Best Ball – Focus on your short game

As we approach our senior years, the golfers amongst us find we start to lose distance and, to some extent, accuracy. This does not, however, need to translate into higher scores.

Our focus should now switch from hitting the ball “big” to getting it “up and down” around the greens. The finest examples of this strategy are the players on the Senior PGA Tour whose scores reflect their dedication to the short game — 100 yards and on to the green.

Let’s start with putting, the most important element of the game. Putting is very individualistic and there are many awkward-looking strokes that are still effective. All good putters incorporate three factors: feel, tempo and consistency of stroke.

The next time you’re on the practice green try the following:

  • Take a comfortable stance;
  • Place the ball inside your left foot (for a right-handed putter);
  • Keep knees, body and grip relaxed;
  • Turn the left shoulder back so the putter head moves backward in a relatively straight line (i.e. as a pendulum swing);
  • The hands should remain passive without cocking; accelerate towards your target without allowing the rht hand to pass the left;
  • Do not watch the ball roll into the hole — listen for it. This will train you to keep your head steady.

A practice tip used by most pros on the tour is to raise your putter blade about 1/2 an inch off the surface of the green, letting it stroke the ball — never allowing the blade to contact the green. This will relieve all tension and allow you to really “stroke” the putt. Never decelerate. Always accelerate the blade towards the hole. Most short putts are missed by deceleration.