You have an extra club in your bag and probably don't even know it. It's your putter, which, under the proper conditions, can replace your wedges and even short irons for shots from as far away as 50 feet off the green. When used from these locales, the putter is called the "Texas wedge."
That name apparently stuck once Texans began wielding their putters on longer shots from well off the green on the Lone Star State's sun-baked, hazard-free courses. But you don't have to be playing in the Southwest to make use of the Texas wedge. Consider using it whenever circumstances make putting easier than chipping.
Putting from Off the Green
The key factor in determining whether or not to putt from off the green isn't the length of the shot, but the nature of the intervening terrain. Whenever the grass is long enough to influence a putt's direction and speed, chip it. If the surface is firm and the grass cut to fairway length, putting is an alternative, but not advisable from more than 20 feet. If the ground is firm and the grass very short, you may want to try putting from as far as 50 feet.
Making solid contact is essential. Mishits will be exaggerated by the slower surface, and your attempts will come up well short. Your head and upper body must remain steady during the stroke; taking a slightly wider stance and flexing your knees will help you keep still.
Rest the putterhead lightly behind the ball, because pushing it into the grass could result in snagging on the takeaway. Also resist the temptation to pick up the club quickly with the wrists, as you do when chipping.
On the forward stroke, accelerate the putter through impact and keep the club moving toward the target. Striving for a full follow-through helps finish the stroke.
Drill: Carpet Putting
An excellent indoor putting drill that will sharpen your Texas wedge play is to practice on a shag carpet. The object is to make solid contact and get the ball rolling. A little work hitting "shag" balls will give you a lot more confidence when rolling the ball from off the green.
Private Lessons 1999 Time4 Media, Inc., used under license by GolfServ Online, Inc. Instructional information provided by Golf Magazine.