I love fast greens. As far as I'm concerned, they can't be fast enough, even when they're extremely sloped. That's when feel and imagination come into play the most.
Light, consistent grip pressure is one of the keys to negotiating lightning-fast greens. A lot of amateurs either grip the putter too tightly from the start or increase grip pressure during the stroke. Either way, they have trouble controlling pace, which is just as important as line. I ratchet down my grip pressure depending on the speed of the greens.
My grip pressure on an average tour green might be 5 on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the lightest and 10 the tightest. At the U.S. Open in June, my number was no more than 3. Gripping it light allows me to release the putterhead, a critical factor on super-fast greens.
Spinning shots from the sand:
Because of the way I learned to release the club during my recent swing change, two of my favorite shots--the spinner from the sand and the flop shot--suffered for a while. I?ve always played both shots with a lot of hand action, and the hands are restricted in my new swing. Over the past six months, though, I?ve regained the touch, especially on the bunker shot to a close pin, where you have to get it up quickly and stop it fast.
Here?s how I play it. I grip the club a little more in my fingers to get more flip in my release. This is one time when I think the flip is good. Then, I open my stance, play the ball well forward and lay the clubface wide open but square to the target line. I make a vertical backswing, which sets up a steeper angle of descent into the sand. The key is increased clubhead speed through impact, so I really fire the club through with my right hand. The ball comes out high and soft and settles fast after landing.
How to hit it higher:
Occasionally, I'll take a bigger divot, trying to really spin the ball. Other than that, my technique doesn't change: I play the ball just forward of center, trap it against the turf at impact and stay connected (upper body and lower body) to a high finish.
Turn your chest:
So many times I see my amateur partners butcher a simple pitch shot because of poor technique, anxiety or both. The biggest reason for their failure is that the upper body stops moving through impact, causing a slight mis-hit at best--at worst, they lay the sod over it or blade it.
One of the keys to consistently good pitching is keeping your chest turning toward the target on the through-swing. Your arms and shoulders follow your chest, not vice versa. Look at it this way: If your chest moves away from the ball on the backswing, your shoulders and arms also move. Therefore, if your chest moves back toward the target, your shoulders and arms will follow.
That positive momentum, not the hands and arms moving by themselves, is what propels the ball. Try to "hit with your chest" on pitch shots. I promise you'll make better contact with the ball and hit it closer to the hole, giving yourself more par-save opportunities.