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ARTICLE - 6 "KEYS" to Modern Putting
(PGA Magazine)

The wonderful thing about golf is that it's an imperfect sport played by imperfect people. We all hit poor shots and we're entitled to do so. I wear the good and bad shots like a badge of honor. As a golf instructor I've been given the task of selling hope, hope that your golf game will improve and therefore hope that your enjoyment level on the course will increase. It's been my goal to improve the scores of my students since I started teaching over a decade ago and nowhere is that improvement more noticeable than around the greens. The short game is the single biggest difference maker when it comes to lowering your handicap and your scores.

Roughly 65% of the shots you take during a round of golf are from 100 yards and in. Even the game itself was designed around the idea that your provided two putts on each green during a stipulated round, so if you just do the bare minimum 36 putts is standard. As a Science & Motion Sports Certified PuttLab trainer and owner I have opportunity to use one of the best pieces of golf instruction equipment on the planet and after hundreds of hours of time spent training with my PuttLab I've determined that most players simply aren't aware of what needs to happen between the club-face and a ball when they are on a putting green. What I have listed below are my "top six" keys to putting when they are broken down with my SAM PuttLab.

1. Loft: It's important to remember there's a significant difference between "Static Loft" & "Dynamic Loft". Static Loft is the stated/ measured loft on the putter. I own a digital Mitchell Tour Gauge Putter Machine and keep it right in my putting studio. The main reason is before I take a measurement with SAM PuttLab I need to identify the Stated Loft/Lie of each player I teach. The Stated Loft is one portion of a putters "specs" and significantly less important than Dynamic Loft because very few players hit a putt from a true plum (vertical) position. Static loft is still very important don't get me wrong, but static loft is just the yardstick by which your putter should be measured when getting a properly fit club. Dynamic Loft is the actual loft the ball is coming off the face of the putter at impact and is based on shaft lean, attack angle, static loft and centeredness of contact (in relation to the putters true sweet spot). 2 Dynamic Loft is ideal for most greens which are around 10 on the stimp meter, but the faster the greens get the closer you can adjust the loft of your putter to 1.

2. Face Angle: The cup is 1 wide pace specific which means your ball speed off the face of the putter is very important. If your putter face is closed or open by 1 with perfect rolling speed (12 to 18 inches past the cup) you will make a 10 foot putt, but a twelve footer is a dead miss. Also, for every foot past the hole you roll the ball it reduces the effective size of the cup by 12%. There are plenty of stroke path training aids, but very few face aim devices. I'd recommend buying a putting laser to help improve your consistency of aim. I own and use the putting laser from Wright Dynamics and highly recommend the purchase of one.

3. Impact Location: Centeredness of contact on the true "sweet spot" on your putter is critical. You can measure this by tapping on the face of your putter with a tee with one hand while holding the base of the grip lightly in the fingertips of your other hand. If you can feel the face twisting you haven't located the ideal position yet. One of the best practice drills to work on improving your center of contact is once you've determined your putters "sweet spot" you take two rubber bands and wrap them around your putting providing just enough room on the putter face for the ball to make contact with that predetermined spot. One of the other less expensive options to find out where your making contact with the ball is by using dry athletes foot powder in a can. Spray some on the face and you will see immediately where you've struck the putt.

4. Rise: The degree of "rise" is dependent on a number of factors like shaft lean, static loft and face angle at impact. I base the adjustment of the static loft off the average of two separate measurements using my SAM PuttLab. The more you lean the shaft at impact the greater the difference between Static & Dynamic Loft will be. You can lean it two directions. "Towards" the target is a reduction in Dynamic Loft and "Away" results in an increase of the putters Dynamic Loft. In this respect your driver and putter are very similar, the more "up" on the ball you make contact the less spin will be generated and therefore the better the roll on the fairways & greens.

5. Ball Speed Velocity (or Ball Speed): The ball speed off the face of the putter needs to be uniform, but this is also dependent on the softness of the face of the putter you choose and the consistency of contact. The ball speed can be fast or slow as long as it's consistent. It's hard to quantify this number, but what you should look at is your consistency of timing when looking at PuttLab data. The harder the face on your putter the faster the relative ball speed. Additionally, the faster the speed of the greens that you typically play on the softer the face on your putter should be. This is one of the areas that pay the most amount of attention to. I teach all of my students to use a metronome or to listen to music with a consistent rhythm. Sam Snead used to hum the Blue Danube to help improve the tempo of his full swing, so if your looking for better distance control on the greens this is a great way to achieve it. One of the greatest methods I've learned in determining the speed at which a player should set their metronome is by counting the number of steps they take (while walking at a normal rate) on a flat surface for 45 seconds. Repeat this measurement five times and take the average. The number you come up with is what your metronome speed should be while putting and regardless of the length of putt that tempo should stay the same.

6. Path: Science & Motion Sports indicates that 17% of the initial direction a ball travels is based on face angle at impact. There are differing opinions on this number and some current experts are putting path in relation to face as high as 7% of the initial direction the golf ball travels at impact. This is the least important of the factors mentioned whenever putting is discussed. What this means is that anywhere between 83% and 93% of the initial direction the ball travels is face related (with a putter). The more you compress the ball the more direction plays a part, so your drivers path matters more than that of your putter. There are an abundance of path related training aids on the market place today, so test your stroke to see what you do naturally and find one that compliments it.
Robb Gibb, Golf Pro
PGA Titleist Edel Golf Core Golf Consulting True Golf Science and Motion Sports PGA, Titleist, Edel Golf, Core Golf Consulting, Austin Golf Institute, Science and Motion Sports
Robb Gibb, Level III Senior PuttLab Instructor, Certified Torque Balanced Putter Fitter
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