Sunday, February 25, 2018

Leave putts short?

Friday, we talked about the potential influence of negative loft on the direction the ball starts at impact. As an addition to that conversation, we find the effect of the forward lean - negative loft at impact is most noticeable to the player on left to right putts. Players who complain they cannot get the ball started enough left often are leaning the shaft forward during the putt. The combination of the potential negative loft and possible slower than normal rotation through the ball that is normal on left to right (another story for another day) starts the ball to the right of the intended line. The effect is there and noticeable on all putts, but for some reason we tend to blame a misread before we consider a mishit if the putt feels solid off the face. Especially left to right for right handers. It is easy enough to see if you have this problem. Work on hitting left to right or slice putts with a vertical shaft. You might find the ball starting on the chosen line more often. One more point. If you try this and you find you are left of the hole on these breaking putts, it is entirely possible you over read left to righters (slice putts)to compensate for the bad impact position we are discussing.

The other influence of “the pinch” is even more deceiving than the directional influence. Quite simply, when you drive the ball into the turf with negative loft, you slow the initial ball velocity off the putter. For the player this is noticeable as putts continually come up short, even when you feel like you have made a good stroke. The problem is the fine line between deloft and still maintain a positive loft, and shaft lean that creates negative loft. The difference between a forward force vector parallel to the ground and a force vector into the turf. The difference is much more dramatic than you would ever imagine. If you know someone with a Trackman 4 this is easily noticed. In a negative loft situation, the ball velocity graph drops almost vertically during the skid stage of the putt. With a clean launch the initial ball velocity drops off most during the skid stage of the putt, but not nearly as much as with negative loft.

I know there are those out there who are saying that you can negate all this by hitting up on the putt or with a positive angle of attack. NO YOU CAN’T. Sorry, but no face technology is sticky enough to overcome a face tilted toward the ground. Not in theory, and not in application. In a negative loft situation, the force vector is always down. You might be able to learn to compensate for how the ball comes off the putter, but I have a hard time with making the task harder and more complicated. It is already hard enough.

Next - Overcoming a theoretical putter fit.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Ball Roll Part 3.

Over the past couple of days, we have talked about two basic ways a ball can come off the putter at impact. At this point, I want to make clear this is not about right and wrong, only to share some of what we have seen and learned as we develop the Burnt Edge system and Perspective Putting line of products and putting aids. I also want to stress that I know there might be a common ground between the two.

As I become more experienced as a fitter and instructor, I find my best success comes when I look for the path least resistance. This is something to consider as we consider these two stroke/launch strategies. Both models get the ball rolling in the same amount of time. The 2-degree flies forward and lands, while the shaft lean model compresses and rebounds. The skid to roll ratio remains basically the same for both.It is the compress and rebound launch where we have seen some issues other than when the ball rolls that you don't normally hear about. When I compress a round object into an immovable surface, it brings other forces onto the direction the ball leaves the face. I call this the pinch and I have seen many instances where the ball leaves the pinch a little left or right of the target line. This is not a function of the ball bouncing like you might assume from some marketing material or instructor rhetoric.  It leaves the putter in the wrong direction immediately. 

We see this often when using PuttLab with a chalk line. All the numbers will add up to perfect direction, yet the ball leaves the putter a little left or right of the line. After much deliberation we have come to realize it is the interaction of ball and turf with the face of the putter tilted toward the turf that can be a cause. Reasons? First the putter bounces off the ball a little in some of the most drastic shaft lean putts. So the putter face is not stable and can move slightly depending on impact point. More so, the ball bounces off both the face and the turf. Any little flaw in the surface can kick the ball slightly in any direction. The mole hill becomes a mountain. You might say, “on an iron shot the ball is compressed into the turf yet flies where the face is pointed at impact.” You would be right, but with a putt and a negative loft situation the loft is not there to relieve the resistance of the turf. Tomorrow-More on the influence of the pinch and something that might not have occurred to you.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Ball Roll Part 2

So, let’s start with the top of the previous diagram. This is an average of the parameters most OEM manufacturers use as an optimal launch model. The goal is for a clean launch with hopefully some forward rotation to the ball off the putter. The thought being the forward rotation of the ball at first impact with the ground enhances the effect of friction on the ball. The faster they can get the ball to turn over the sooner the ball starts to roll. The following is an attempt to illustrate this effect. Remember each time the ball touches the ground the rotation is accelerated by the friction of the ground against the ball.

In this model, regardless of forward rotation of the ball off the putter, with a minimal launch angle, the ball starts to roll quickly. This assumes a flat angle of attack shown by the black arrow.

The bottom model is what I hear from many instructors as a way to get the ball rolling sooner. The idea is to de-loft the putter by leaning the shaft forward, with the hope of achieving the lowest possible launch. To avoid driving the ball into the ground it is suggested that you strike the putt with a positive angle of attack. Before I get into any discussion about better or best I need to make this point. The loft of the putter at impact will have more influence on launch than the angle of attack can over come. So the following is what you get with the shaft leaned forward to negate the loft and a flat angle of attack.

Tomorrow we will continue the discussion on the pros and cons of each model. In the mean time give this some thought. what happens when I compress the ball into the turf? Does angle of attack change the launch conditions?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Discussion on Ball Roll off a Putter.

The diagram above is meant to depict two different ball launch conditions off a putter. The top shows a putter with 0 degrees shaft lean and 2 degrees of loft. The bottom diagram shows the same putter with 4 degrees of shaft lean and -2 degrees loft at impact. The difference to the player? At the top the grip might be pointed at your belt buckle, while the forward lean would be trending toward your lead pocket.

This is a simple example of two common schools of thought on how to launch a ball off the putter to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. But before we discuss the two methods lets clarify a couple of things.

1. Ball roll is a function of the forward momentum of the ball combined with the friction from the ground. so as the ball moves toward the target the ground resists, causing a forward rotation of the ball. Eventually as the forward momentum dissipates the ball rolls continuously along the ground. At this point we have reached what many of my colleagues refer to as true roll. So the theory is that the lower you launch the ball the sooner the ground reacts to the ball and true roll happens quicker. Depending on the launch angle this happens at anywhere from 10 -20 percent of the distance of the putt. This skid phase is essential in having a putt roll.

2. There is a fine line between skid and bounce. If you launch the ball at a greater angle, say more than 3 degrees, the ball literally lands and bounces up. This minimizes the time on the ground in the early phase of the putt and reduces the friction between the ball and the ground. This delays the influence of friction and when the ball begins to roll.

In the next post we will begin to discuss the differences between the two.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Recent Thoughts

So, you want to be a putting instructor? Start with this. The mechanical players have no sense of feel and the feel guys have no sense of reliable mechanics. The ones with a little of both? They don’t need you.

The start of a plan to improve putting. Define YOUR stroke. Fit putter to definition. Develop a feel for the combination. Spend the rest if your time to develop YOUR strategy. Organization develops mental toughness. Need help? Contact Burnt Edges Consulting or Golf School of Indiana.

One of these strokes requires some precise manipulation. The other none at all. Guesses? Been doing this long enough to know square to the arc is much more efficient than trying to be square to the target line. No timing required. When arc matches target line the putter will be square to both.

Even with a minimal arc and low rotation pattern, the farther you play the ball forward in your stance, the more you must manipulate the face to stay square to the target line. #leftmiss

The most important words in golf are the words a player uses to describe the task and develop a feel. A coaches job is to help them find the right words and make sure the clubs enhance the feel.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Finding help for your Golf Game.

I was recently asked what to look for in an golf instructor.

I am not sure I have an answer, but I do have some suggestions.

1. Find someone who will help you define your stroke or swing sequence. Technology has allowed us to move past paying for generic instruction. Specific help is available.

2. Are you looking for a coach or swing technician? The search for perfect mechanics is beneficial but doesn't always improve scores. It is easy to nit pick and say you don't have a good stroke or swing. Most players don't get what they can out of what they have, so you have to figure out what you need.

3. Make sure the conversation includes finding the right equipment for you and the movement you have defined. Club Fitting is more than just equipment specifications. Set make up is just as important. 

4. Avoid what I call the Best Way Syndrome. There is a big difference between the best way for you and an instructor's personal preference. ALL  of the arguments you might read on social media are a result of not knowing the difference.