Monday, April 20, 2020

Putter Weight Influence Part 3

When we talk about developing a feel for speed control in putting, we are discussing controlling effort and momentum. How much effort does it take to get the putter started, to change directions at the end of the backswing, and how much effort to arrive at the ball in the proper position and speed.

It doesn't take much to find discussions on how to apply the effort. You will hear and read plenty about how to control effort. For example, in our online course, Burnt Edges identifies the initial source of the movement and the sequence of movement that brings you back to the ball. Do you control effort with your core, your shoulders, your hands or a combination? But even if you identify the source of the effort you have only solved part of the problem. More important is when do you apply the effort? Unfortunately, that subject has been one of those you are basically left to discover on your own, unless you are working with a knowledgeable instructor.

As much as any other factor, understanding timing is the key to better putting. The timing of your stroke is integral to controlling the putter face, speed and position at impact, no matter how you perceive the task. Timing is typically measured in two ways. Total time to impact and the ratio of backswing time to forward swing to impact. Total time of the stroke is another measurement you might see. But it is an indirect way of analyzing as the follow through portion is a variable that has an indirect influence on impact.

I have quite a large data base of measurements. The median time for all strokes to impact is 1 second. I might as well save myself the analysis as that is the conclusion of most diagnostic technology manufacturers. I have seen successful strokes as quick as .75 and as slow as 1.3. I use 1 second as a reference between up tempo strokes and slower tempo strokes. Are you more like Brandt Snedeker around .7 or Loren Roberts at 1.2?  It helps as we examine time to impact that we measure in 3 intervals. I like 5 feet, 15 feet and 30 feet. Not as much for convenience but these are distances centered in ranges the statistics people have identified as crucial to scoring. Many are surprised to learn that in the best performers, there is little difference in time to impact between the three distances. They use different length strokes, at a different pace, within a similar time frame.

Me at 600 grams total weight.
The next step in understanding effort and timing is to consider the ratio of backswing time to time to impact. This ratio is often shown as backswing to forward swing. The accepted range is around 2-1, where the backswing takes twice as long as the forward swing. Again, I don’t consider this as the target score! Only a reference number. If you like a slow backswing and an accelerating stroke through the ball then your ratio is going more than 2-1. Some players are a little quicker in the backswing and apply less effort going forward, so their forward swing time will be a bit slower. Remember your best putting stroke is like a fingerprint. Every successful one is a little different than another.
Bruce at 545 grams total weight.
Now, I have said all that to tell you this. Nothing has more influence on the timing of your putting stroke than the weight of the putter! You can practice for three months with your current putter and not achieve the results you can in 10 strokes with a weight change. It has taken me 10 years of research to understand it, but now that I do I can see a clear path to helping players more quickly. If on your own or with your instructor you think timing creates an issue in your stroke, first consider the overall weight of your putter and how that weight is distributed. Then remember that lighter is faster and heavier is slower. You might save yourself some time. Stay safe!


Sunday, April 12, 2020

Does your Putter need a Diet? Part 2

Last week we started a discussion about how the weight of your putter can influence your stroke. As we discuss weight there are two things to consider.  First, is the overall weight of the putter. This is usually measured in grams and can range from 500 to 700 grams. The second is how the weight is distributed across the putter. Traditionally, this has been expressed as swing weight. Over the past couple of years, I have been looking for a more accurate description. We have an in-house procedure that in its basic form tells us if the putter is head heavy or grip heavy. As putter design has evolved and more options have been provided for all components, this creates a new set of variables to consider as you look for the tool to match the task. The problems to consider in simple terms are more weight or less weight and where do you put it.

Here is an example I see quite often.  A top-level player, coached by one of my clients, was fit by a manufacturer at their facility. She was fit in the recommended model of putter, at a length and lie. When the player was asked her preference pertaining to weight the reply was, “I prefer heavy”. The fitter put more weight where it was easiest to add the weight, all in the putter head. The putter spec’d at swing weight D-8.5 and an overall weight of 565 grams at 34 inches. When you look at the stats alone there would be no reason for alarm. A little heavier than standard swing weight and total weight, but that was the player’s preference.

Now let’s talk about issues we see with this player. The primary complaint was a right miss and a tendency to leave the ball short. At impact, the putter is delofted an average of 3+° at impact with a static measurement of 3° of putter loft. The illustration below is what we see on Capto. I do not have permission to share the player’s personal information, so I have cut the bottom of the screen image. First, we know from years of looking at reports combined with player interviews that forward shaft lean is often an anti-pull compensation. Next, without getting too deep in the weeds about personal coaching preferences concerning launch angle and the loft / putter rise angle combination as it pertains to roll, I can suggest without any reservation, when you get a negative loft angle at impact, regardless of rise angle, you run into problems. We have discussed this in previous posts at https://bargolfinstruction.blogspot.com/2018/02/the-diagram-above-is-meant-to-depict.html .

In this case it is a problem, not because it happens every time but because it happens randomly, which is worse. Most putts for this player are launched around 1 degree or less, and a sense of feel is developed based on that launch condition. But in this case, there is a tendency to deloft more often than add loft and those putts that launch into the ground don’t roll out the same. This changes the feel for speed and creates doubt during the round. If 2.5 mph rolls the ball 10 feet at a 1° launch. That is our expectation. But a -1° degree launch is unpredictable, but more likely dependent on ground conditions. Cruising through the round and things are going well, then drive one into the turf and get an unexpected result. Now the second-guessing takes hold and our rhythm and confidence is in doubt. The first Capto screen capture shows the putter coming into the ball and you can see the evidence of the putter lean. From a putter perspective we must ask if by driving the ball into the ground we bring friction into play early and at a higher level than if we had launched the ball clean. Does this launch condition and increased friction impact the ball speed?  
The next example is the same player, same stroke. In this case we are looking at the acceleration profile of the putter stroke and the speed the acceleration creates. In this graph the green line represents a pendulum movement of the putter. The yellow line is the point in the stroke where the putter transitions from backswing to forward swing. The purple line is the bottom point in the arc.

In the interview with Tony Wright https://gameimprovementgolf.com/149-putter-weighting-101-bruce-rearick-interview/ I mentioned the analogy of a huge tanker. I think that best describes what we see in a pendulum acceleration profile. The boat/putter starts in one direction with the hammer down. As it gets closer to its end it reverses the engines, but momentum carries it in the same direction until you reach the end of the backswing. Therefore, you see the acceleration in the opposite direction even while the boat/putter moves to the end of the backswing. Then as it comes forward the initial acceleration or effort peaks and a combination of gravity and momentum takes it to impact. In our player’s profile we see no effort in the backswing, very little effort in the forward swing until about halfway to impact. The assumption is this is a function of control. The player controls the effort all the way through the stroke, then hammers the putter as if she is trying to beat a yellow caution light.

Why does this happen? Slow back and delofted has been a common teaching method. But in this case if you ask if it is intentional the answer is no. My contention is this is a reaction to a putter that is too heavy. The head lags as the putter comes forward. Momentum combined with effort carries the putter to the ball at an increasing rate. Yet, notice how the effort falls off dramatically at impact while the speed shown below does not. If the effort was maintained the speed increase would be more dramatic and the ball would go miles past the hole. What you can’t see from these graphs is the slight tendency to recoil at the end of the follow through. For this player the solution is a work in progress. Not because of a lack of a plan, but because brand loyalty inhibits our options. Another story for another day.

If you have any questions about the graph or using Capto feel free to contact me. I will be glad to explain how I use it and my interpretation of the data.




Sunday, April 5, 2020

Does your Putter need to go on a Diet?

I recently recorded a podcast with Tony Wright of Game Improvement Golf. I strongly urge you to learn more about Tony at his website https://gameimprovementgolf.com/. It is an amazing resource and I think he mentioned I am podcast #149. I am honored every time he asks me to participate as it is an impressive list of interviews.
https://gameimprovementgolf.com/149-putter-weighting-101-bruce-rearick-interview/
Our topic for this session was the influence of putter weight on the stroke. Tough subject to cover in 45 minutes, and I have been kicking myself on missing some points I consider important.

Let me say from the start that I am in firmly in the stable that believes too heavy is more detrimental to your stroke than too light. Controlling the speed and direction a golf ball travels is all about that first word, control. Unfortunately, when it comes to putters there is a tendency to choose what we prefer over what we need. Considering the weight you prefer, it helps to remember the heavier the putter the more we cede control of the stroke to the putter. Eventually the putter swings you rather than you swinging the putter. That heavier weight can give you a false sense of control. Your stroke feels slower and smoother, but your results don’t match your feel.

To control how far the ball rolls, you must consider many things, most important is speed of the putter at impact and the launch conditions of the ball leaving the putter. These are the main contributors to how fast the ball is moving when it starts true roll. True roll is the point when gravity and friction overcome the initial ball velocity and the ball no longer skids. Usually between 5 and 20 percent of the distance the ball travels. Speed at true roll is the most important parameter in determining distance. Right away some are going to say I skipped where I strike the ball on the face as a factor.  I think this is secondary as I can overcome a poor hit with more speed. Tour guys do it all the time. Doesn’t feel the same, but that is a story for another day.

I recently started using a new technology for me, produced by CaptoGolf from Italy. It has given me a new perspective on the data I have collected over the years. As I measure putts, I can clearly see the influence of putter weight in what we call the transition areas. A putter changes direction several times in a putting stroke. It has to start away from the ball, it has to move vertically as it follows the arc defined by the stroke, it has to stop at the end of the back swing then turn and start back toward the ball. All with the hopes that it is moving at the proper speed, with the proper launch conditions in two planes, vertical launch and horizontal direction. When the putter is too heavy, controlling the putter at all these points becomes difficult. Basically, once it gets started it becomes difficult to get it to stop. Especially on short putts that require a shorter stroke.

The following is a screen shot from a measurement using Capto. The player uses an extremely heavy putter. It weighs in excess of 650 grams, total weight. The picture shows the position of the putter-face relative to the path the putter moves. The green line represents the path and the aqua line represents the position of the face relative to the green line. Below the green line is closed to the path and above the green line is open. The putter is opening as the line moves up and closing as it moves down. The yellow vertical line represents the end of the back swing and start of the forward swing. Even if you have never seen this representation before you notice the blue line is moving all over the place. There is a lot to talk about in this stroke, but for today I would ask you to focus on the transition of backswing to forward swing at the yellow vertical line. Basically, you are looking at a total loss of control in the transition.



Our goal is to have more stability along the path. More like this….


I know there are some instructors out there who would try to fix this problem with by working with the player mechanics and there is no reason not to go down that path. But in this case, her coach and I are convinced this is a function of reaction to putter weight. Time will tell and unfortunately, we are in a delay and won’t be able to measure the results of a lighter putter with the same specifications. But for the time being I will take her word for it that it is easier. More to come. Stay Safe out there and if you have time listen to the podcast.


Sunday, March 15, 2020

QuickTip 28



The first step in putting better is simply to roll the ball where the putter or line on the ball or both is pointed, instead of swinging the putter to your perception of the end result. Green arrow instead of orange line.‬ @Captogolf


Monday, March 9, 2020

Quick Tip 27 Speed Control

‪I see many conversations concerning speed control when putting. Almost always the conversation concerns lag putting. I would suggest understanding speed requirements on short putts inside 8 feet? a more beneficial conversation. Often a #burntedge is a product of too much speed!‬

Friday, March 6, 2020

Quick Tip 26

‪One of the reasons we offered the 9Profiles. I spent years watching Arnold Palmer make this stroke, with great success. I also watched him struggle when someone suggested a straighter pattern, rather than taking the putter inside. Putt your way! ‬