Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Different Putting Methods - Productive or Popular?

The golf world has gone a little crazy lately over the recent success of players using an anchored putter. It is the hottest topic of conversation we have had at the Academy in quite some time. The question, “What do you think of the belly putter?” is a tough one to answer directly. Why? A new method is rarely the solution when it comes to better putting. Switching methods starts a chain of events that either works or doesn’t and it takes time and practice to find out.

Over the past 5 years we have measured around 15,000 putting strokes in minute detail. This combined with around 50,000 strokes from a previous data base puts us around 65,000 measured strokes. Here is what we know to be true from the analysis of this data.

The difference between success and failure when choosing a method is not based on the how proficient the method is, but how consistently a method is applied. I can build a robot that can swing a putter in any manner, spins, loops, and otherwise, and as long as it does those things in the same way, I can learn how to use that method to start the ball on a chosen line. So for a human being, if I am not consistent then each stroke becomes a random event with unpredictable results. Not what we are looking for is it?

Because a belly putter it is attached to the body, in order to be consistent you have to attach it at the same place every time. A change in the attachment will change the pattern of motion of the putter. Since it is attached, if I have a perfectly flat surface to stand on, I can use a consistent set up and make a consistent pass at the ball. However, if my body position changes because of an uneven surface, and because the putter attaches to my body, and it is a fixed length and lie, then either the point where it attaches to the body has to change, or the position of the putter relative to the ball will change. Either way something is different. Since ground conditions are inconsistent, the stroke will be as well. So now each putt becomes that random event we just mentioned. What you might gain on flat putts you always give up on breaking putts with an anchored putter. Can you now think why a belly putter has never won a major up until just recently? Big undulating greens are a common condition of major championships.

Doubting your method is part of the game. There is no way to ever know what the best method for you might be. There just isn’t enough time to find out. It is more efficient to look to what you can do with your current technique to become more consistent. With consistency comes predictability and that is what makes a better player.

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