Thursday, March 6, 2008

Fast Track to Lower Scores
Putting is golf’s dirty little secret, a game within the game. In a typical round of golf you will use a putter anywhere from 20 to 40 times. For some who struggle, maintaining sanity becomes an issue, but all is not lost. At the United States Golf Academy we have devoted a great amount of time and resources studying the art of putting. To verify the results of our study we use Science and Motion PuttLab, an ultrasound device that measures 28 parameters of the putting stroke and is accurate to a millimeter in distance, one thousandth of a second in time, and one tenth of a degree in rotation, or the opening and closing of the face. After analyzing almost 6000 putting strokes we have come to the following conclusions:
There is no perfect method. A long time ago I heard a Hall of Fame golfer credit the key to his success to the fact that he didn’t waste any time looking for the perfect method, he spent all of his time perfecting his method. We all are completely unique. None of us process information the same way. We perceive things differently visually. What seems fast to one is slow to another. We come in a variety of shapes and sizes. So to think that there is one style or method to emulate is probably not very productive
Traditionally, there are three different ways you can learn to putt. One of the most common is to mimic a robotic model of the putting stroke. It is from these models of “perfection” that many putting aids are built. Another way is to mimic a successful player. While we all desire for the same levels of success, because of our differences it is not likely we can copy our way to success. The third is easily the most dangerous and unfortunately the most common. Many of us take every suggestion we ever read, watched, or worse suggested by our playing companions and create a layered strategy that is often becomes more confusing than successful. The confusion comes from the fact that we rarely discard what we try. We are much more likely to just keep adding layers.
The first concept of successful putting is to realize that over 80% of the influence on the direction the ball leaves the putter is determined by the face of the putter at impact. The ball basically goes where the putter is pointed at impact. Less than 20% of direction is from the path the putter swings. No one that specializes in putting instruction disagrees with this concept, yet, the majority of instruction and teaching aids focus on the path. For example, a putter travels on a perfect path, exactly on line but the face is open only 1.5 degrees to the target at impact. You will miss the putt on the right edge of the hole a ten feet.
Developing an understanding of controlling the face is the first step in changing your success on the green. When you miss a putt, relate the direction the ball went to the putter face and not the putter path and you will start to make the proper corrections to improve your putting.

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