Monday, December 21, 2015

Why Iron Archie does not hit up on a Putt.

In 2006, I saw quite a few PuttLab reports for Tiger Woods.

His stroke was exactly on line at impact, the putter 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 and his stroke was remarkably similar to the one produced by the Iron Archie Robot.

On a daily basis I hear about how the "right" way to strike a putt is to hit the ball with little, none or negative loft at impact, with the putter on the upswing, past the apex of the path. There was a time when many TV instructors were suggesting Tiger hit up on the ball in excess of 4 degrees. Part of these recommendations were based on the fact that he had gone from 3.5 degrees loft on his old putter to less than 2 with his Nike Method.

Another reason for the change is the commonly held thought 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. Hitting up is a very difficult way to putt and the following is why I believe that to be true.

The following is a PuttLab report of Iron Archie displaying a perfect, mechanically generated 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. It especially shows the issues of trying to hit up on a putt while using conventional training aids.

The diagram shows the side view of the robots 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 at impact. 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 and the most common path shape based on our Puttlab data compiled over the past 7 years. The black spot on the left notes the impact point required to achieve a 4 degree rise angle. So hitting up requires a dramatic mechanical change and the idea of a zero path from this setup is not possible unless you have a big spine tilt to the right. So if you ever hear a suggestion of level shoulders in combination with an ascending blow to the ball, all the while with a parallel path to the target, you can dismiss that right away.

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 almost 4 degrees left and 4 degrees closed! So in order for the putter face to be square to the target line at impact you must either hold the putter open to the path the same amount it is moving left (what most players do) or adjust the path direction so path matches target line at impact. In Tiger’s case when he switched from Cameron to Nike his natural stroke was to release the putter, with the face closed to the path on the follow through. So with this stroke he is really fighting the pull. It is my opinion that an attempt to block the pull was the beginning of his yippy putting stroke! If you watch on television you see an undercut or block release of the putter with many players. This manipulated move is extremely timing dependent and in the opposite direction of the movement of the stroke.

So based trying to swing the putter online at impact or at least close, here is the adjustment to the path required to strike the ball as the putter swings 4 degrees up. You have to tilt the arc to suit impact. In Iron Archie’s case it would require the robot to be positioned 4 degrees right of the target line.

I know some players with paths of this pattern who are great putters. But they have used it forever and they understand the issues and requirements. For those of you trying to swing the putter "online and onplane" I hope this helps explain some of the difficulties you might encounter as you try to follow all the instruction your read.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Final 10 Daily Lessons

Lesson 356-Test - Swing a number of putters with different face balance. Do you feel your grip pressure change as you change putters?


Lesson 357-Is there a similarity between how you release the putter in your putting stroke and how you release the club in your full swing?


Lesson 358-Examine your putting misses and look to your full swing for the answers. Path and release will provide some insight to your miss.


Lesson 359-Remember that shaft lag in a putting stroke is a bad thing. You can't change the shaft angle while in motion. Watch transition.


Lesson360-You use your dominant eye to aim. Either looking down the line or from side on. Moving your ball position will influence your aim.


Lesson 361-Final 5 Lessons. 1. Your eyes tell you where to stand. Don't fight your vision. Build your stroke based on where you see it best.


Lesson 362-Final 5-Your posture and distance from the ball determine the path shape and rotational requirements of your stroke.


Lesson 363-Final 5 3.Match putter balance to the rotational requirements of your path! Don't use a putter that fights your natural rotation.


Lesson 364-Final 5. 4. Chose a consistent source and sequence in your putting motion and never change it. There is no better way.


Lesson 365-No one was born a great putter! Knowledge of your stroke is power. Never trade what you know for what someone thinks they know.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Putting Lessons 344-355

Lesson 344-Too quick at takeaway or transition? Try changing the putter shaft to a heavier model with a softer flex. 

Lesson 345-"Slow down" is a stock putting recommendation. You might be better with lighter putters, using stiffer shafts and a faster tempo.

Lesson 346-When evaluating a putting training aid, be sure it matches the stroke plane of your stroke and putter is balanced to that shape. 

Lesson 347- How well does your putter balance to your practice aids? No amount of practice will over come faulty feedback from the putter. 

Lesson 348-A common putting tip is to have a light grip on the putter with no tension. Hard to do with a putter not balanced to your stroke. 

Lesson 349 - Grip pressure? Try to eliminate tension without losing control. It helps analyze grip pressure based on your source of motion. 

Lesson 350-Grip Pressure=Control. Do you have a dominant arm in your stroke? Focus on pressure of the dominant side and relax the other. 

Lesson 351-Grip Pressure-With a shoulder driven stroke you need equal pressure in both hands and firm enough to keep both wrists stable. 

Lesson 352-Arms around the spine with passive shoulders requires the lightest grip pressure of all sources of motion. Ultimate feel stroke. 

Lesson 353-If a robot swings Putter A, we see a vibration in the robot. Change to Putter B and no vibration. Problem with robot or putter? 

Lesson 354-The measurable vibration we see in a robot is why some putters don't feel "right". No amount of practice will change that feel. 

Lesson 355-A putter not balanced to the plane of the stroke will create inconsistent rotation along the plane and inconsistent results.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Letter to a Client

When I started with PuttLab, the most common stroke pattern we saw was a small to moderate arc tilted left. Visually, to many tour players this looks like straight back and straight through. Although it is really straight back and straight to impact, and then the putter swings inside to follow the plane or the arc defined by the plane.

The common release was the hold or not to let the toe catch the heel of the putter through impact. Because they couldn't measure the exact position of the face relative to the path, what they called square was really a little open to the path. It was hard to explain to them, as feel is real to the tour player and many didn't like the idea or thought of a cut stroke. Even though it is not really a cut stroke because of the elliptical nature of the path. The visual appearance of an arc happens when the putter is no where near the proximity of the golf ball. So if you judge path by the follow through you think 1 or 2 degrees is huge. Look at this diagram. While the face is square to the target line it is open to the path of the putter at impact (blue circle). But try telling that to a successful tour player.

For me the proof came when we started to look at a number of putters built by one famous builder. Many of the grips coming out of his studio were placed so if the flat spot was on top, the face was slightly open 1 or 2 degrees. So if you can picture the putter coming off the bottom of your arc and starting to swing left as it comes into the ball you can picture how an open setting of the grip would help hold the face square to the target. If the putter is moving 2 degrees left of the target at impact, then the putter face should be 2 degrees open to the path to be square to the target. Picture the grip of the putter parallel to the red line. If it was installed "open" the face would be in this position.

When I started to point this out in my travels, there was a bit of a commotion. Not from the players, they were aware and liked the idea of making a left miss more difficult. The commotion came from the perfectionist instructors and players who thought the perfect stroke would make you better.

My recommendation for right now is to develop a complete understanding of your stroke without the pressure of results. Use your outline and try to get a picture of your stroke and release pattern. You will find when the new putter comes there will be some adjustment, that is why I would rather you set results aside and just judge the movement. Think, "What pattern of putting stroke is best suited to my new putter?" The new putter will help you take care of the rest.