The Golf Hall of Famer visits Armonk’s Summit Club for short game clinic to help Westchesterites improve their game.
There are three keys to sinking putts under pressure, according to LPGA legend Jan Stephenson, whose 41 worldwide victories including three U.S. majors, indicate she knows whereof she speaks. Stephenson spoke at The Summit Club after touring the newly-renovated golf course in Armonk.
Teaching from the expansive practice green at the club, Stephenson said there are many different ways to putt, none of which are wrong, but there are three practices that will improve your success no matter the method you choose.
First, she says practice a stroke of equal length going back and going forward like a metronome. Lengthen or shorten the stroke on both sides of the ball depending on the length of the putt and the speed of the green so that your ball will come to rest exactly twelve inches beyond the hole if it doesn’t go in. Since speed is more important than the line, practice at constantly changing distances to gain a feel for how hard you need to hit the ball.
Secondly, never let the head of the putter get ahead of your hands. That indicates you’ve flipped your wrists and makes it impossible to control your distance. Grip any way you like—traditional, left-hand low, claw or pencil—but keep your wrists firm.
Finally, develop—and use!—a pre-putt routine. When Stephenson steps up to her putt, she looks at the hole, taps the putter twice on the ground behind her ball, then immediately strokes the putt. “You must be in motion at all times over the putt,” she says, “or you will freeze and jerk the putter instead of stroking it smoothly.
Stephenson says her putting routine is what allowed her to make the ultimate pressure putt, a twelve-footer on the 18th green to avoid a three-way playoff and clinch the 1983 U.S. Women’s Open.
The Summit Club’s front nine is open for play and memberships are being accepted. The back nine is growing in and is expected to open in mid-summer.