All golfers have "milestone" scores they're looking to conquer. Over the next three weeks, we've enlisted the help of PGA Professional Rob Labritz for the best practices for tackling the barriers for breaking 100, 90 and 80.
In this week's first installment, Labritz offered up his tips for the golfer looking to creep out of the triple digits. Even if you're a better player, it might not be a bad idea to review Labritz's advice.
If you want to break 100, Labritz stressed that his most important suggestion would be this: Instead of going out to work on your full swing, work from the green backwards.
"I do this with all my students," Labritz said. "Most times, a student tells you their goal and then the pro gets to work on their swing. Not me. I go in the opposite direction. I start with work on the putter, then we get to chipping and work our way back to the tee. Since most of your strokes are going to come around the green, doesn't it make most sense to shore up that part of your game?"
If you start from the green and work backwards, Labritz said, milestones become significantly easier to attain.
"When you're putting, pay particular attention to positioning," he said. "Make sure the ball is forward of your sternum and the palms oppose each other when you grip the club. If you do that, the club will swing back in the motion it's supposed to creating a more consistent stroke."
Labritz encourages the higher-handicap player to focus on the "Iron-Cross Putting Drill."
"I like to stick tees in the practice green measuring 3 feet, 4 feet and 5 feet from the hole," Labritz said. "Find some slope and set those tees around four sides of the hole so you have a straight uphill putt, a left-to-right-putt, a straight downhill putt and a right-to-left putt from each distance."
Practice those putts over and over from each distance, Labritz said, until you're able go around the hole from each spot missing only 2-3 putts. The more you practice this drill and get to the point where you can complete it with no misses, Labritz made a guarantee: "You'll be breaking 100 in no time."
The next area of focus becomes chipping, where it's all about feel.
Labritz has a sensational routine that will help you develop that feel.
"Start 3-5 yards off the green," he said. "Hit little chips to 5 yards and go in 3-yard increments with each club. Use one chipping swing with same hardness and length (hip to hip) and use 12 different clubs and pay attention to the different roll out. If you do it properly, your sandwedge will go six paces; your gap wedge will go nine paces; your pitching wedge will go 12 paces. Then, go in 4-yard increments from the 9-4 irons. The 9-iron will go 16 paces, etc. Using all those clubs, you work on one little swing. That will help you into full swing while, most importantly, developing touch."
Rob Labritz, who has played in four PGA Championships (he was low-Club Professional in 2010 at Whistling Straits), is currently the Director of Golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in BedFord Hills, N.Y. He was also the PGA Met Section Player of the Year in 2008 and 2013, as well as the Westchester Golf Association's Player of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2015. You can learn more about Labritz at www.RobLabritz.com and you can follow him on Twitter, @Rlabritz.
This week we pitched a question to our nearly 350,000 strong friends in PGA.com Facebook Nation. We asked you: What has been the biggest highlight of YOUR golf life?
We all know about the remarkable highlights throughout the careers of players like Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, as most of them were documented on video. But what about you?
Well over 200 of our friends were eager to tell us. You can click here to join the conversation.
Here's a collection of our favorite answers:
Wayne Hathcock: Taking my son on his first round ever today.
Ken Masterson: The relationships I've made over the years. The game itself has been fantastic, of course, but pales in comparison to the many lifetime friends I've made through golf.
Austen Massey: Breaking 85 at my home club in a high school district round in front of my grandfather. It was the only time he got to see me play.
Joshua Floyd Popour: Hole out from 160 with 50 foot elevation change off a cliff for bogey, LOL.
Rob Nutter: Albatross from 220. Threw my club in the air and ran all the way to the hole.
David Alexander: Having my son decide to play 5 years ago. It is awesome. Now I have a grandson who I hope to play with some day!
Nice exchange here:
Terry Gardner Sargent: My hole in one! Golfing with 2 of my guy friends and I'm the only girl... good times and their faces were priceless.
Tom Hunter: I hope they were happy and not jealous. I witnessed one hole-in-one by a friend of mine. He subsequently got another one a few months later.
Terry Gardner Sargent: Tom Hunter they were truly shocked, probably because I fell to the ground rolling all over hysterically crying and laughing at the same time. Ha ha.
Marty Lester: Golfing with my wife, a cancer survivor. She gives me love, patience, courtesy, and encouragement on the course and off. Also, Tania Lester witnessed my one and only hole-in-one, last year.
Mark Taylor: Watching my son sink a 30 foot birdie putt!! He was 14 at the time and a beginner. Was a great moment!
Vaughan Dibble: Meeting Gary Player and talking for around 15 minutes! Lovely man with time to speak to a 13 handicapper.
Jim Ryan: Walking on The Old Course at St. Andrews on a Monday morning, paying green fees of the equivalemnt of $38 (1983 and day after the inaugural Dunhill Cup) and shooting 87.
Mike Osterbur: Been playing the game for 45 years but two highlights I've experienced have occurred just in the past two years and neither involved swinging a golf club. One was being able to visit and walk the Old Course at St. Andrews on a gloriously sunny May morning and the second was coaching my high school golf team last fall.
Frank Capitano: Really only had one. A long time ago when I was 15, I had four birdies on the front nine in a junior golf tournament. Before that round I don't think I had 4 birdies in all the rounds I played before that, collectively. I haven't played that good a round of golf in the 47 years that followed. I dropped a lot of long putts to do it but did something really dumb and wound up selling the putter. Talk about your foolish moves.
Gordon Richard: I was playing in a sudden death play off in our league championship. On the right was a large marsh with one skinny tree in the middle, about 20 yards in. I hit the worst shank of my life into the marsh and somehow hit the tree... the ball hit the tree and bounced back into the fairway... I went on to win!
David White: Teaching about six dozen kids who went on to play college golf. I love it. But the coolest part is to watch these kids give back to the game as they get older.
Gunnar Varala: To play with my dad who is still strong at 86 years old. He is trying hard to get the number of strokes lower than his age. Sometimes he is succeeding.
Randy Myers: Had two aces in my life but the highlight has to be shooting 75 from the tips of the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.
Mark Davidson: Playing the Old Course at St. Andrews on saturday with Kevin Melvin Sim Reid, Paul Bolton and Locky Oloughlin. To play the holy grail and finish with the same ball I started with, not go in any bunkers and to break 80 was beyond my wildest dreams. Great company helped as well.
Aaron Singleton: Playing in Ryder cup style matches. Needing par to at least halve the match. My partner hit a tee shot behind some trees. 132 out. Had to go between two trees that were three feet apart. Put it in the front of the elevated green. We two putted for par for the win after they three jacked it.
Mark Ertel: Winning the 1975 State of Arkansas High School Golf Team Championship -- Blytheville High School. We won with one junior (me), two sophomores, and a freshman! None of us went on to compete in college, while many of those we beat did. We had some great times!
It might have been the easiest selection Lauren Coughlin had to make all day.
After becoming 2016 ACC Women's Golf Tournament medalist after shooting a final-round 70 at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., en route to a 9-under 270 total, the Virginia senior was ready to accept her award. However, boyfriend John Pond -- a member of the Virginia football team -- had an additional surprise for her.
Pond got down on one knee -- yep, you guessed it -- and proposed to Coughlin right there in front of the rest of the winning Virginia team.
Want proof? Here's how it looked on social media:
— ACC Women's Golf (@ACCWGolf) April 18, 2016
Coughlin said yes, got the trophy and will have one heck of a story to tell her children some day.
PGA of America Championships
Benton Harbor, Mich.
Sahalee Country Club
Baltusrol Golf Club
Hazeltine National Golf Club