second, get about 5 golf balls and set it 3-feet from the hole.

Third, Try to see how many you can make in a row. If you miss, you must reset your count back to zero.

Give yourself about 15 minutes everyday (or whenever you practice) to see if you beat your last record.

My record for this on a good week? I would say if you can make about 100 in-a-row, you are pro-level.

And believe me, that’s not easy to do, this is a concentration putting drill that will improve your putting stroke overall too.

If you miss a lot of these 3-footers on the course, it’s TIME to start taking control and never miss them again like the pros.

Simple drill and can save you 5-10 strokes if you are not already making ALL of them.

The 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 feet Putting Drill!

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

So, you want to get really good at those short to medium putts?

Here’s a drill me and many pros use to get really, really good at these types of putts.

First, you will need 5 golf balls.

Second, find a completely flat lie with no breaks on the putting green.

Third, set the golf balls 3 feet, 5 feet, 10 feet, 15 feet, and 20 feet from the hole.

Next, start with the 3 footer and if you make it, go to the next 5 feet and so on until you can finish all five.

Here’s the trick though, if you miss any of them, you have to start over.

Once you’ve done that, find a right-to-left breaking lie and do the drill again.

Once you’ve done that, find a left-to-right breaking like and do the drill again.

When I used to practice everyday, I used to do this on a daily basis.

What does this do?

It gets you trained really well for those distances and get your putts more consistent.

Also, don’t overdue it, if it’s not your day, you are not going to make a lot of them, set a “limit” (such as 30 minutes) for this putting drill.

Try it, this will help your short to medium putts tremendously.

Putting Secrets – How to Putt Better with Pace and Speed!

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

You know how golf announcers on TV always mention “pace” of the putt while pros putt?

Well, this “pace”, can help you putt better.

How does it work?

In simpler terms, you need to find the “correct” speed of your putting stroke that will work with the greens on the golf course you are playing at.

One of the reasons why many golfers will shoot much higher score at better golf courses is because they cannot cope with the super-fast green speeds and start panicking.

Once you start panicking over a putt on the green and overshoot it by miles and end up 3-putting or even worse, you lose your confidence.  And if you do this for more than a hole, all of your putting confidence disappears for the day.

Does this sound familiar to you?  Don’t worry, it has happened to me hundreds of times, especially when I am trying out for U.S. Open qualifying, those greens are slick as hell.

It’s a vicious cycle of putting bad but in actual reality, you aren’t putting bad, you simply didn’t have the right “pace” for the green.

So, how to achieve the sound “pace” for the golf course you are playing today?

Make sure to get a feel for the greens by getting a 15-minute warm-up session before you play, especially if this is a golf course you have not played before or you know beforehand that the greens are kept immaculate and super-slick.

While you warm up to get the “feel” for the greens, you need to find the correct “pace” or “speed” for your putting stroke.

For best results, I highly recommend to control the distance that your putts roll with the “length” of your putting stroke. Now, if you overshoot or end up short, you need to then adjust your “pace” or “speed” of your putting stroke accordingly but do not change the length of your putting stroke.

Because your brain is already taught to use a certain “length” of your putting stroke for the distance required, you don’t need to change that, just change the “pace” of your putting stroke.  Once you get the right “pace”, make sure you record it in your brain and use it for the rest of the day.

If there’s a certain green that’s under a tree and feels damp in your feet, you will have to adjust accordingly as it’s most likely going to be slower than other greens on the golf course, speed up your “pace” just a tad.

Of course, for those greens on the hills and if it’s one of your last holes of the day, the greens are going to be a bit faster, slow down your “pace” just a tad.

Why adjust “pace” not the “length” of your putting stroke?

Pace is everything in golf, and if you’ve just switched from a super-slow green to super-fast green, you aren’t going to be able to make the correct adjustments with the length of your putting stroke easily but you can easily with “speed” of your putting stroke.

I will have a further video tutorial on exactly what I mean here, feel free to ask any question below!

How to Putt Better by Slowing Down and Lightening Your Grip!

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Well, today was the best putting practice session I’ve had in a long, long time.  I practically sank every 1 out of 3 putts I looked at.   One of the things I was practicing today was putting a “solid” stroke on the ball, like I was telling you the other day. (For those of you who haven’t read, please read how to putt better by trying less.)

While trying to get my putts down super solid, I stumbled onto more putting secrets.

Since I don’t like keeping secrets just to myself for my benefit, let me tell you and they are rather simple.

First, if you are not hitting every one of your putts solid, try slowing down a pace or two.  I slowed my putting stroke about a pace or two and bam!  I started hitting every one of my putts SOLID.

Second, you can also try lightening your grip as much as possible while you slow down your putting stroke.

If you already have a really, really slow putting pace, you might actually want to try the opposite, speed up a bit.

The trick here is to find the right rhythm and speed that gives you the best results, solid-feelin’ putts.

Try these small tips next time you are on the putting green.

And if you are never on the putting green, you know why your putting never improves.  I go to the putting green like it’s the most fun things to do in the world, and it is.   It’s like playing 8-ball but better.

How to Putt Better by Trying Less!

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

If you want to improve your putting, first thing you will want to do is “stop trying” to sink your putts.

I know, I know, the whole point of putting is that you want to make the ball go in the hole but if you keep your focus there, you will inevitably make less putts.

So, how do you putt better by trying less and “not” trying to sink every putt?

I want you to try this exercise, I assure you, this will help you putt better.

The next time you go out to the putting green, I want you to practice putting by hitting towards “nothing”.

What do I mean?

I want you to actually don’t worry about where your golf ball goes but rather, focus on your putting stroke.  Keep putting the ball into “nothingness” while focusing on achieving solid hits.

When you start letting go of everything including that of making putts into a target, you will inevitably start developing a better putting stroke.

Having a good solid contact on all your putts is not only essential, it will pretty much determine whether your putt has a chance to go in the hole or not.

99% of amateurs I have seen play don’t hit their putts solid, the main reason why putts don’t go into the hole.

What does hitting putts solid mean?

When you hit a solid putt, you will be able to feel it in your hands.  This will happen because you made a good, free putting stroke without trying to manipulate it.  When you hit your putts solid, you will be hitting them squarely in the center of the putter’s sweetspot.

When you hit putts solid, two things happen.

One, your putt won’t be affected as much by the slope nor the putting surface.

Second, you will inevitably sink more putts because your putts “roll” true and smooth.

On the other hand, if you don’t hit your putts solid, you probably don’t even have a chance of making it. (unless you got lucky)

Most pros on tour don’t miss putts because they mis-read the putt, they miss them because they didn’t hit their putts solid.

Once you have mastered your putting stroke, then you can start trying to sink putts on the practice green.

If you keep hitting putts that don’t feel good in your hands, it’s always a good idea to focus on your putting stroke by practicing the stroke itself.

Even one of the best putters in the world Ben Crenshaw tells you to do this in his instructional putting video.  Plus, did you know that Ben Crenshaw used to sink putts from everywhere with 1 quick look at the hole when he was a teenager?  This is because when you hit your putts solid as hell, you will sink a LOT of putts, as simple as that.

If you don’t believe me, try this next time you are on the putting green.

I really could give a damn how you putt whether that’s left hand down the shaft, criss-cross, or whatever but if you can hit your putts solid, you are gonna be winning more skins and your friends will wonder why you are such damn good putter. (and them always buying you dinner)