Start golf season with easy strokes before booming the driver

Community: Golf tips from Steve Charters

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Editor’s note: Steve Charters is in his 15th year as a pro at Twin Pines Golf Course. Born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Charters competed at Central College in Pella and has been a pro for 22 years in Dubuque and Cedar Rapids.

CEDAR RAPIDS — A new season is upon us early this year.

And while you’re itching to get the driver out to start blasting away on the range, I challenge you to take a different approach to getting back at it. One that focuses your attention to the center of the clubface.

Start out by getting your putter out and getting consistent at hitting the ball off the center of the clubface.

To practice this, you can spray some powder spray (Gold Bond for example) on either on the ball or the putter face and make a stroke to see where the ball is coming off the putter face and adjust accordingly if needed.

A drill to help get better centered hits is to set two tees in the ground, one a quarter inch outside the heel of the putter and another a quarter inch outside the toe of the putter. Practice putting with the putter head in between these tees. If your putter head is not striking either tee, then you’re making solid contact off the center of the face.

As you improve start giving yourself longer and longer putts.

Once you’re consistently doing that, then grab a sand wedge or pitching wedge and start chipping. Once again, try to get that ball to roll off the center of the clubface consistently. Give yourself longer and longer chips. Then head to the driving range and start taking half swings or hitting short pitch shots until you get consistent hitting the center of the face.

So start by getting consistent in finding the center of the clubface with your putter and shorter chips and pitches before venturing into the full swing irons and woods.

After all, if you can’t find the center of the face with the short strokes how do expect to find it with longer strokes?

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