No-Frills Putting Drills

Nine easy ways to lower your score

A quiet body, a ball at rest, a short back-and-forth motion—how could

something so simple cause so many headaches? It’s a question that

occupies the minds of touring professionals and weekend warriors alike.

Wouldn’t it be great if putting was as simple as it sounds, where every

round was as automatic as the clinic Aaron Baddeley put on at Harbour

Town this year (97 putts over 72 holes)? Jeff Ritter, director of

instruction at the ASU Karsten Golf Academy in Tempe, Ariz., believes

putting isn’t complicated. And to help solve your putting woes, he has

put together his No-Frills Putting Drills—nine straightforward,

no-nonsense exercises intended to be practiced on your own, without the

aid of an instructor. Practice these drills and, before you know it,

you’ll actually look forward to working with the flatstick.

Hinge For Power

Amateurs have problems hitting crisp iron shots due to two fatal flaws.

First, the takeaway tends to be too low to the ground, which delays the

proper hinging of the wrists until too late in the backswing. Second,

in a misguided effort to create power, the arms tend to swing too far

in the backswing. This causes a breakdown in posture and usually leads

to a reverse pivot. These flaws cause mis-hits and a lack of distance

and control.

Dial In The Distance

To get the clubhead traveling a little faster (a necessary requirement

for hitting longer shots), you need to create a longer backswing with

an increase in the amount of arm swing and body turn. Not only must the

swing be a little longer, but you need to pick up the pace of your

swing to increase clubhead speed as well. The pace of the forwardswing

should be slightly faster than normal.

Align The Easy Way

Align The Easy WayMost of my students struggle with the slice. Many of these golfers have

serious swing issues, but the majority certainly possess enough talent

and an understanding of the golf swing to keep slices at bay. The

problem is they’re trapped into hitting slices because their setup

facilitates swinging on the out-in path to which all slices owe their


Hill Rides: Downhill and Uphill Shots

Uphill and downhill lies are a challenge as they demand balance and control of the clubface throughout the swing

Set up with your spine perpendicular to the slope and shoulders

parallel to the ground so you can swing up the slope on the backswing

and down the slope on the forwardswing. The arrangement of your body

will favor the creation of an upright swing and make it more difficult

to square the face through the hitting area—that’s why a shot from a

downhill lie tends to curve a little to the right. To help shallow the

plane and encourage a swing that’s a little more around your body, drop

your right foot back to close your stance slightly and match up the

ball position to your stance by putting it about two inches back of


Swing Barefoot For Balance

Get In Touch With Your Foundation

The majority of recreational golfers fail to achieve the balance needed

to excel at golf or any athletic activity. One of the reasons why most

golfers don’t swing in balance is that they swing too hard. A rule I

like to impose on my students is “Swing as hard as you want to as long

as you finish the swing in balance.”

Keep It Level

One of the keys to a solid golf swing is a level turn of the shoulders

and hips during the backswing. A solid rotation not only promotes

consistent ballstriking, but lays the foundation for achieving maximum

distance as well.

Preload The Power

Preload The PowerI’m frequently approached at my power clinics and exhibitions by senior

golfers who claim they’ve lost strength and suppleness, which

translates into shorter tee shots. My advice to them for regaining lost

distance is simple and direct: pre-load your power. By that I mean

seniors should make a few swing adjustments to compensate for advancing

age and a diminished ability to turn their shoulders and torque their


Clear The Way

Clear The WayYou can’t hit big drives if your body gets stuck. That’s why I make a

point of rotating my hips completely open on the downswing. This allows

my arms to fully extend through the hitting area. Not only do my hips

clear, but they remain level, which is key. By rotating through on a

level plane, my right shoulder, arm and hip are able to continue adding

power through impact. This prevents my body from getting stuck, which

would limit the potential for clubhead speed by forcing me to hit only

with my hands.

Alter Your Focus

One of the first lessons most golfers learn is to “keep your eye on the

ball.” I’m here to offer a better suggestion: Move your eyes behind the

ball. Heresy, you say? I don’t think so. That’s because when a golfer makes

his or her backswing with a full turn of the shoulders and a proper

shift of weight, the center of his or her chest, or sternum, will be

well behind the ball. (Exactly how far behind the ball depends on an

individual’s suppleness and flexibility.)