My husband Paul is always saying, “The putting will come.” That’s one of the biggest set backs to executing amazing scores when the girls’ have been so successful striking the ball. Play a tournament and 3-putt four times, that became a norm. Yes, they should work on putting. Yes, they should practice putting more than anything else in their game. But, do they want to practice that much putting?
We try as parents to be reasonable. There are girls out there who practice 3 hours of putting a day, yes, girls. Little 9, 10, 11 and 12 year old girls who don’t seem to mind focusing on short game for all hours of the day and it certainly reflects on their scores. But, my girls won’t do it. No, I couldn’t even bribe them to practice putting for more than an hour.
Paul has taught them some games and it certainly helps that we have siblings that both play. But, we get half an hour, 45 minutes tops of them focused on the greens. My thoughts would wander to trying different putting techniques, hiring expensive coaches, looking for good audio books. But, as Paul would say, “I’m not worried about it, it will come.” And, over these past couple of months it did.
Our 12 year old Kayla who has always been known for her distance off the tee, but poor short game, went from a 2.3 USGA Handicap Index to a +.9 over the past few months. Our 10 year old Nalani who isn’t known for her distance but her short game seems to be taking a little flip flop. She was recently fitted with a custom Cobra driver and is enjoying out driving her competition. But, her short game was not stellar last week at the IMG Junior World Golf Championship. She still finished T11 in a field of 66 while older sister Kayla finished T7 in a field of 81 of the best players in the world.
For anyone with a junior golfer hoping to see some improvement in their game, my best suggestion would be to focus on one thing at a time. Of course, go to the range and the practice greens like you normally would, but try to nail down one big area she may be struggling with. When spectating, don’t focus so much on the score, focus on the consistent misses, ie., 3-wood fading, driver hooking, etc. Pick one thing that seems to be a consistent miss on the golf course, and work on that for a few weeks. Then, once that aspect of the game seems to be working, look for something else.
For Kayla, it was her pitch shots. Those 40, 50, 60 & 70 yard shots that she would have after hitting an amazing drive off the tee or after advancing the ball so well with her 3-wood. Then, she would hit a pitch shot and still leave herself a very long lag putt, or miss the green altogether. So, we worked on pitch shots and within 2 months, she started to consistently post under par scores. she gave herself more birdie opportunities and spare those save par problems that she would have in the past.
Hope that helps you a bit, it is a process and takes time. Don’t let the pressure of other players’ successes frustrate you, each child will mature to their skill level at different times and remember, it’s golf.