Timing Is Everything
By Jim McNaney
Think back to your first round this past spring. You probably hit it okay even though you probably didn’t play anywhere over the winter. But what really suffered was your short game, wasn’t it? It’s was all about the feel that you didn’t have: how hard or soft to hit that putt or chip, that feel of hitting the ball out of the bunker, or how to gauge how hard to hit that pitch shot.
Eventually, you regained that feel this spring after a few weeks of play and practice. But how can you retain that feel over the winter? One word: practice. Here are a few practice ideas for the winter:
There are numerous training aids to help you with your putting; anyone or several of them can help. If you don’t have one, purchase a putting mat, as you will need something smooth to practice your putting stroke and to use those putting training aids. The idea is to keep using them two to three times a week.
Here is another short game area that can be practiced at home, with real golf balls, plastic or foam balls. Try using your putting mat and chip just off the mat (from your carpet) to the hole. As an added challenge, try chipping over something (not too high, then it becomes a pitch) that is placed just on the mat. If you go to the domes to hit balls, try chipping off the mat, on to the Astro-Turf, and see if you can roll the ball to a particular target.
Home practice is limited to short pitches over a higher object on to your putting mat to the hole. But, Golf Domes (on the ground floor level) are a wonderful place to practice your pitch shots: Lob it up into the air and try to land on top of a target on the landing area. Pitch and run shots to the same targets: try to land it a 1/3 of the way to a target and let it run to the target. Idea here is for the ball to stop at or just past the target you are aiming at. You might be thinking the ball will run really fast on the Astro- Turf surface. Yes it will, but you’ll develop terrific feel for pitch and run shots if you can get the ball to stop rolling near the target.
While you’re practicing these shots, I highly recommend getting some short game help from your favorite PGA or LPGA Professional to ensure you are practicing these shots correctly.