I can't be more excited about the start of my junior golf camps.
One of the highlights of the camp for me is having some time to teach these kids how to improve their short game. The short game is the most important part of golf because a majority of shots take place on or around the green.
One mistake I see a lot -- especially from kids -- is failing to square the putter. On short putts, some beginners just step up to the ball and putt it, failing to notice they are not properly aligned.
This drill, which I call "Down the line," is designed to help people learn to square the putter face and roll the ball straight.
Using string I set up five lanes of different widths. The widest is two feet and the tightest is three inches. All but the 3-inch lane are 15 feet long; the 3-inch lane is 6 feet long.
Placing a ball in the middle of the lane, try to putt the ball from one end to the other without allowing the ball to touch the string.
If your putter face isn't square, you probably won't be able to do it. This is especially the case on the more challenging 6-inch and 3-inch lanes.
I hear the term "over the top" a lot.
It's something a lot of players say after a bad shot, but what does it mean?
It means that the player was over the top of the backward swing line -- the downswing was outside, or over the top, of the backswing path.
A good way to picture this is to place a ball on the ground and lay a stick or another club (pointing down the fairway) behind it. The stick represents the target line -- the line you'd like the ball to fly on. Then, inches in front of your feet, place another stick or club on the ground. This stick should be parallel to the stick behind the ball.
The stick closest to your feet represents the line you'd like to send the shaft back to during your swing. When the club is waist-high, parallel to the ground, it should be inside of the stick placed at your feet.
In a good takeaway, the face of the club will be in front of your hands and not cross the stick closest to your feet.
What a lot of amateurs do during the takeaway is twist with the wrists, arms and hands brining the face of the club behind the stick on the ground. The face of the club is behind the body. This causes the downswing to be outside of the stick behind the ball.
When the downswing goes from outside-in, or "over the top," the ball slices.
One way to get rid of the slice is to improve your takeaway. Take the club away, making sure the face of the club is inside the stick closest to your feet. This will help you go from inside-out on the downswing, eliminating the slice.
I talk to a lot of parents about their children's ability on the golf course. Parents want to know how their children can improve their skills, especially during the offseason.
One thing I suggest that they learn is bouncing the ball on the club face. What I tell them is: If all elite players can do this, and you want to be an elite player, then you need to learn how to do this.
It's more than just a neat trick. Bouncing the ball on the club face is just one way to improve hand-eye coordination, a key in hitting solid ball striking. What I like about this method is that it involves a club and a golf ball. You improve your hand-eye coordination and get a better feel for the equipment that you use.
To learn to be a better ball striker, learn to do this simple exercise. Hold the grip of the club at the bottom and angle the shaft so that the club face is flat -- flat enough to set a glass of water on.
Drop the ball and move your elbow up and down to bounce it.
It looks like we have a few weeks left before the weather is nice enough to get on the course consistently. Here's a simple way to get ready, even if you're stuck indoors.
Crystal Woods Golf Club
J is a local golf professional and is available for lessons by appointment.