Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Putting with Feel

Golf Digest February 2012

This article is so full of contradictions and I can only suggest that we start with the beginning of the article and work our way through.

Todd begins with this recommendation, "forget about stroke mechanics and focus on reading break and rolling the ball on the line."  The purpose of practicing stroke mechanics is to enable the golfer to roll the ball on the line.

Next Todd recommends that players "keep the face as square as you can throughout the stroke."  Remember the old saying, "do as I say and not as I do?"  Look at Todd's putter face at the end of his back swing (p. 129).  The putter face is not square to the target line.  Despite what Todd writes, the putter face does not stay square to the target line.  Nor is it useful to think that the putter face is opening and closing.  Instead, imagine a line connecting his left bicep with his right bicep.  At address notice how the putter face is square to that line.  For the duration of the putt the face stays square to that line.

His information on setup is conflicted.  "...your forearms line up with the shaft."  Here again, Todd doesn't do what he says to do (nor should we).  Look at the dotted yellow line indicating the shaft alignment.  If you continue that line you will see that it does not align with his forearm.  It's close, but it does not line up nor will yours.  Attempting to create such alignment will distort your posture and will prevent the putter from being soled properly.

While the putting stroke is certainly pendulum-like, Todd's description of "letting the putter head fall is not the most helpful.  Instead of falling, consider the tossing motion as an analogy.  More specifically, at address imagine that instead of holding your putter with two hands you are holding a volleyball with two hands.  You are going to make a two-handed toss sending the volleyball along your target line.  Even if it was to a nearby target, you would not make a backswing and then let your arms fall.  Instead the backswing would be given distance allowing the use of your muscles to create an armswing that would propel the ball to the target.  Putting is not a "falling" motion, it is a swinging motion.

When it comes to setting up for a putt, Todd invents a problem to justify his solution.  For breaking putts, many players choose an alignment target ( a spot on the high side of the hole) to putt to.  Todd says that we cannot keep our attention on that spot but instead will be drawn to shift our attention to the hole and role the ball to the hole instead of the spot.  While this is certainly a possibility, during 15 years of instruction I have never seen this as a frequent problem.  And as for his suggestion for "playing more break" to avoid missing the putt on the low side, missing it on the high side is no less of a problem.  In fact, if you miss on the low side you are more likely to have an uphill putt instead of a downhill putt.

Puzzlingly,  while Todd warns us against seeing the hole and the resulting misdirection of our swing, he closes the article by describing the last step in the putting process to be "turn you attention back to the hole and to rolling the ball the correct distance."  By the way,  I was never able to figure out why Todd entitled this article, "Putting with Feel".

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