Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Famous Player (Rory) Finds Success.

Last week I wrote about some past ideas concerning Rory McIlroy's putting stroke. After last weekend's success I thought I would  share some assumptions I have on his new success, based on past knowledge and current conversations.

The following is a depiction of Rory's stroke prior to working with his new instructor.

This shows a pattern of attempting to hold the face square to the target line while allowing the putter to swing in a straight to left of the target line arc. This pattern is accomplished by controlling the stroke with a strong lead hand. It is typical of many lead hand low players, for example. Before you assume this was the problem, please know that we have found successful examples of players using all of the 9 Profiles we describe and this one, Profile 6 is no exception. For example, this stroke pattern won 4 majors for the player we are talking about. There is no way of knowing why he lost the feel for this stroke. It could have come from listening people who think they have a better way, or it could have been because he is right handed trying to control the putter with his non-dominant hand. Maybe, he never had a good grasp of the fundamentals of this pattern. Why he lost the feel for his stroke probably doesn't matter. What matters now is how he fixed it.

The first thing I think his new team discovered was that his natural arc and rotational requirement on his forward swing were less than he was using with a toe hang putter.. Basically, he stands closer and more over the ball than required by the original stroke. The new pattern might look something like this.

In this pattern we still see a left bias, but on a more shallow arc. Typically players with this pattern will use putters that balance closer to horizontal. His new putter is closer to face balanced, but not exactly horizontal, somewhere around 25 degrees or so. This would compare to his previous putter that had closer to 45 degrees. Given the increase in potential toe rotation of the old putter this would explain the inconsistency or looseness he felt in his stroke. A lower rotational requirement would ask for a lower rotational value of the putter. It as all about matching feel to actual. The bigger the arc the faster I need the toe to move to feel stable. Conversely, the more shallow the arc, the slower you need to have the toe move to find the same stability in feel.

Based on the interviews and his description of the new pattern, I think the ah-ha moment came when he changed and became less left hand dominant in his stroke. He added a little right hand into his release. He talks of making a grip change in his right hand and you could see a more toe movement through the ball with some of the televised putts. I also know that his new putting coach prefers a more neutral swing through the ball. Using left and right side in sync, rather than having a dominant side. So, if we have guessed correctly the new pattern looks something like this...

From experience I know for most of you would think this pattern looks "best". I will tell you because it requires a match of lead and trail sides it can be difficult to replicate. For example, Profile 3 replicates the most successful putting stroke of all time. My guess is that as Rory continues to integrate his right hand into the stroke, he will experience an occasional left miss, as too much trail hand often leads to a closed face. It comes with trying to release the toe. This might compel him to move his pattern to more inside and down line rather than inside to inside. Regardless, the miss should be less dramatic and he might not be so compelled to fix the miss as he was on his old pattern.

The moral of this story is to find what works best for you! You can't assume because Rory has success with this new pattern that you would by duplicating his method.  Rory's new stroke is more about his tendencies than it is about finding a perfect method.