Monday, August 27, 2012

Better Timing for Better Putting - Part 2

Warning - If you are looking for a simple solution to your putting problems the following is not for you.

When I worked with the people at Science and Motion, I had the opportunity to ask the inventor of PuttLab, Dr. Christian Marquardt what he considered the most important parameter PuttLab could measure. His answer was quick and clear, rhythm and timing. In our subsequent studies, we see the truth of his claim every day.

With our last post, we talked about the importance of maintaining a consistent time to impact when making a putting stroke, using stroke length within a consistent time, as the best way to judge the distance the ball would roll. However, the first post relates only to half the story. To lead into a discussion on the other aspect of timing importance lets start with a claim of my own.

The most important fundamental in the mechanics of putting pertaining to direction, is a consistent relationship of face to putter path. Notice I did not say staying square to the path, a popular marketing term, I said consistent relationship of face to path. Some of the most successful stroke mechanics are have faces open, or closed to the path. But, in all successful strokes the relationship remains consistent. It is the twisting of open to closed, or worse, closed to open along the path of the putterhead that causes directional misses.

All putting strokes rotate around a fixed point. If the putter is anchored the anchor point is the fixed point. With a conventional stroke, this point is typically at or below the base of the neck where the shoulder blades intersect the spine depending on arm motion and wrist flex. Since there is a fixed point and the putter swings around this point, all paths the putter follows are naturally circular in motion. If the plane of the stroke is up-right the putter will appear to swing on a straighter path. If the ball is positioned farther from the player creating a flatter motion plane then the putter will appear to arc. We believe it to be fundamental to success to stay on plane in your stroke.

So for any stroke there is a rotational requirement to maintain a consistent face to path relationship during the stroke. Some strokes are low rotation, some are intermediate, and some are high. However, all have some face rotation depending on the size of the arc and the stroke length.

The next concept to understand is that the actual amount of rotation is relative to stroke length. So for example, a low rotations stroke might have 2 degrees of backswing rotation on a short stroke, 4 degrees on a medium length stroke, and 6 for a long stroke. A slight arc might be show 4, 6 and 8. A big arc can be as much as 6, 8 and 10 or more. It is important to realize that these are examples and not guidelines. What is important is what amount of rotation keeps the putter relationship to path consistent.

By keeping a consistent time to impact the putter relationship to path remains consistent. If you use the diagram above as an example, If each image represents the length of the backstroke, the time to reach the length of stroke is consistent. For example it may take about 2/3rds of a second to the end of each backswing. Upon return you might find that it takes about 1/3rd of a second to return to the ball for each length. The rate of rotation of the putter ties directly to the speed the putter moves. slow speeds = slower rate of rotation, faster speeds = faster rate of rotation. so as the putter changes speeds to meet the time requirements, the rate of rotation adjusts as well. Returning the putter back to the approriate position at impact. So if the length/speed relationship is inconsistent, the rotational speed is inconsistent as well, creating the twisting or instability we mentioned earlier. I know it is sounds complicated, but in application it is actually more simple. Consistent time over variable distance is easy to conquer. If you chose the length of the stroke our internal clocks maintain the time relationship. In golf terms, we view this as a natural tempo. This timing or tempo will only change by choice or circumstance (nerves), and when left alone will remain constant. It is this constant that can work to our advantage. in another post we will give you a variation on this method that involves one length backswing with a varible length follow through. More variables to conquer than the equal length back and through method, but with some knowledge can be a successful strategy as well.

At the end of the day the combination of consistent time over varied stroke length allows us to control both speed and direction. Our ultimate goal when putting.

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