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TRY TO HIT FLOP SHOTS. Or if you do, don’t open up the blade entirely or as much as you think you should. We can’t pull off crazy flops like the one Tiger Woods chipped in on the 16th hole at Muirfield Village when he won the Memorial Tourna- ment in May. •••


READ PUTTS FROM EVERY ANGLE. The pros are playing for millions, so they’ll often take time to make sure they get the read right and they’re confident with it. Then again, there are players who don’t overdo it. Remember Rory McIlroy at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional? He looked at the putt, walked into his setup with confidence and pulled the trigger. Odds are


that studying the read from five different places isn’t go- ing to significantly improve an amateur’s chances of making the putt. Besides, speed is more important than the line, so that should be the primary focus. •••


PLUMB-BOB. Pros don’t even know what they’re doing half the time when they use this technique, so save yourself the effort and time.


PRACTICE DO:


PRACTICE WITH A PURPOSE. Go out there with a mindset of what you’re going to accomplish and knowing what it is you’re going to work on. If


Charles Howell III is a strong advocate for seeking a private


teacher to help your game.


you watch the pros on the range, they take their time in between each shot and always hit toward a target, whether it’s a flag, tree or pole. (On that note, try using alignment sticks like the pros do—you can find them at your local Home


Depot.) The pros also go through their pre-shot routine or a shortened version of it. •••


GET LESSONS. Most tour players have swing coaches. You don’t need to spend thousands on a clinic with David Leadbetter or another big name. Just taking lessons from your local pro will suffice. ••• “If amateurs are getting a lesson, they have some direc- tion of what they should be working on,” says Charles Howell III, a two-time PGA Tour winner. “If you’re just beating balls, you might as well go and exercise or do something else better with your time.”


DON’T:


ONLY WORK ON THE LONG GAME AND NEGLECT CHIPPING AND PUTTING. Amateurs probably spend 90 percent of their practice time hitting balls on the range and only 10 percent on their short game. If anything, it should be the other way around, but try to even out the ratio. More than half your shots are going to involve the short game. ••• “If you want to lower your score, you have to chip and putt,” says 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson. “You gotta be consis- tent inside


of eight feet, you have to get up and down a lot. You have to have a smile like Matt Kuchar.”


Odds are studying the read from multiple places isn’t going to significantly improve an amateur’s chances of making a putt. Speed is more important than the line and should be the primary focus.


44 / NCGA.ORG / FALL 2012


PHOTO: PGA


PHOTO: STAN BADZ, PGA TOUR


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