Golf Column

Don’t HiBore-nate this winter

By Paul Viau | Nov 12, 2013
Photo by: File Paul Viau

As I write this column, the daytime high temperatures are down in the 40’s and the first snow of the season is forecast for early next week — the very day after you will be reading this.
If you are a golfer, don’t despair. I have a plan for you — after you stock up on bread, milk and other essential groceries — and get your firewood ready — head to your favorite box store and pick-up a 12-16-foot indoor/outdoor carpet runner.
Your wife will want you to use this runner between the woodpile and the fireplace, or in the hallway, next to the mudroom, but ‘man up.’ Simply tell her that you are a golfer, you have the balls, and this carpet is for your new practice putting area.
Oh yes, you might want to have your putter in your hand (for self-defense) before you make this declaration.
Seriously, though, the winter months are a great time for you to improve your putting skills. On the days you can’t golf or get to a driving range, spend a few minutes doing putting drills.
Practice what my friend and golf instructor, Vince Granese, says, “Lock your wrists, and use only your arms as a pendulum. Take the putter straight back, and follow the same line straight through. Keep your hands out of it. Don’t push the ball. Let the weight of the putter do the work for you.”
Granese, who has a 30-foot-long putting area in his ‘man cave’ in Clyde, has won hundreds of golf tournaments using this simple technique. And even though he fabricates and sells custom putters, Granese will be the first to tell you, “It’s not the putter that misses putts, it’s the person who is holding the putter.”
All these years, I thought that putters came with a ‘Mojo,’ which, from my experience, comes and goes. You need several putters so you can always switch over to one that is currently exhibiting ‘Mojo.
Oh yes, and for your practice golf cup, you don’t have to buy a plug-in contraption that kicks the ball back to you. Another golf ball or drinking glass on its side will do the trick. I have an electronic device that makes the sound of a ball going in the cup when you hit it, but I need more positive reinforcement than most golfers.
Again, make sure your length of carpet is low-pile, indoor/outdoor carpet without a pattern. It closely simulates the speed of a fast, well-groomed putting green.
If you are serious, you can record videos of your putting stroke with your iPhone, so you can see when your hand action gets in the way of a simple pendulum stroke, but you’ll be able to feel it.
Next column, I’ll have some “dress for success” pointers for getting out on the links during the winter, and some training tips from Trey Smith at Maggie Valley Club, one of the best teaching pros in the area. In the meantime, ‘get off your duff’ and start puttering around the house.

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