So this is more of an idea or a philosophy than a training drill or tip. It’s nothing state of the art or ground breaking and I’m certainly not the first person to have thought this. Now that I’ve sold you on the idea, we shall continue.
What is it that makes driving on a tight hole all the more pressure-filled? The fact that if you don’t hit it straight you’re going to be hitting your next shot from trouble! Right? Well let’s start from the end. I think one of the best ways to improve your medium and long putting is to make sure you are confident at the short ones, the 2- and 3-footers. If you have no fear of 2-foot putts you will not be afraid of sending a 25-foot putt 2 feet past the hole.
Now that fear of 3-putting from a lengthy putt has cleared up, suddenly approach shots become a whole lot easier. Now the flag isn’t always the target. The middle of the green works great to set up a 2-putt for par rather than a harder shot to a tight pin to try and get it close.
If you can become skilled at greenside chip shots and leave yourself with those 2- or 3-foot putts you no longer have a fear of, the approach shot is easier still. To have a great chance of making a par, all you need to do is get the ball within a few yards of the green.
When the target of the approach shot is now an area larger than the green, it isn’t vital that we leave as short of a club as possible into the green – just important to leave a clear shot. With that in mind you can weigh the options up on the tee with much more forethought.
If the fairway is lined with trouble or hazards, take a club you are confident you can hit the fairway with. You might have a longer approach shot. But if you can rely on your chipping and putting, there is less pressure for the approach shot to be amazing.
In short, practice your game from the hole back to the tee. Practice short putts, then longer putts, chip shots, pitch shots, short irons through to driver. Get good at the short stuff and the pressure is off to hit the long stuff.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at newly crowned World Number 1 Luke Donald. He is one of the shorter hitters and not even that accurate, contrary to popular belief. But his putting, chipping and bunker stats are consistently right at the top. This guy doesn’t know what a double bogey is. Hence consistently low scores.
Photo Credit: Photo by Serena Marie at Flickr Creative Commons.