Friday, July 3, 2009

Putting Clinic

On July 19th the Swan Lake Resort and United States Golf Academy is celebrating its 40th anniversary with an open house. For my portion of the day’s festivities I will be doing a putting seminar that afternoon. We have over 30,000 measured strokes on our Puttlab technology and in studying those strokes we have found some data that is contrary to many accepted practices. Admission to the festival is free and I hope you can attend, but for those who cannot I thought I would share some of what we have learned.

To get the results you hope for when putting there are two things to consider, what direction you wish the ball to go and how hard you need to strike the putt in this direction. The direction the putt leaves the putter is influenced by two variables. The angle of the clubface at impact and the direction the putter is moving at impact. Of these there is no contest as to which is more important. 82% of the direction the ball leaves the putter is determined by face angle at impact. Only 18% is determined by putter path. Unfortunately, for most of us we become more concerned with the direction of the path the putter swings rather than just getting the face to the correct position at impact. The easiest way to learn to control the face is with a two by four. Set the board on the ground and line the face of the putter to the board. Swing the putter back and then into the end of the board. Did you strike the board squarely or was the face open or closed? Work with this board will give you the feedback necessary to fix the problem.

If you have a problem with controlling the distance, look to the length of your stroke. The best putters in the world vary the length of their putting strokes to the length of the putt. They use longer strokes for longer putts and shorter strokes for shorter putts. To the contrary we mortals usually take the putter back the same distance for every putt and then try to vary the speed of the putter through impact. Use a yardstick to measure the length of you backstroke visually. With no target hit a few putts at a 6 inch backswing and then measure the distance the ball rolls. How far with an 8 inch backswing and so on. This drill will help you develop the feel necessary to roll the ball the correct distance.

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