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.

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