A Lesson Learned: Long and short of it

A Lesson Learned
The PGA of America
Jeff Coston tied for low PGA Club Professional honors at the Senior PGA Championship.
Jeff Coston, PGA

Problem Area: Off The Tee
Series: Lesson Learned

Published: Monday, May 27, 2013 | 12:04 a.m.

Another Senior PGA Championship in the books and what a great week it's been. I'm so grateful to the PGA of America for the first-rate championship it conducts and for the opportunity they provide club professionals like myself to play and test our game against the best players in the world.

For this week's "A Lesson Learned" I'd take away two important points that meant so much to me this week and will certainly help every golfer.

1.) When you come to a major championship, every player will tell you that the key to winning is controlling the speed of your putts. To that I say..."Yes!" The greens you putt on at home may not roll at the same championship speeds that Bellerive had this week, but whatever the speed they roll, you have to be confident that any putt you take will either go in or leave you with a comfortable (and hopefully tap-in) distance.
I see far too many amateur players tie themselves up in knots trying to read the line and not respect the speed of the putt enough. My guess is, the average energy and thought to each putt by amateur golfers is 80 percent read, 20 percent speed. I say it should be the reveresed. If you concentrate more on the right speed, you'll be a better putter. Speed dictates line anyways and if you have the right speed, you can trust more. The reason people three putt is rarely because they have a bad line, it's because they did not have the right speed.

2.) Another golf maxim that I think is overstated is that "golfers spend too much time on the range working on driving" (and thus, by default, not enough on their short game.) Of course your short game is critical but so is your driving. It's no secret in golf: If you cant drive, you wont' have any fun playing golf. So my tip on driving is - curve your golf ball. Either left to right or right to left, know your shot pattern and play to that. None other than Jack Nicklaus told me that a straight was an accident.

These two areas of my game are two that I often focus on when I know I need to play my best. If I'm confident with my driver and I'm confident on the greens, I know I'm going to have a good round. I hope that's that case for you too.

Jeff Coston is the PGA Teaching Professional at Semiahmoo Resort in Blaine, Wash. Coston has played on the PGA Tour, played in 3 PGA Championships, 3 Senior PGA Championships and one U.S. Open. You can learn more about Jeff Coston at his website.

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