Sunday, December 21, 2008

Putting and Connection

Geoff Mangum shows how to putt using left side connection:

There was a post over at the forum asking about how to cure the yips. Like I've posted before, I consider myself a pretty good putter and that along with the rest of the short game got me a D-I scholarship and playing well enough to become a professional because my golf swing consisted (still does, but much less now) of "timing the flip." I will say this, I've never had a real case of the yips. Not to say that I may go a round or a day with some yips, but for the most part the next day and throughout the week, month or summer I'll go without the yips again.

I believe the yips start with faulty technique and that usually creeps up into getting worse and worse and then the brain takes over and starts to compensate for a faulty technique and then it can't compensate enough or compensates too much and that becomes an overload your nerves start to go haywire.

That being said, as Mangum puts it in his book "Optimal Putting" having a straight back straight thru stroke or an arced stroke is pretty much window dressing. As long as the putter face is square to the target at impact and through the stroke about 2-3 inches past impact, that is what matters.

So I think part of the problem with somebody who gets yips is that they focus too much about trying to achieve the perfect stroke path and in order to do that I believe they more or less steer the putterhead with their hands to get that stroke path.

But the first thing I would check for with yips is alignment. According to David Orr's studies, 80% of golfers cannot aim straight from 6 feet out.

Out of that 80%, about 55% of the golfers have a left aim bias (aim left of the target) and the other 25% have a right aim bias (aim right of the target. Orr's studies show that left aim bias putters tend to subconsciously manipulate the clubface in order to get the ball to the target. On the other hand, his studies show that putters with a right aim bias tend to manipulate the stroke path in order to get the ball to the target.

Meaning, if you have a left aim bias you're more likely to keep your stroke path the same, but you will turn the clubface open right before impact so the clubface is pointing more towards the target. However, if you have a right aim bias you're likely not going to turn the clubface at all, but instead change the path of the stroke by cutting across the ball in order to get the ball to the target.

The former (left aim bias, manipulation of the clubface) sounds like the yips or a recipe for the yips to me. If you don't have the yips doing this, you are likely to eventually get them because it requires the brain to tell the muscles when and how much to rotate direction of the putter face to the right in order to get the ball to the target. And about 99% of the yips I see have the golfer opening the face at the last second. Seriously, when is the last time you saw a right handed golfer with yips consistently miss putts to the left?

So I would suggest getting the Laser Putting Alignment System (LPAS) training aid to help understand your aim bias and possibly understand your tendencies of being a clubface manipulator or stroke path manipulator (

Secondly, I believe that most yips stem from the golfer using the hands too much in the thru stroke instead of gravity and the centrifigul force of the putter head. What Mangum is teaching and I am preaching isn't anything new. I started to notice this when I was 16 years old and watching tour pros putt on the practice green at the old BC Open in Endicott, New York. Most of these pros had putting strokes that had beautiful tempo and flowing so nicely. To me, it just looked like they were letting gravity do the work on the downswing and ever since that moment, I've always tried to feel like I'm allowing gravity to do the work on my putting thru stroke.

When I let gravity do the work I:

- find the putterhead pointing square at the target at impact.
- very likely strike the ball perfectly on the sweetspot
- have the correct speed and touch for the putt
- have tempo

When I get into some problems, it's usually because I'm letting the hands (particularly the right hand) "steer" the club too much and not let gravity do the work. When I'm steering I:

- Get the putterhead closed or open at impact
- I struggle to hit the sweetspot (usually off the toe)
- My speed is all over the place
- my tempo is a bit "jabby"

As I've been talking about "left side connection" and how it improved my golf swing and thus improved my ball striking, I've never mentioned exactly HOW I got back into that conclusion. As I posted before, I met David Orr back when I was 15 years old and he gave me one of his first lessons ever. Back then, Orr admittedly didn't know nearly as much about the golf swing as he did today. However, he did teach me the "left side connection" drill which was the rave in its day. I went on to use that drill for most of the year and really improved my game and ballstriking.

So part of me going back to the left side connection drill, holding the release of the #4 accumulator or "blasting" the left arm off my chest was the drill actually worked for me before.

But the OTHER part of it is you hear from many instructors that the putting stroke is essentially a miniature version of the golf swing. And I'm a good putter, so why not try to use the same type of principles, theories, thoughts, feels and techniques that I use with the putter and apply them to the full swing?

Why not have that left side connection throughout the swing?

Why not allow gravity and the centrifigul force of the club to take over in the downswing?

I later found out that Brian Manzella specifically teaches it (letting gravity do the work):

Like Manzella says, in the swing you have to pivot to more or less allow gravity to do the work, but still get the clubhead to the ball. But the main difference between the putting stroke and the swing or the chip or the flop shot is you pivot on the "swings" and you don't pivot on the putting stroke.


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