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golf doctor; OFFICIAL.

Byline: Kevin Craggs

Dear Doc,

I AM an 18 handicapper and a senior citizen. I am happy with my game overall and read your column religiously to use the tips when they relate to my weaknesses or strengths.

If I had a strength in my game it was my putting but in the last few months this part of my game has suffered severely.

When I try to putt from inside five feet or less my hands seem to stall just on impact and the ball goes less then halfway. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I use a normal Zing bladed putter.

Alan McEwan (BARRHEAD)

Dear Patient,

There are various methods and drills to get things back on track but for me the most important thing to remember is not to complicate what is a natural and simple movement.

A common fault that poor putters make is they try too hard to make a perfect stroke and often find themselves watching the putter head move away from the ball which invariably starts to wobble completely, unsettling the rhythm of the stroke.

The first thing you must do is to make sure your body and head remain very still during the stroke - it is important you feel the shoulders rocking up and down like a see-saw. This will help keep the putter head on line. To help smooth out the stroke, practise a few putts with your right hand only.

Concentrate on making big smooth strokes as one of the first things to happen when a player's putting goes off is that the stroke becomes too short and too quick.

Providing you can keep the body and head still, allowing the putter head to swing and not steer through impact, your putting will soon return to good form.

Dear Doc,

I NOTICE all the pros have a straight left arm when swinging the club. Can you tell me if an aid is available to keep a straight left arm when practising and if so where can I buy one?

W Jamieson (EDINBURGH)

Dear Patient,

There are two simple ways to make sure your left arm remains extended in the backswing without any need for funky teaching aids.

The first is ensure your hips and shoulders are turning correctly in the backswing - the hips must turn 45 degrees and the shoulders 90 degrees at the top of the swing. If the body doesn't turn correctly the left arm is pulled across the chest making it almost impossible to keep the arm extended out.

Also remember to shorten the backswing to a three-quarter position. Because the swing is that bit shorter it makes it much easier to keep the left arm extended away from the body. But don't think because you have a shorter swing you will lose distance, the extra width in the swing will create a wider arc giving you much more power and control.

Dear Doc,

I PLAY off a handicap of two and hit the ball generally well. My problem is I have started to pull the ball to the left with my short irons and cut the ball to the right with my longer clubs.

I can't seem to get to the bottom of the problem and have noticed all my divots are pointing left of target.

Alan Cartwright (GLASGOW)

Dear Patient,

This problem is down to either an incorrect swing path or an incorrect clubface position at impact. A pull or cut shot would suggest you are swinging the club from outside to in.

Because the club is travelling on an outside-to-inside path the position of the clubface at impact determines whether the ball gets pulled to the left or cut to the right. If the club face arrives to the ball slightly closed a pull shot is produced. If the club arrives to the ball with an open face a slice shot is produced. This can happen if your alignment is incorrect and your shoulders are open (pointing left) in relation to your feet at address.

This will force you to swing the club on an outside-to-in swing path. The easiest way to fix this is to address the ball with your left hand on the club with your right side pulled back. Slowly place your right hand back on the club making sure your right shoulder does not push forward. Feet, knees hips and shoulders must all point parallel to your intended target. Finally, make sure when you look down towards your target the left shoulder is to the side of your chin.

Dear Doc,

LAST week in the medal my partner gave me a lollipop and what happened next was remarkable. As I took my address I pointed the stick of the lolly in my mouth at the ball and tried to keep it pointing there as I swung the club back. It made me keep my head perfectly still and I hit the ball fantastic. Do you think this is a good discovery?

Mo Jack (KILSYTH)

Dear Patient,

If it helps you steady your head and improves your strike I'd encourage your discovery. But if your head stays down too long during impact your right shoulder will hit the end of the lollipop stick, sending it into the back of your throat so it my be worth reconsidering your invention.

Kevin was named one of Britain's 25 best coaches by respected magazine Golf Monthly. Drop him a line by email to: info@kevincraggsgolf.com or write to: Golf Doctor, Daily Record, One Central Quay, Glasgow G3 8DA. Please include your name, address and daytime telephone number.

CAPTION(S):

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT: If the shoulders point too far to the left it will cause an out-to-in swing, left, but this can be cured using a pre-shot routine, middle - giving a perfect alignment, right
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 17, 2006
Words:971
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