This week I am on site at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas. Because the event is a short drive from my home base in Dallas, I decided it was a good week to set up the SAM PuttLab and collect some new putting data. The SAM Puttlab measures 28 different putting parameters including acceleration, rotation and loft at impact. During the past two days, I collected data from with 15 players, including Tim Herron, Rickie Fowler, Brian Gay and Vijay Singh.
Vijay and I have had an interesting relationship over the years. Like many great players, Vijay is very strong-willed, but I am no pushover either. I will tell a player what I really think of their stroke -- good, bad or otherwise. On Tuesday, I mentioned to Vijay how much I disliked his putting stroke the last time we had seen each other, which was prior to the Masters. Vijay took that as an opportunity to formally announce to all the players on the putting green that “Marius hates my putting stroke,” which was pretty entertaining.
Vijay had made some changes to his putting stroke since then. The most dramatic change was that Vijay now has significantly more rotation in his putting stroke relative to the target line. Vijay has long supported a variation of a straight-back-straight-through putting stroke. It appears now that Vijay is consciously attempting to let the putter swing more freely on an arc rather than being so rigid in an attempt to swing straight-back-straight-through. When we got Vijay hooked up to the SAM machine, his putting stroke was the best I have seen it in years. Vijay is on a great path and I think it will start to show in his results.
This week's reader question comes via firstname.lastname@example.org. Paul R. wrote that he is a 6 handicap, but that putting was the weakest part of his game. He went on to explain that he has a habit of watching the putterhead during the stroke, which makes his head move all around throughout the stroke. He believes that his putting inconsistencies are directly related to this head movement.
Paul needs to understand that following the putterhead throughout a stroke is not uncommon. Although, I would not teach this, I work with players who glance at the putterhead as they begin their stroke, and they do this playing on the PGA Tour.
Much of Paul’s problem stems from being too technically focused when putting. I am a strong believer in solid fundamentals for the improvement of putting (that is the reason I established the 10 characteristics of a great putter on my Automatic Putting DVD), but there is a time and place for that type of thinking. That time and place is not when you are on the golf course trying to make a six-footer to save par.
When you are standing over a putt in a match, your thoughts should be focused on picking the right line and committing to the speed it will take to make the putt. Players who watch the putterhead moving back and through are so “technically focused” that they lose sight of what the actual goal is –- making the putt. Paul needs to focus his eyes on a spot on the ball. I recommend that he begins putting with the number of the ball facing up so that his eyes are fixated on that spot rather than the putterhead. If Paul prefers to use the seam of the ball for alignment, then he should take his marker and put a dot in one of the dimples and use that spot to focus his eyes on when he putts.
Although I am driven to introduce more scientific data into the world of putting, the data is strictly to improve the understanding of what the best players do with the short stick. Understanding what is actually happening bio-mechanically will help improve the instruction of putting, which has changed very little over the years. But at the end of the day, the goal when you are on the green is to have the fewest putts. The next time any of you are on the golf course playing, focus on making the putt rather than on what the putter needs to do to make the putt.
Lastly, if you haven’t purchased my Automatic Putting Package yet, what are you waiting for? My 3-disc DVD set is based on 20+ years of putting research of more than 54,000 putting strokes. If you look at the careers as a whole from all the players included in my research, you would have more than $600 million in career earnings, 34 major championships (including 11 green jackets) and more than 260 PGA Tour victories. This week I am offering a promo code to my blog readers that will save you $10 off the package. Simply visit www.mariusgolf.com and use the promo code ‘radio’ in the checkout. As always shipping anywhere in the United States is free.
Until next time…cheers! [Photo by Getty Images]