Hello from Indiana -
If you’ve been “lurking” for the last few weeks – reading our inspiring emails about getting better at golf – but you haven’t done anything about it – yet – here’s your chance. You won’t even get your shoes muddy.
We’re offering our “Welcome to Scientific Putting” session for the first time at C2C – and you can bring a friend for free.
You will be heroes this season making all of your scramble putts.
Improving your putting is the next step in our “Five Most Important Shots in Golf” program. We have state of the art technology – the Science and Motion (SAM) Putt Lab and plenty of experience. The PuttLab is most trusted by PGA Tour Professionals for putting stroke analysis. This email includes a “real life” case study with analysis.
The Requirement for Precision in Putting
Aiming your putter inside the hole is crucial. If you don’t aim inside the hole you have to “compensate” – that means subconsciously change your stroke – to square the face at impact. You “miss to make”. Compensation kills consistency.
There are well-known players in history with dangerous “aim bias”. Tiger Woods is the most famous example. There is one thing that we know for sure. All good putters, professional or amateur, deliver the clubface square at the moment of impact. There is very little leeway if you want to become a good putter.
To emphasize the importance of a square face at impact, here is a table that shows how far a ball will miss the target with your putter off line at impact.
The table is courtesy of Rick Wright.
Study the chart to understand your need for precision. If your putter face is just 2 degrees open at impact, you’ll miss your target by over 4 inches from 10 feet. 2 degrees is not much. Think of a clock face. 2 degrees is just a split hair more than one minute.
It is possible to “compensate” for a faulty swing path and still square the face. That’s why players with poor strokes make some putts. But an erratic path imparts sidespin on the ball that makes it difficult to start the ball on line, even with short putts.
Putting experts rate square face at impact at 85% and path at 15% as factors for starting your putt on line.
Tour statistics analyzed in the groundbreaking book “Every Shot Counts” by Mark Broadie reveal that Tour Professionals make 99% of their putts from 2 feet and 97% of their putts from 3 feet. It gets much more difficult at 5 feet. Tour professionals only make 60% of their putts from that distance. From 5 feet, amateurs make less than 50%. Brodie draws two important conclusions from “Every Shot Counts”:
First, most amateurs will lower their scores substantially by improving their performance from 5-8 feet – the true “scoring zone”. That’s why we call the 7 foot putt the “Second Most Important Shot in Golf”.
Second, getting inside 3 feet with your first putt is crucially important. From 30 feet, amateur golfers get inside of 2 feet less than 30% of the time with their approach putts.
Rick Wright on the “Modern Putting Stroke”.
One of the most respected putting instructors in America is Rick Wright. Rick has a long history in putter design – as a principal with Kirk Currie Putters – and as inventor of the T-Bar training device that has gained a huge following among putting instructors and college teams. For more information on Rick’s products and theories, follow this link: Rick Wright’s Website
Here’s what Rick says about the evolution of the “Modern Putting Stroke”.
In just the past 20 years, putting greens have become 50% faster, instruction has improved, and putting technology has overwhelmed us. The high tech analysis systems of today will measure swing path, face rotation, speed and acceleration, tempo, point of impact, dynamic loft, and on and on. As a result, the putting stroke has evolved from a quick, accelerating hit on slow greens to the rhythmic, robotic strokes we see on the PGA Tour today. Twenty years ago, each of the top elite players on the PGA Tour had their own unique putting style. Today, most elite putters have adopted similar fundamentals; fundamentals that create a very efficient putting stroke. Efficiency defined as a putting stroke executed with the least amount of motion, effort, or thought.
If you think your current knowledge of putting fundamentals might be out of date, and would like more information on Rick’s vision of the modern putting stroke he offers a free eBook on his website. His website also describes the T-Bar to help players feel the “one piece” motion. If you’re wondering how the T-Bar works we can help. We have one at C2C. It’s available for training. Rick Wright’s Website
Here’s what Rick has to say about aim:
Putter alignment (aim) has the greatest disruption over the path of the putter. My experience over the years reveals that well over 80% of golfers misalign their putter on a straight putt from just 10′.
The target backboard is 16″ wide, and surprisingly, over 30% of golfers will miss the board from just 10′. The result? Misalignment creates compensating motions in the putting stroke, disrupting a simple path to the golf ball.
One important goal of our “Welcome to Scientific Putting” session is to make sure your stance, setup and balance are comfortable and that you AIM INSIDE THE HOLE.
Science and Motion (SAM) PuttLab Stroke Analysis
The first step in understanding your putting stroke is to find out what you’re stroke is doing right now. in “Welcome to Scientific Putting” we cover the basics of setup, alignment and aim. If your putter needs adjustment, we take care of that as well.
The essence of Scientific Putting is a detailed stroke analysis provided by the SAM Putt Lab. The session takes an hour. If you would like to know exactly what you get with the SAM stroke analysis, keep reading. We reproduced the reports and analysis you receive. Our example is from a real-life case study. The fee is $99.
As a special offer to introduce new clients to C2C, you can bring a friend for free. If you bring a friend, we will schedule an hour and a half for the same $99. This is a great way to help your scramble team this season. Let your winnings pay back the fee.
Science and Motion (SAM) PuttLab Case Study – Detailed Reports
The reports that we describe in this section were all generated during a SAM stroke analysis for a tournament player with a scratch index. His name confidential because he is competing in the NCAA and we don’t want to compromise his amateur status.
The procedure we follow is to attach the SAM wireless transmitter – the “triplet” – to your putter. Extreme care is taken to make sure that your putter is aligned and calibrated “square to the target”. After alignment, you execute ten putts.
Aim is Paramount
In the Aiming Report (below), the face aim of each stroke is recorded and color-coded. Notice the deviation in aim from putt to putt. Keep in mind, this is a scratch player. The test describes a consistent aiming bias that averages 1.1* closed. Notice that the deviation is over 2* – from .27* open to 1.98* closed. Although that appears to be a large deviation, it is not too far below the average performance of Tour Players.
The goal of the modern putting stroke is to aim the putter on EXACTLY the line you intend to roll the ball. Any deviation in aim will require compensation to return the putter to square.
The SAM PuttLab analysis gives each skill a grade based on the quality and consistency aof execution. Perfection is not required. Each skill receives a “grade”. In this case the overall aiming skill was ranked high as was the consistency of aim from stroke to stroke. The thermometer-style graphics are the SAM signature method for grading results.
Performance Comparison Against Tour Standards
The unique value of the SAM PuttLab against all other putting analysis systems is the database that provides the basis for comparative analysis against a group of over 100 Tour Players. For each skill, the player’s performance is graded and color coded shot by shot. Comparison against the Tour Professional standard provides an important frame work to rank performance and track improvement. In the example below, the gray area represents the range of performance for Tour Players.
You can see from the graphic that for most of the putts, this player’s performance was inside the greyed area indicating within “Tour Performance” standards. The specific strokes that were outside of the grey area are indicated. Putts where aim exceeded 1.5* closed at address are highlighted.
Impact – the Moment of Truth
Success at the “moment of truth” is precise alignment of the putter face. You want it as close to the “zero line” as possible. With our scratch player, the consequences of an “aim bias” are revealed. it’s natural for players train themselves to return to their aiming alignment at impact. Our player does that. Closed face at impact. The SAM is not quite so generous in grading this skill. With an average face aim at impact of 1.8* closed, he will lip out some of his five footers. He will miss all of his ten footers by an inch.
That is, unless he “compensates”.
His aiming bias could be an “equipment issue”. It is quite possible that his left aim bias and closed face at impact is related to the shape of his putter. David Edel at Edel Golf has contributed a lot of study to the effect that putter shape has on aim. This player’s putter is a blade style with an offset plumber’s neck. Blade style and offset hosel are design parameters that influence a “left aim” for most players. Even though our player has trained himself extensively to aim with mirrors, a very interesting experiment will be to test a mallet shape putter head with a straight hosel. We’ll get to that when the tournament season is over.
The “Compensation” – Stroke Path at Impact
Here’s the compensation that explains why our scratch player makes putts. The closed face is offset by an inside=out stroke path.
Our player had “no idea” that his stroke path was inside-out. The graphics illustrate what compensation is all about. The player aims his putter 1.1* closed. At impact his putter face is even more closed at 1.8*. To compensate, he has trained himself, without his conscious knowledge, to stroke the ball on a 2.7* inside-out path.
The SAM grades this swing path rather harshly. The only good news is that the player’s consistency is very good, as we would expect from a scratch player. In the testing session he was missing left. Face angle is more important than path.
Compensation Confirmed – Path from Above
This graphic is interesting for two reasons. First is that it tracks the player’s backswing. Notice that on average the backswing indicated by the dotted line is relatively straight back. On the downswing the player “loops” back inside. Once again, our player had no idea that he was not returning the putter on the same line as his backswing. After viewing the graphic and hitting another series of putts, our player was able to feel what he was doing.
The second reason this graphic is interesting is it shows the proportions of backswing and downswing. Notice that the backswing is much shorter. One of the key elements of developing an even tempo – a critical factor in Rick Wright’s putting theology – is that the backswing and downswing should be proportional. Wright likes a 50-50 “balance” as ideal. He will accept 60-40 as “OK”. This is a red flag that the player’s follow-through is too long.
Further Confirmation – Face Angle to Path
We have a closer look at the swing path. This graphic shows the face angle in relation to the swing path. The graphic is color coded. There is no surprise, the face angle is closed to path throughout the stroke. It is interesting to note that this is a well-honed swing path.
Consistency is rated at 95% – very high even when compared against Tour statistics.
This graphic illustrates an “unbalanced” stroke by Rick Wright’s description. Note that the follow through stays well outside the target line at four inches from impact. A balanced stroke is described as one with the same “shape” of backswing and downswing.
This is a great example of a highly trained “compensated” stroke.
Solid Contact – Your Putter Has a Sweet Spot
Off-center strikes are a little less significant with a putter than with a driver. We have no concept of “Smash Factor” with a putter.
However, any off center strike has consequences. In this case the strike high on the face and inside center is most likely caused by the inside-out swing path. An off-center strike will impart a small amount of side spin on the ball, decreasing the likelihood of a “smooth roll”.
This is another area where the shape of the putter or markings on the top of the putter could have a positive effect. This player’s putter is a Scotty Cameron with no alignment aids. We would recommend experimenting with alignment marks in different patterns of lines and dots.
Rise Angle, Topspin, Putter Loft and Shaft Angle = Topspin
High speed photography shows that even with a perfect strike, the ball will “skip”, “skid” or “hop” before it begins to roll. Conventional wisdom says that the “skid” decreases with an upward angle of attack. The SAM measures the stroke from a “face on” position.
This is a great chart for putter fitting and a good check on shaft lean at impact. For our scratch player, the graphic was another surprise. He didn’t think he positioned his hands ahead of the ball at impact. This is also a good checkpoint for putter loft. In this case, the common but relatively low loft was not a great match with the forward shaft lean and slightly too low launch angle.
Notice that the shaft lean subtracts from the measured loft on the putter. An “effective loft” of .6* is on the low side and responsible for the low launch angle.
We will customize your putter to fit your stroke – “tweaking” and “tuning” in our on-site workshop. If we pick up a clue that loft is too high or too low or lie is too upright or too flat, we will make immediate modifications and retest. In this case, a small adjustment adding 1* of loft to the putter brought his launch angle up to match Tour standards.
Splitting Hairs – Movement Dynamics
These are the graphs where consistency really shows up. The more each set of ten putts looks like a single putt, with each graph line laying down one on top of the last, the greater the consistency. As we know from prior skill measurements, our player is extremely consistent.
The most important information in this measurement technique is revealed in the lower right chart – measuring acceleration of the downswing. Notice that there is a sharp rise in that chart and then a little jaggedness and a decline before impact where the graph line crosses the “zero line”. Our player’s pattern indicates a little deceleration just prior to impact.
We rely on the downswing acceleration graph as just as important as face aim at address and impact. The theology behind the Modern Putting Stroke prefers zero acceleration on the downstroke. The most desirable graph shape is a sharp rise to a flat top that extends just prior to impact.
The most feared stroke defect is a “hit”. An acceleration graph that rises sharply to a peak indicates excess acceleration. That stroke will “pop”. Excess acceleration in a putting stroke is blamed for poor distance control.
The shape that falls off prior to impact indicates deceleration which is much less common but also to be avoided. Inconsistent distance control is a result of deceleration.
Our recommendation to change the shape of this graph would include increasing the weight of the putter head weight or adding counterweights. Recommending stroke changes is subject to experimentation limited by a player’s comfort zone. Knowing what we now know about our player we would recommend trying a slightly longer and more deliberate backstroke. With the SAM we will know if the suggestion works. That’s the value of immediate, stroke by stroke feedback.
Tempo and Timing – Key Measurements
We discovered an indication in the swing path charts that our player’s swing is “unbalanced” with an inside-out swing path that is also a little too long on the follow through. We would also like to see a shape in which the downswing mirrors the backswing. Finally, we’re concerned about deceleration just prior to impact.
The timing measurements indicate a well-timed backswing (inside the grey area of Tour performance). There is definitely a tempo issue with this stroke. Even though the downswing is measured as “too quick”, we saw indications of deceleration in the downswing acceleration chart. That is an example of counterintuitive reports.
Putting stroke changes are not impossible to make in a reasonable period of time. The availability of electronics like the SAM PuttLab providing immediate, stroke by stroke feedback accelerates learning and ingraining a new stroke.
Tempo issues are frequently helped by altering the balance of the putter with counterweights. Another option would be to try a little more length on the putter to slow down the transition.
Final Report – What We Already Know
The final report should not be a surprise. Our scratch player is very well trained with a consistency factor that is as good as most professionals. Note the green bar tops out halfway through the grey area. His overall rating just touches the least skilled range of Tour players.
The SAM is not quite so kind when it comes to “Tendency” and “Timing”. There is work to do on tempo, eliminating the deceleration just before impact. That will require some experimentation with putter length and balance. A likely remedy is counterbalancing.
Tendency is also graded down for the “unbalanced” with a shape where the downswing does not mirror the backswing. The closed clubface and the inside-out swing path are issues that require correction.
The C2C (Correct2Compete) Precision Putting Surface
Our training environment is unique. We installed a “precision putting surface” with natural slopes modeled after outdoor putting greens for authenticity – but eliminating the inconsistency of grass that frustrates outdoor practice. Indoors, your practice time is deliberate, efficient and effective.
Our putting surface mimics outdoor surfaces. It was engineered with a 2* slope rising 30 feet to a crown with a 3* slope for ten feet over the crown. The slope and speed are similar to outdoor surfaces. What is not similar is the absence of imperfections.
The C2C Golf Academy Putting “Combine”
Players looking for a structured program to improve their putting know that there is more to getting better than an hour of analysis. We now offer a five week “Putting Combine” program to hone all of the required skills required for putting improvement. Complete details of the “Combine” will be the subject of next week’s email.
On completion of the Combine, the SAM is available for individual training.
Leith Anderson – Golf Coach, Golf Digest Top 100 Clubfitter
Max Niehans – Director of Golf Instruction
P.S. – You can book your “Welcome to Scientific Putting” with a quick call to the office: 317-873-3636. For other questions contact Leith Anderson by cell phone: (650) 743-2816 or by email: Leithander@gmail.com
copyright 2015 Leith Anderson, all rights reserved