Friday, December 14, 2007

Sight Lines on Putters

The United States Golf Academy and SMT Golf have recently combined in a joint venture to produce a limited edition putter. One of the goals of the joint venture between the Academy is to provide our customers access to all of the information we used in our design decisions for the Inaugural Putter. We have no secrets. You will never have to guess how we percieve a problem. SMT operates that way and so do we. None of us were interested in providing information just for marketing sake.

Our goal is help you putt better!!!!!

Every marketer in the world would tell us to put all kinds of "alignment aids" on our first offering. That is the current marketing sizzle. Unfortunately, if we are true to our word and we want to help you putt better, that might not be the way to go.
The following is a summary of why there are no sightlines on the Inaugural Edition Putter.
1. Everyone sees differently. Anyone who ever tried to hang a picture with more than one person in the room knows what I am talking about.
2. In putting everyone perceives the target differently. For example if I have trouble seeing straight lines, trying to use a linear strategy, line on ball, lines on putter, every putt is straight mentality, might cause more problems than offer solutions. If you are linear and you use a line on the ball, you probably don't need too much else. especially if...
3. Sight lines on putter do not always point the same direction as a perpendicular line from the face. Take a 2X4 and set it on the ground. Take your putter and square the face to the end of the board. Look at your alignment aid. Is it pointed in the right direction? You would be shocked how many are not and it really doesn't matter if it is or not. How it looks to you is all that matters.
4. The loft of the putter has some influence on this visual as well. With the face on the 2 X 4 move the shaft toward the target and away, keeping the face in the same position relative to the board. Does the line appear to change directions? Some designs are better than others, but more often than not this adds to the visual confusion. At the Academy we use Puttlab to see the change to 1/10 of a degree but if you can't come see us, this drill helps answer the question why changing a putter will often change a players position at address, especially where you play the ball in your stance and positon of hands at address. This makes customization difficult.
5. Every time you try something new you add a layer of information to your putting strategy. This gets complicated, but suffice to say for now that the more layers the more confusion, so much so that you are never quite sure when you get over a putt exactly what stroke you are going to use. Elimination of an incorrect visual reference helps strip away some of these layers. (see 6)
6. If your sight line is wrong and you use it as a crutch you can never be sure of your stroke. Was it Skill or Luck?
And how about the people who aim one way, hit the ball another direction and are absolutely some of the best in the world. Always consistent never perfect.
For the first putter we wanted to be as pure and simple as we could. By eliminating the sight line on this one we eliminate most of the problems listed above. The less visual confusion we can create, the more we can help you determine your own best aim and ailgnment strategy, NOT THE ONE WE THINK YOU NEED!
Finally and maybe most important. When helping our students at the Academy, taking the sight lines away, worked faster than any other suggestion. By far.
I guess this post could have been a little shorter.

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