Thursday, April 25, 2013

Finding the Correct Putter to Improve Ball Roll.

I have spent more time than I should thinking about the concept of the ball rolling "better" or many of the other invented terms to get you to think you have a problem with your putting. 

I once saw an advertisement for a new golf club that stated "we don't swing the golf clubs in the manner they were designed". In a subtle way I think that is true. A perfect example of this would be a player moving to a flatter one plane move with clubs that are bent upright. Sorry but Jack Nicklaus could not use Ben Hogan's clubs.

Bruce Blades by Byron Morgan
In a way, a similar comparison can be made in putting. Anyone who has seen our research sees immediately that the design features of a putter can influence how you swing the putter. In very simple terms if the shaft and position of the putter head relative to the shaft do not fit the plane of the stroke the putter becomes unbalanced in motion. The reaction of the player is to tense up or attempt to steer the putter to make it go where the player wishes. This tug of war, however subtle result in burnt edges at best and the yips at worst. 

As I continue to teach and preach about the mechanics of putting, it is very apparent that when the technique matches the putter the ball leaves the putter in the most efficient manner. Giving the player that good roll impression. When the putter is unbalanced to the stroke and the steers and tension sets in,  the ball no longer comes off the putter cleanly. Example, Ben Crenshaw would not get the "roll" he desires with a face balanced mallet. Neither would Tiger with a heel shaft mallet. The putter does not match the arc plane of the stroke!

When I have a discussion with the manufacturers about this, they readily admit they cannot build putters specifically for each golfers tendencies. Their solution is to create extreme design features of loft and weight to counter the steer. In effect they numb the feel of the stroke to the player and the putter swings the player. Or they create an artificial launch condition based on the most common problems.  Here is an example. The most common problem we see in stroke mechanics is what is called an "add loft" situation. The player increases the loft of the putter at impact -hands behind the ball-to the point the ball jumps up or bounces before it begins to roll. So some smart putter designers build a putter with reduced loft to counter the the added loft situation. It improves speed and how the ball comes off the putter, but did the player get any better? I am not sure that better results from a complicated stroke is a reliable way to improve. It surely limits the ability to improve.  

I understand from a players point of view that this might make the game easier but there is a limit to your success. So much of putting is feel and touch that to numb that feel has to limit your opportunity to find out how good you can be. With good players I call this the wall. 

So my contention is too find a putter that matches your stroke and ENHANCES THE FEEL rather than limiting it and the ball roll will take care of itself.