Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tiger Putting Problems

In 2006 I saw PuttLab reports for Tiger Woods. A bunch of them.

His stroke was exactly on line at impact, the shaft was straight up and down and he struck the ball exactly at the bottom of the arc of his stroke. His goal was for a vertical shaft angle and 3.5 degrees of loft at impact. He was robotic in his ability to do that.

I have read twice in the past two weeks that he now hits up on the ball in excess of 4 degrees. This could be in an attempt to use the Method at 2 degrees loft, in order to get the ball rolling. Or it could be he drank the "Kool Aid" that says that hitting up on the ball when you putt, gives you "top spin" which means a better roll, so you will make more putts, and then you will win the lottery….. and all the other promises marketers make to sell putters. It is not a better or more efficient way and here is why I believe that.

The following is a PuttLab report of Iron Archie using a perfect arc. While it isn't an exact duplicate of Tiger's stroke it is very close and will help show the issues of trying to hit up on a putt.

The diagram shows the side view of an arc. The black dots stacked over each other are the ball position. The single black square to the left would be the ball position required to hit up on the ball 4 degrees! The bottom picture shows the measurements of shaft lean and rise angle. So impact in this example was at the bottom of the arc and shaft position is vertical just as Tiger was looking for in 2006.

This picture shows the players view of the path that corresponds with the picture above. This is the classic arc many try to achieve. The black spot on the left notes the impact point required for 4 degrees (approximately) up, with no change in posture or setup. Remember you can't change the posture or setup without changing the stroke.

Note the direction of the path at the impact point 4 degrees up. One characteristic of the robot is that the putter always swings square to the path. Square to the path at 4 degrees up is left! So you must either swing the putter open to the path to stay square to the line as you hit up (what most players do) or adjust the path. When Tiger releases the putter the face is closed to the path. So with this stroke he is really fighting the pull.

Puttlab shows that most of us hit up. In 2006 and the next couple of years later, Tiger was the best putter ever, certainly better than the pros used in the initial PuttLab studies that showed hitting up on the ball. Isn't it possible they should have copied what was working for him?

So based on a face slightly closed to the path, as anyone would have with the thought of releasing the putter, here is the where the direction of the path would have to be to strike the ball as the putter swings 4 degrees up. You have to tilt the arc to suit impact.

I know some players with paths this shape who are great putters. But they have used it forever and they understand the issues and requirements.

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