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It's important to receive putting instruction both on the practice green and during a practice round.
It's important to receive putting instruction both on the practice green and during a practice round. (Brandon Tucker/TravelGolf)

Golf lessons with a PGA Professional can help improve your short game

Chris Czaja, PGABy Chris Czaja, PGA,

Need help with your short game? Want to shoot lower scores in the near future?

Take a few lessons with your local PGA Professional, and spend half of the time on putting and the other half on the golf course.

For example, let's say you take two one-hour golf lessons. Start off with whatever part of your swing needs the work. Show the pro what your problem shot is. Work to correct the issue.

Next, go to the putting green, and work on the putting stroke. Most of the golfers I ask say that putting is not their strong suit. They state that it is probably the weakest link. So the first half hour is on the swing, and the next 30 minutes is on putting technique.

I can show a student a lot in 30 minutes. During some lessons, I even video the golfer making putting strokes. Feedback is key. The putting stoke is a simple action. Correct form is fairly simple. I am always amazed how creative golfers get when it comes to making a simple putting swing.

If you are not a great putter, and you currently use a non-conventional method, I think you should consider reviewing some basics with your pro, such as: reverse over-lap grip; flat left wrist; ball left center; no wrist action; stance 12-inches apart; ball 12 inches from front of feet; center of golf ball opposite sight line on putter; swing putter with shoulder; and no lower body movement

Practice these basics on a putting green until comfortable. Next, take the next hour-long lesson on the golf course. Yes, a playing lesson. Spend the entire hour on the course learning how to read the greens better and how to lag your first putt closer to the hole.

One basic rule I have golfers follow is that if you are outside four paces from the hole, just go for a two putt. Work on your distance control. Three-putting is caused by poor distance control on the first putt and by bad green reading or a combination of both. Most putting greens are relatively flat, whereas greens on the golf course have much more slope.

Spending time with a pro and talking about how to play these breaking putts can help. Hitting extra putts on the course late in the day to get experience at playing more break can be a fantastic learning experience. I highly recommend this type of lesson and practice for improving your putting.

Have you ever watched a tour pro play a practice round? Watch what they do on the greens. Typically, they putt several balls from different locations. They watch how the ball rolls across the green. This improves feel and increases the chance for success on the greens.

In review, take a couple of lessons. Spend half the time on putting technique lesson one. The next lesson is on the golf course. Become a good green reader. Practice on the course if possible, and gain experience in rolling the ball on greens that have more break. Work on distance control.

Your scores are going to drop, and you will be developing a solid short game.

Chris Czaja is the 2010 PGA Teacher of the Year for the South Florida Section and was named the 2009 Southeast Florida PGA Teacher of the Year. Czaja is a graduate of East Carolina University and has also been one of the top playing professionals in the South Florida PGA Section. As a PGA Professional, Chris has won numerous Chapter and Section PGA events. He has played in three National Club Professional Championships and was a member of three South Florida PGA Cup Teams. He also spends significant time involved in national and community charities. To book lessons, he can be reached at chris.czaja@pga.com and (561) 213-9213 or via christianczaja.com.

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