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A PEARL IN THE SKY: A full moon rises over the Bear River Mountains. / Photo by Ted Pease

Today's word on journalism

September 18, 2008

Partisan politics:

"Say 'conservative' and they wag their tails. Say 'liberal' and they bare their fangs. More to the point, say either and all thinking ceases. . . . [P]eople hear this doublespeak and cheer. Why not? They have been taught that words mean what you need them to in a given moment. Turns out, all it requires is a limitless supply of gall and the inherent belief that people are dumber than a bag of hammers."

--Leonard Pitts Jr., Pulitzer-winning columnist. The Miami Herald, 2008 (Thanks to alert WORDster Jerry Vonderbrink)

Speak up! Comment on the WORD at

http://tedsword.
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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Tips for Better Golf: Improve your putting

Editor's note: This is the third in a series of five columns on common golf problems.

By Josh Perry

July 14, 2008 | Anyone can use a few more strokes off their game. Improve your putting and you will definitely achieve this. Putting is by far the most important part of golf, besides the mental aspect. Everyone has missed those par saving putts or those six footers for birdie. If you want to shoot lower and keep your scores consistent, try spending more time on the putting green and less time practicing being the long ball hitter.

Putts from six feet and in should be made eight times out of 10. Professional golfers can make seven to eight out of 10 putts from 10 feet and in. This is how they manage to keep a round respectably, where the average golfer would miss and make bogey or double. One problem with the average golfer is that most donít spend enough time on the practice putting green. If they do spend time there, they are not practicing the way they should. One technique to practice is the tee technique. If you watch the pros practice their putting a lot of times they wonít be putting to the designated holes but they will putt to golf tees that they place on the green. This is a very simple way to help improve your putting.

Start off by placing a golf tee in the green so itís sticking up, like you would if you were teeing off. Try to pick somewhere flat to start. Place a ball every 2 feet away from the tee, so you would put one at 2 ft., then 4 ft., then 6 ft., etc. until you get around 10 ft. away. Start with the two foot putt and make your way back until you finish the line of balls. Try not to move the next ball until you have made the one before. Once you have made all the balls try moving the tee to different spots on the green. Youíre not going to have every putt be flat and straight so move the tee around so the putts have some sort of break either to the right or left, up or downhill. Try not to move to different spots of the green until you have made all of the putts on the previous hole. This practicing technique can also be used when chipping around the green. Instead of chipping to a hole, try chipping to a golf tee. If you can hit that little tee the majority of the time you should be able to make it in the cup. Not only will this help your putting but it will also help you mentally when faced with those par savers.

The most important thing to remember about putting is making sure your putter goes straight back and straight forward. The tendency is to take the putter back straight but then try to force the ball to the hole on the follow through. Thatís when a lot of golfers pull or push their putts. A good practicing technique for this is to set the putter head on the ground about five feet from the hole. Put one tee just past the toe of the putter and one just behind the heel. Leave enough room for the putter head to just fit through. Then make a line of about four to five tees behind the ones that were placed. There should be around five on each side resembling a hallway. Put the ball in-between the front tees and putt through the tees to the hole. If you lined your tees up right, you should make the putt almost every time. This helps you to keep that putter face square and go where you intended it to go.

Finding the right speed for putts is a difficult thing. There are a lot of factors to think about. One practice suggestion is to putt from far away, up to holes down to holes. If you are working on putting speed always move around and putt from different distances every time you putt. If you putt from 20 feet one time, move up to eight feet the next time. Itís not going to be as helpful to sit and putt 10 putts from the one spot then move on to a different distance. All youíre doing is getting used to that length putt, then when you move to a closer putt, you will either leave it short or hit it too far. Always change the distances each time you putt. You will learn faster changing every putt than if you sit at one spot for a while then move to another. Train your muscles to get used to different length putts each time.

One other helpful tip when working on distance is to bring the putter back the same length that you follow through. If you have a two-foot putt you would take the putter back around a foot and you would follow through a foot. Doing this helps a lot on longer putts. If you slow your putting stroke down a little and just make a bigger swing at the ball, you will not only get the speeds down but you will also hit the ball more accurately toward the hole. When you practice like this, it helps your body to remember how much to take the putter back and through for different length putts. Try to avoid short quick putting strokes. Those are sure to make you miss. Make sure your putting stroke is smooth and under control.

To be a better putter takes a lot of practice. You need to spend at least the same amount or even more time on putting than on your long game. Putting is the hardest part of golf so it requires the most practice. Also have putting contests with friends. You will always concentrate more if you are trying to beat someone else than if you are doing it by yourself. It makes something that may seem boring a little more fun to practice.

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