Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Perfect Stroke needs the Perfect Putter

A portion of everyday, at the United States Golf Academy, is spent trying to help people improve their putting. Most come to us in search for a perfect stroke, one that would never miss. If they can’t have perfect they will settle for a “better way”. Such as, “there must be a better way than the method I currently use.” The mechanics of a perfect putting stroke are fairly easy to achieve. Hold your hands in front of you as if you were praying, with your elbows pointed at your hips. Bend from the hips until your fingers are pointed at the tips of your toes. At this point you can adjust the bend of your elbows to make yourself more comfortable. Some of us bend better than others. Now swing your hands back and through on a straight path. In essence, that is all you need to make a perfect stroke. I have never met a player who could not perform this task and do it every time. We all have a perfect stoke. However, there are key elements missing, the relationship of this stroke to the target, the location of the ball relative to where you are standing and how you connect the hands to the ball, or the putter we use.

Every putting stroke we make is a random event and our success or failure is not necessarily determined by whether we are using a perfect stroke. Even with the perfect stroke, a holed putt is still achieved based on how we deal with the other parameters involved. How we position ourselves for the task and whether we can perform based on our preparation and not as a reaction to the ball while the putter is in motion. In other words, can you use your perfect stroke or do you have to compensate as the putter is in motion or even worse, do you think you need to compensate? To use our perfect stroke, we need to make the correct visual decisions. We have to choose the right target. We have to position our bodies in such a way so our perspective of the target does not change when we move to a side on position. We must have the correct position of the golf club relative to the body and the ball, so the club swings in the direction and speed intended. In a perfect scenario, once the visual decisions are made the stroke becomes a mechanical function, our perfect stroke. Over the past years we have discovered this connection between hands and ball, and the design of the putter, has the most influence on how the stroke is eventually made. In a 4 year study using PuttLab technology to measure in excess of 15,000 strokes one indisputable conclusion is that people change their putting stroke based on the putter in their hands. So once the posture and position is determined we have discovered that not only are the correct dimensions critical, but also there are putter designs that better suit the position you create. When the correct putter is found the compensations we once thought we needed are eliminated and we can use the perfect stroke we all know we have.

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