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Don't short your short game

Saturday, April 12, 2014 - Updated: 4:08 AM

By RICH SCOTT

sports@recordernews.com

It's that time.

Fox Run is open for business, just in time for the Masters, as is Rolling Hills.

When it comes to practice, I see hundreds of people hitting balls at the various ranges around the area. The one thing in common that I see is the big stick -- AKA, the driver, is being hit most of the time. Bucket upon bucket of balls are hit trying to take the cover off the golf ball. Golfers have always been intrigued by how far they can hit the ball, and with technology today I can see why. Although driving distances have been on the increase -- Bubba Watson leads the tour at 315 yards -- scoring averages have remained the same. For example, Lee Trevino led the tour in 1980 with a scoring average of 69.7; today, Rory McIlroy leads the tour at 69.4.

So, here's my tip: Spend 20 percent of your range time hitting the big stick, as it is good for the ego and it is fairly important to hit it somewhere near the fairway. But, the other 80 percent of your time should be spent on approach shots, wedge play and, most of all, putting. It doesn't do you much good to hit the ball 270 off the tee, only to top your 5 iron, hit your wedge to 20 feet and then three-putt for a solid 6 on your favorite par 4.

As a continuation on last week's column on putting, here is another putting drill: Work on a solid stroke from in close to begin with and then work your way out from there. A good drill to do was brought to light with Phil Mickelson. Start with five balls the length of the grip on your putter away from the hole spread equally in a circle; make all of them in a row; and, then move out a foot at a time. If you miss at any time moving around the circle, start over. It might not seem like much when you are putting from two feet, but the pressure will increase as the distance increases.

A little bit of short game practice can go along way in reducing your score. Just imagine: If you usually have a score of 105 and three-putt 10 greens, you have added 10 strokes to your score that were unnecessary. Drop 10 and you have shot 95, without even changing your full golf swing.

For more drills stay tuned to our weekly tip, or visit your local PGA Professional

Keep it smooth.

Scott is a PGA professional at the Fox Run Golf Club in Johnstown.

     

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