Tuesday, September 1, 2015
The Search for Flat Stick Nirvana (Part II - 9.1.15)
Finding my very own Billy Baroo doesn’t make much sense without improving my putting stroke. One can have the greatest tool in the world, but if they don’t know how to use it then they are just spinning their wheels.
Part of the genesis for The Search for Flatstick Nirvana is that I’ve made tremendous strides in my swing working with Kelvin Miyahira. I have also learned movement pattern training methods from instructor Lucas Wald and some other things from people like Mike Hebron, Trilliium Sellers Rose, Dr. Keith McDaniel and others that I feel that I can practice more efficiently. In other words, I can spend less time practicing the full swing and get better at sustaining my mechanics and implementing new mechanics. It’s no longer the ‘chiropractor approach’ to practice where I must spend time on the range in fear of my swing getting out of whack.
For instance, I was striking the ball extremely well for about 3 months straight once I figured out a movement pattern training regimen that worked for me. But, in the last 2 weeks I started to get into a funk with my golf swing. With that being said, my scores on average were still very good, I just wasn’t hitting the ball quite like I was in the 3 months prior. I finally got some movement pattern training in front of a full length mirror and found out a couple of things that were giving me issues (one of which I’ve never really practiced) and voila…back to hitting the ball like I was in the previous 3 months. That has made me confident that I don’t need to practice as much with the ballstriking because my swing mechanics changes have become permanent and I have the practice regimen in place to troubleshoot problems and implement new mechanics if needed in a short period of time.
With the success I’ve had with movement pattern training with the full swing, I plan on giving it an attempt with the putter as well. The difficult part is that the putting stroke is much shorter than the golf swing. Furthermore, we want to let “gravity do the work” on the thru stroke instead of accelerating the putter thru the ball.
With slow motion training, it may be very difficult to alter speeds of the putting stroke to progress. Furthermore, with slow motion training it may be counterintuitive to “letting gravity do the work” in the thru stroke.
That’s why I tend to think putting is a bit more ‘drill based’ in terms of practice whereas drills are more counterproductive in the full swing practice:
For me, the largest issue I’ve had with my putting is with the aim. I have a tendency to aim severely to the right of the target. My way was to work on aiming the putter correctly and then that would take care of the rest. But as John Graham (www.johngrahamgolf.com) recently tweeted, from his experience if you want to improve your aim you need to improve your stroke, first. Then the golfer starts to figure out the aim. By trying to fix your aim first, the golfer is likely to make compensations in their stroke to counter their faulty aim and more or less fall into the same old habits.
Putting instructor and neurology expert, Geoff Mangum (www.puttingzone.com) , discusses that as well.
What I have been working on before I saw Geoff’s video is my putting launch direction, using the Dave Pelz Putting Tutor:
What I found before I saw the Mangum video is that I would consistently hit the left marble, even though I was taking my putting stroke on an inside arc and NOT looping it either. I found that I had a tendency to ever so slightly yank the putter head in too soon and that would cause the ball to launch left. Perhaps explaining why I aimed right….to naturally counter that leftward launch. I found that it almost felt like I was trying to hit a ‘push-draw’ with the putter in order to get the ball thru the marbles.
I also found that when I was getting the putter head going down the line just after impact, the follow thru was shorter and it felt like I was just naturally allowing gravity to do the work in the thru stroke. One of the things I had heard Frank Nobilo (and I believe Brandel Chamblee as well) discuss is how when they see guys on Tour putting well they don’t ‘recoil’ putter head in the follow thru. And I think that is a case of a golfer letting gravity do the work and not yanking the putter head inside right into impact. Or letting the ‘boom’ do the work as Geoff Mangum illustrates.
What I did find is that my launch improved, but I had a difficult time with speed because the ball was traveling further despite putting what I felt was the same amount of effort.
With that, I purchased the Mi Putting Template.
I think this is well designed to allow for proper movement pattern training. There’s no resistance required in the stroke and one can use slow motion to follow not only the path, but the putter face as well and make sure they are ‘doing it right.’
If it didn’t require any practice, then everybody would reach flatstick nirvana. But now armed with better knowledge on how to practice and to obtain new movement patterns and make them permanent, the journey seems perfectly attainable.