These days, unfortunately, many of us have a lot more time on our hands and are stuck indoors. This doesn’t mean that you can’t improve your golf game while practicing social distancing. One of the skills I look at with players that really separates elite level golfers and amateurs is the ability to hit the center of the clubface. In this blog I am going to discuss some things you can do at home to improve your ability to hit the center of the PUTTER FACE. That’s right…the putter face!
Check out this picture of Tiger Woods’ putter. Now here’s a guy who knows how to hit the sweet spot of the putter time after time. If a player consistently hits the sweet spot on the putter this helps them to be able to control distance, start the ball on line consistently and gives their senses a repetitive feel which in turn improves consistency.
Let’s talk about some drills that improve your ability to hit the center of the putter face. The first one we will discuss is the rubber band drill. This is an easy one. All you need is your putter a ball and two rubber bands. Put your thumb on the sweet spot of the putter. (there is usually a line on the back of the putter or a dot on the top line of the putter that indicates the sweet spot) Wrap a rubber band around either side of the width of your thumb. From there practice hitting balls of various distances trying to avoid contacting the rubber bands. Start off hitting some 2 or 3 footers and work your way up to hitting the ball 20 feet or more. You will notice that the harder you attempt to hit the ball the more difficult it will be to hit the sweet spot. This is one of the main reasons why people struggle so much when hitting long lag putts, they rarely hit the center of the face. Mishits can result in a reduction in distance that the ball travels of up to 20% depending on how far you are attempting to hit the ball.
Another “go to” drill that I like to do with students on the putting green is the Alignment Stick drill. Take two alignment sticks (here in Michigan we call them driveway markers) and point them at a target just slightly wider than your putter parallel to each other. Put the ball directly between the sticks and practice putts short at first then longer. The goal of this drill is to avoid the sticks which will cause you to again hit the sweet spot of the putter. I especially like this one because not only does it help players make good contact, it also promotes good alignment and path of stroke.
A drill that can be incorporated on the course while you are playing is Line it Up. Draw a line on your ball and practice using the line on your putter face and the line on the ball making sure that they match at set up. It’s amazing how many players set up and don’t have the ball in the middle of the putter face. This drill also (like the alignment stick drill) helps players with their alignment as well. Take special notice after you hit the ball of how the line rolls. The line should roll end over end, if it doesn’t there may be something wrong with either your impact location, face angle at impact or the path of the stroke.
Another drill that works for not only putting is the foot spray drill. Go buy a bottle of normal foot spray at the drug store and spray some on your putter face. Go ahead and hit 2 or 3 putts and look at the face. You will be able to see the impact marks from the ball on the face and this will give you a better feel for your success levels. Then take a towel, wipe off the powder and try it again. I like this one because if you don’t hit the center, you’ll start to notice patterns which always makes it easier to make a change. For example, some players may be more likely to hit the toe whereas some players may tend to hit the heel of the putter. I think the old saying goes, knowing is half the battle… it’s amazing to watch once a player is conscious of a tendency, they can fix it just by thinking about it. Try the foot spray drill and see if this works for you!
These are just a few of some at home drills that you can do to help with face contact putting. I like these because they are easy to do, and they can make a big difference if you practice them consistently. There are also a lot of training aids that are out there which also can help with improving putter face contact along with a lot of other aspects of putting. One of the companies I rely on for these products is www.eyelinegolf.com. We utilize many of these products during golf schools and private lessons at Treetops Resort.