Thursday, November 18, 2010

Artist or Engineer?

At the United States Golf Academy we have a staged area, set up for putting analysis. Every student working with the Academy, involved in a putting discussion, works from here. It is a huge benefit to us as instructors to see each player under the exact same circumstance. Trends and similarities start to become apparent. For example, how people approach the task of putting can easily be placed into two distinct groups.

We have come to the conclusion that golfer’s fall into two groups from an analytical standpoint of how they approach the task of putting. I call them the Artists or the Engineers.

The Artists are the big picture people. They approach the task of putting in its entirety, rather than the sum of a step by step process. Details often annoy them and they seem to prefer simple over complicated. These players often have a great feel for distance but struggle with direction. Often their strokes are long and free flowing, and combined with their occasional struggles with direction, they have a tendency to struggle with short putts.

The Engineers prefer order and are detail oriented. They see the world in straight lines, right angles and prefer accurate reference points. Their liking of detail is often reflected in their putters, big lines and clear reference points, and their thoughts about the stroke path shape. This is the straight back and straight through group, with controlled backswing and follow through lengths. These players are usually very good on short putts but struggle with longer putts as their natural tendency is to focus on line over speed.

One way we use to help determine the category a player fits is to simply ask them to hit some putts with their eyes closed. For the artist this is no problem, for the engineer this task creates an anxious feeling and a loss of control.

Understanding how these personality traits apply to you is an important first step in building your strategy and technique for putting. It is extremely important to not try to do something that doesn’t fit your personality. It is amazing to watch golfers as they try to do something outside their comfort zone. The frustration and anxiety is measureable. Much more important is to learn how to deal with the inherent weaknesses, not from change, but from knowledge. The grass is never greener on the other side. Take the Artist who struggles with shorter putts, or the Engineer who struggles with distance control, asking them to use techniques that don’t suit their personality is a recipe for disaster. They might be able to do it but they are fighting you every inch of the way. Eventually the inner self wins out and they get worse instead of better.

So which one are you?

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