Pitch and Putt Tips
Just what is Pitch and Putt?
Is it, as it is often called, ‘Short Golf’ or ‘Par 3 Golf’ or indeed ‘Pitch and Putt Golf’? (as it is called in Catalonia, one of the strongest Pitch and Putt territories after Ireland.) Although it is an offshoot of golf it is a game that can very much stand on its own merits. Played on a 9 or 18 hole course, a player may use two clubs, one of which must be a putter. Maximum distance from tee to green is 70 metres while an 18 hole course cannot exceed 1,000 metres.
While these are the basic rules, of course, other rules also govern the game and these are available in the P.P.U.I. rule book. Pitch and Putt was first played in Ireland in the mid to late 1930s. Cork and Dublin were the first areas to show a real interest but the game grew in strength and popularity so that in 1961 various representatives came together and formed the Pitch and Putt Union of Ireland. There are registered clubs in 20 counties and the game is administered through a club/county board and National Executive system that ensures the democratic functioning of the game.
Two Clubs Needed (Also available to hire)
Pitching wedges are the standard teeing-off club for pitch and putt courses. A pitching wedge is a popular choice, as it can reach all the holes on the course, but also can be dialed back to play short shots.
The putter is responsible for two of the three stokes built into each hole (depending on your skill), as every hole is designed to be reached in only one stroke. The key to developing a strong putting game is to find a putter you are comfortable with and stick with that so you can begin to learn to control your pace so that you can stop the ball near the hole every time. As long as your distance control is strong with your putter, even a poorly read putt is unlikely to be far enough away that you don't have a good chance of making your second putt.
Learn the basics, such as how to grip the club, how to stand over (address) the golf ball, how to swing the golf club, how to putt, etc.
Relax your grip, soften your knees and stand a little behind the ball to enable the upward swing to connect with the ball.
Cheat sheet - Go to a driving range a few times before you head out onto the course. Your aim is to be more confident, knowing the distances and average trajectory of the clubs you use is essential.
Super pro tip - Also, using the driving range before a round will give you an idea of how the weather is affecting your shot. Is it windy? Is the humidity making the ball heavy and affecting distance? Practicing at the range lets you find these things out without costing strokes.
The most important tip is 'KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL' do not lift your head when hitting it.
After you tee off, usually you need to chip the ball to get it closer to the green. Chipping and putting are two areas of the game where everyone can improve. Improve your chipping and putting, and you’ll significantly reduce your handicap (beat your competitors). The touring pros spend more time practicing their short games than all of their other shots combined.
The most important aspect of chipping is to make sure that your lead wrist doesn’t break down during the chipping motion. Keep your lead arm straight and your wrist firm during the shot.
Cheat sheet: If you’re having difficulties, place a rubber band around your lead wrist and slide the butt end of the club under it, holding the club close to your wrist. This will give you the correct feel when chipping the ball.
Getting out of trouble
Most players have felt the agony of hitting the ball into the rough, bushes, trees, water, a bunker or even into the rain shelter. To get out, the clubface must be open in order to get a wedge shot to fly high and straight. The combination places the hosel of the club—where shanks occur—dangerously close to the ball.
To keep the shanks at bay, make sure that you let your arms hang naturally from your shoulders at address, with maybe a slight amount of reach toward the golf ball. Also, push your rear end back as though you’re getting ready to sit down in a chair. This will establish some room between your arms and body. If your hips and rear end pull in toward the ball during the downswing, your arms and hands will naturally get closer to the ball as well, which can easily lead to shanks.
Also, try putting three or four tees about one-eighth-inch to a quarter-inch beyond the toe of your club. When you swing, make sure that you don’t hit the tees. Avoiding the tees will keep you from extending so much that you hit the ball with the hosel.
A square putterface and a straight-back, straight-through path are crucial fundamentals for a solid stroke. These two elements control direction, which is undeniably one of the two most important aspects of good putting.
However, perhaps the most important fundamental, rhythm, is often overlooked. Rhythm establishes the steadiness of the putting stroke and is the main factor in controlling distance and speed. Regardless of whether your tempo is fast or slow, the clubhead should move at a constant pace going back and coming forward. If your putting stroke accelerates too quickly or decelerates abruptly at impact, it’s extremely difficult to control the distance of the putt.
The sure sign of a stroke with good rhythm is one where the backstroke and followthrough move at the same speed and are of equal lengths. A stroke with good rhythm is often described as a “pendulum” stroke. However, this term implies that the putter swings itself from a fixed point. Instead, it would be more appropriate to think of the stroke as being powered by the arms and shoulders while the putter is kept from swinging on its own.
When the arms and shoulders control the putter, good rhythm is much easier to achieve because there’s no independent motion of the putterhead. Focusing on moving the arms and shoulders (while controlling the putter) at the same speed and the same distance back and through will ensure solid contact and consistent control over the distance of your putts.
Cheat sheet - pay attention to the gradient or natural rises and falls on the green. Try to compensate. Aim to get within 10 inches of the hole if you are not sure. That way you have lined the ball up for a sure putt.
Getting a feel for putting
1) To create a feel for your putting try the following:LINE UP THREE BALLS about 10 feet from the cup.
Stroke the first two while keeping your eyes focused on the hole. Don’t look at the ball; just make good strokes and look at the cup.
2) Next, address your ball normally, but rather than becoming “ball bound,” retain the image you had when you looked at the hole.
That is, in your mind’s eye, picture the hole position while you make a stroke. Feel the difference?
3) Staying visual like this improves not only your distance, but also your accuracy.
It eliminates unnecessary technical thoughts, too.
4) ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT keys to good putting is to be able to roll the ball end over end.
It seems simple enough to do, but if the ball isn’t struck solidly, it’ll “wobble” and go off line.
5) A great way to practice this is to draw a line around your ball with a Sharpie or pernemant marker.
Once you’ve done that, find a straight putt and aim the line at the hole and see if you can get it to roll end over end, staying straight the entire length of the putt.
If the line doesn’t stay straight, you’re not putting a solid, centered stroke on the ball.
Continue practicing this drill until the ball rolls and the line doesn’t “wobble” from side to side.
If you can consistently do that, then you’ve found a stroke that’ll stay on the line you’ve intended..