Better putting needs better practice

Western NY PGA Tips

You really wanted to get the course early for a solid hour of practice before that round, but instead you arrive with five minutes to spare. 

There still is a useful warmup you can do and it’ll probably save more strokes than fifty swings on the range. 

Eagle Vale head pro Chris DeVincentis can get you ready for your round in 12 putts. Or less. 

He emphasizes that most missed putts aren’t because of what you might think. 

“People aren’t missing because of their direction as much as their distance,” DeVincenti says. 

He sees too many players trying to control distance by slowing down the club at impact. Like most other swings in golf, a putter swing needs to be accelerating, not decelerating, when it makes contact with the ball. 

“We’re not trying to hit it harder for a longer putt and softer for a shorter putt. We’re trying to make the proper length of stroke,” DeVincentis says. 

He practices controlling the length of putt making swings at short intervals. Start with two, four, six and eight feet. Then move back to three, six, nine and 12. In a practice session, there’s no limit to the range of the putt sequence. 

“I can go as far as I want. I can use as many balls as I want,” DeVincentis says. 

He doesn’t want the player to worry about making or missing. If the drills is being executed correctly, the misses should be minor. 

DeVincentis explains he’s so afraid of spiders, he would use a shotgun to eradicate one even if a tissue would do. 

By the same token, a putter should not be using an exceptionally long backswing for a short putt when a much shorter swing would do. “Use the tissue, not the shotgun,” he says. 

The next step is to do the intervals on four sides of the same hole. As DeVincentis calls it, putt “north, south, east and west.” Not only will a player learn distance control, but they’ll get a look at the amount of break a green is giving. 

“Five, ten minutes before I’m ready to go to that first tee, I’m going to take four balls at least and I’m going to do north, south, east and west,” DeVincentis says. “Even if I only hit four balls, four balls, four balls, four balls and I hit up to 16 feet, I’m going to have a pretty good idea of the speed of those greens for that day.”

DeVincentis prescribes getting a putter’s eyes over the ball and he has a test you can use to determine if your eyes are in the right place. 

“If I drop a ball from my eye, you’ll see how far inside it drops,” he says. When the eyes are in the correct position, the dropped ball should land on top of the ball on the ground next to the putter. 

Four balls, four directions and maybe four minutes. If all you have is a pinch, it’s all you need to be ready. 

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