Monday, July 30, 2018

Owner's Manual for Putters - Toe Hang Mallets

At Burnt Edges, when we consult with a client we use the same time line, regardless of talent level, to define the parameters of their putting stroke. We start with a determination of the posture and distance from the ball where they perceive the target most accurately. Second, we want to know where they play the ball; relative to their stance forward or back, that provides the best visual to aim the putter. If that seems redundant, I understand why you might think that way, but for the sake of today's discussion think of it in terms direct vision (aim) and peripheral vision (target awareness). We then want to understand how these visual decisions, along with body type, influence alignment. Most assume you must be parallel; but historically we have seen great putters open, closed and parallel. We know from interviews this was primarily based on where they "see it" best. So rather than assume there is a best way, why not make every possibility available to us. Based on these findings, we then want to discover how they start and finish the physical movement in their putting stroke. In Burnt Edges terminology, source, sequence and finish. When you add these parameters together and deal with any movement conflicts the system identifies, we find the “defined” putting stroke has a greater than 95% probability to be diagrammed by one of the Nine Profiles to within one standard statistical deviation. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE 9 PROFILES. Armed with this information the task is to find the putter that has the most positive influence on that stroke.

Today’s discussion involves a solution that many tour level players have found for the following definition. A stroke with a small to moderate arc plane, (shown above), parallel to the target line, where the stroke is finished with the trail hand.  “A little hit at the bottom” would be the old school phrase to describe it. This “hit” comes in two forms. First would be players who have a small hinge of the trail wrist that releases the wrist hinge at impact. The second and more common, where they release the toe, and the majority of the required forward swing rotation happens at impact. For today’s example we are looking at helping a rotational hit.

Controlling trail hand rotation at impact might be the most common issue we see. The problem comes from using this movement pattern with the putter moving on a arc parallel and matching the target line at impact. In simple terms, the rotational hit closes the face too much and you get a pull miss. At this point you are probably thinking you might try to eliminate the “hit”. A good idea, except for many players the “hit” or rotation at impact is a critical factor in having a feel for speed. Ask Tiger Woods; it is an ingrained movement.  As we discussed last time, one solution is to tilt the arc plane away from the rotation. But that will not work if all the other parameters lead you to a parallel Profile to target line.
Arc Plane parallel to target line - face closed at impact.

Every week on television you see a variety of ways to try to solve this dilemma. Claw or pencil hand position, left and low, over-sized grips are just a few of the attempted corrections. But as we said, what if they solve the trail hand issue from a directional stand point, but has a negative influence on feel for speed? There are a couple of ways you can slow rotation at impact. One is by weight. I think the trend toward heavier putters has been fueled by this conversation. Personally, I don’t like using weight to cure a problem. It can backfire over time by influencing the player to exaggerate the movement. Not all the time obviously, as there is a head-weight and overall weight that best suits your tempo and rhythm. But as a general rule I prefer to match weight to rhythm and tempo for speed control rather than alter rotation. We think a better alternative for too much rotation at impact was found by moving to a putter-head with a much higher moi. The observation from our measurements that toe hang being equal, blades rotate faster than mallets. Our problem was almost all higher moi putters were also face balanced and this created a situation where the putter influenced the rotation in the stroke to the point where there was not enough back-swing rotation to match the arc. The result being a shut to plane, opening to plane movement. Hands and arms moving the opposite direction of the movement of your body. Disaster! 

Fortunately, we found a solution in the latest design trend. Mallets with toe hang. The cog of the putter is deep enough in the head to slow rotation at impact, but still allow the feel of a hit at the bottom of the stroke. All the while, having enough feel of the toe of the putter, to allow for the necessary rotation to keep the putter on plane. The best part of the trend is that the OEM’s have put the short slant neck they used to create this model on various sizes and types of mallets. Below I have three examples of putters designed by Odyssey / Toulon that we have used with great success. Basic rule of thumb. The shorter and more aggressive your stroke, the farther you want the center of gravity from the face.
From left to right Odyssey OWorks #7SRed - Toulon Atlanta H4 - Odyssey OWorks Two-Ball Fang S
Deep - Deeper - Deepest
All of this to say, if you try to release the putter and miss left, try a mallet with toe hang. As always, if you feel that you fit this scenario and have some questions feel free to contact me at my Burnt Edges email address.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Owner's Manual for Putters-How to use the Designed by Arnold Palmer

As a young golf professional, I had the privilege of working for Arnold Palmer. First at the Bay Hill Club and Resort, and then for 10 years at the Latrobe Country Club. Mondays at Latrobe was always practice day for Mr. Palmer, and each session would always end with a trial of each of the putters he brought with him from the workshop. It was always fascinating to watch him work through the day's selection of putters. Each putter was different, and what was so intriguing was that his stroke, setup, even tempo, would change with each putter. When I asked him why, he was very matter of fact. Each putter has a different feel while in motion and therefore requires a different stroke. Subtle changes to be sure, but after watching thousands of strokes, it was very noticeable.

Those days have stuck with me through the years and has created a huge "what if" in my thinking as I have continued to study the art. What if every putter came with an owner's manual? I don't believe it is effective to think that you can use any putter with any stroke strategy. Can you? Maybe. Any human is certainly strong enough to overcome a putters influence. But while you are overcoming that influence how well can you judge the speed? We have enough data now in the Burnt Edge system to understand how to help match putters to posture, alignment and movement pattern and make your putting stroke a more subconscious effort.

So in honor of Mr. Palmer, to introduce the owner's manual concept, I will start with our favorite type of putter, the heel shafted blade. AP enjoyed most of his success in the late 50's and 60's with a heel shafted blade that evolved over time. Starting with a Wilson flanged blade, then some help from a Tommy Armour Iron Master and finally with a great deal of welding and grinding, the final result was presented to the public as the Wilson Designed by Arnold Palmer. Over the years there have been a number of versions produced, similar to the "Designed by". As you might imagine, one I am very fond of is the Toulon Garage - Latrobe model. Click the link for more information -Toulon Putters It is a versatile combination of old school design and modern technology.

The basic design of this putter is for the toe to have more freedom of movement than the heel and we see the most successful results using this putter when you allow for this freedom. The most common patterns of success are found in our Profiles 1,4 and 7. Profile 1 is the stroke pattern most similar to Mr. Palmer, while Profile 7 is very similar to what we see in Ben Crenshaw's stroke, another famous user of the this blade style and the most common Profile we see associated with this putter.

As you can see in all three Profiles there is a definite tilt of the stroke plane to the right. Inside - down the line is the common description. But what I would suggest is that it is merely a continuous movement on an arc plane tilted to the right, rather than a two part stroke that requires a re-route of the putter to the finish. The other common feature of players who use this style of putter is a combination of a square to closed shoulder alignment and/or a dominant trail hand to finish the stroke. In addition, we almost always see the ball forward in the stance when using these techniques. While release is the common term used to describe the movement, it is really more accurate to explain it as to not block or slow the rotation. The tilt of the plane to the right allows the rotation to continue with less fear of a left miss. In each example the putter is square to the target line at impact, but slightly closed to the arc plane.
Toulon Garage "Latrobe"

Whenever I suggest this putter, I often hear, "I am not good enough to use this style of putter or I need something more forgiving." My return is that it is not that you can't use it, you just don't know how. This is the ultimate feel putter and the positive feedback on the good strokes will help you find the sweet-spot more often. Besides, nothing swings easier than a heel shafted blade or rolls the ball as nicely.  With a little practice, using your appropriate stroke Profile you might be very surprised at the results. For more advice on finding the right putter and the Profile that works best for you, feel free to contact me at