Dear Friends,

Dr. Putt wishes all of you a Happy New Year and wants to thank all of you for making his first year a success. In the past year we have solved such mysteries as "plumb bobbing" and the difference between panic and choking. See these analyses under the 'Dear Dr. Putt" link.

If you have not visited the Dr. Putt site recently, you may want to look at a couple of interesting recent letters that Dr. Putt posted at "Dear Dr. Putt":

* "Marking the Ball" tells how pros, including Tiger, draw a line on the ball to help them aim. Go to the link to "Dear Dr. Putt" in the frame at the left and then to "Marking the Ball" in the alphabetical listing of letters.

* "Putting Routine and Marking the Ball" is a wonderful suggestion from a reader on how to build a putting routine on the aiming technique in "marking the ball." In the view of Dr. Putt, this provides an alternate step in the "5 steps" process that is well worth considering if you routinely mark a line on your ball and line it up with the intended putting line. Dr. Putt plans on printing this letter up and sending it out with each order of the EOB system and aiming and alignment device. Again Go to the link to "Dear Dr. Putt" in the frame at the left and then to "Putting Routine and Marking the Ball" in the alphabetical listing of letters.

In this newsletter Dr. Putt has a couple of suggestions that are especially good if you live in a cold climate and cannot get out to putt or play this winter. They also work in warm climates!

1) Dedicate the winter to stretching and strengthening.

Create a stretching routine for yourself and do it religiously each day. Dr. Putt stretches 15 minutes each morning shortly after getting out of bed. It is a great habit that not only improves flexibility, but also clears the head for the day's activities. Strengthen your hands and wrists by simply making a tight fist and then opening the hand as wide as possible. Do as many times as you can and then go to the other hand till tired. If time, perform the exercise with each hand twice. This can be done in the car on the way to work (it's safer than using a cell phone) or at the desk when you need a little mental break. It is a good tension reducer and also get the blood flowing. Dr. Putt also does this when he begins to feel sleepy at the desk or at the wheel on long trips.

2) Practice your turn in front of a mirror each day.

Players use a number of keys to triggering the downswing (e.g. turning the shoulders, or the sternum, which causes the shoulders and arms to move with it, kicking the trail leg knee in to start the wieght shift into that leg and not allow the leg to sway back, or a forward press with the hands) Regardless of which key you use, work on keeping the feeling over the winter. Simply stand in front of a full-length mirror, cross the hands on your chest (alternatively, hold the palms of the hands together in the same position as you would if gripping the club), and slowly execute the turn. Keep your arms straight as long as possible (that is, delay the folding of the right elbow as long as you can), to prevent the backswing from going inside and maximizing the width of the backswing. Or think about making the backswing long and low as you can--a useful thought given to Dr. Putt by his home teaching pro. Start very slow and work you way up to full speed. Make sure you execute a full turn. Start down slowly--not with the hands and arms, but with a weight shift and hip turn. The shoulders and arms and hands should follow and then only move on their own as the lead arm gets down to about the 45 degree mark (or 7:30 if you imagine a clock face). Complete the swing through the ball and pose at the end with a complete weight shift and hands high. Make sure that the head does not sway forward on the downswing - stay behind the ball with your spine tilted back (the ideal tilt is about 25 degrees). Come March or April, the swing will not feel like a new adventure for you.

Dr. Putt does at least 20 repetitions in front of a mirror almost daily. What is amazing is often we are not doing what we think we are doing. Looking at a mirror helps us see what we are really doing. If you have a garage or basement with high ceiling, use a real club and record a swing or two with a smart phone camera and play it back. If you have a slow motion feature, you can see if you are passing through the right positions. And at full speed, you can see if the whole swing looks fluid. Dr. Putt would recommend that you swing at no more than 60% speed. This is also a good idea on most of your shots on the course--you will make fewer mistakes and have a more fluid swing that way.

3) Putt over the quarter.

In the letter, "Anxiety and the case of the shrinking hole," Dr. Putt suggests a drill that is a great winter exercise. Rather than use one of those mechanical cups on the rug at home, use a coin as a target. The idea is to not only hit the coin, but to have the ball stop a little over a foot past the coin. This will make the hole seem really large when you get back to the course and will also help you strike the ball at optimal speed. When a quarter gets too easy, try a dime putt!

Again, thanks for your letters, and of course for your orders of the EOB Putting System that have enabled Dr. Putt to continue his column. Dr. Putt wishes you all fewer putts in the coming year!

Best regards,
Dr. Putt