As a coach, one thing I can’t stand is seeing shots come up short. But it is the norm for most golfers on most shots—irons, pitches, chips and putts. It drives me batty! In this lesson we’ll deal with the putts that come up short. I call them Creepers.
How many times have you played a round where hole after hole you hit putts that were right in the jaws but came up just short? I see it all the time. You had a chance to shoot your best score and you couldn’t get the ball to the hole! Frustrating, isn’t it? I know why it happens and I know how to fix it.
Next time you go to the course, watch the people warming up on the practice green. Most have either three balls or a single ball, and each person is putting to a specific hole. As each golfer putts, the ball rolls up short of the hole by about a foot or so. The golfer rolls putt after putt and the same thing happens. If a ball does drop it goes in by a dimple. If that doesn’t describe the scenario on your practice green, I’ll eat a bug.
I believe that the first 20 swings of the day with any club are the most important. Each time you warm up you are teaching your body what you want it to do each day. So, by coming up short time after time on the practice green, you are programming your eyes, brain and hands to come up short on the course. That’s why, when you come up short on putts hole after hole during a round, it seems no matter how hard you try, you keep coming up short.
Creepers! Ugh! I hate them! CREEPERS!!!
What I have my players do when they first get on the practice green is hit the first 10 putts or so well past the hole, by 3 to 5 feet. It may look silly, but it serves a great purpose. This practice drill will help you hole more putts for many reasons:
1. Your eyes see the ball getting to and going past the hole. You have to teach your eyes that this is a good thing. It’ll then tell the brain and hands that it’s o.k. It’s what you want to happen.
2. It helps ensure a nice long follow-through. If you tend to come up short, many times its because you stop your follow-through a little short. Mostly this happens because of fear of hitting a putt too hard. It’s interesting, isn’t it? A golfer can hit 9 putts out of ten short. Yet he fears the one that went long instead of the nine that came up short. Weird. Especially since the one that went by the hole was the only one that had a chance to go in!
3. You’ll make some of them! You’ll hear that awesome sound of the ball hitting the bottom of the cup. Even if your playing partners aren’t watching, they’ll hear it, too.
I believe that once your body gets used to hitting the ball past the hole, it is easy to throttle back a little. Then your pace on the green will be perfect all day. Conversely, it’s very tough once you’ve taught your self to come up short to make the adjustment to judge pace consistently. But one thing’s for sure: if you teach your ball to come up short during your warm-up, it’s gonna’ come up short all day long.
The lesson is this: “No Creepers!” My team hears me say this every day on the practice green. “Don’t teach yourself to come up short!”
Hit the first few putts of the day on the practice green well by past the hole. You’ll make more putts on the course.