A while ago I purchased the Putt Out putter training aid. Here’s video promo from Putt Out describing the training aid:
I got my PuttOut training aid from the PGA Tour Superstore for $29.99. Since I got back into the game in 2009, putting has no longer been a strongsuit of mine. I have found that I can putt well in competition if I adequately prepare myself. But it really starts with nailing putts from 3-6 feet for me. I have a tendency to run real hot or cold from that distance whereas putting from say 10-20 feet my deviation in performance is much narrower.
The idea of the PuttOut was more specifically to train for the 4-foot putt. The plastic white cup provides a real life cup situation. And the ball rolling up the ramp and back to the golfer allows them to hit more putts and get more practice in (theoretically). If the ball goes over the cup, up the ramp and back to the golfer, the golfer (again, theoretically) would have made the putt. If the ball rolls off the side, then (theoretically), the golfer probably would have lipped out the putt. It also has a small hole that can be used. If the ball is captured by the hole on the ramp, the golfer has hit the putt the perfect speed.
What I like about the PuttOut is the ease of use. It’s very light and small. You can fold the PuttOut and even store it in your golf bag. It’s main purpose is to use at your home or office. They do have a mat that can be rolled up to give a smoother surface and a projected 10 on the stimpmeter that retails for $89.99. Granted, the ease of use is not a main priority for me when it comes to a putting training aid. I am looking for something that will turn me into a better putter. But the PuttOut’s ease of use is certainly a selling point for the product. It’s not a pain to set up, it’s not too big or too heavy or complicated to assemble.
As far as the purpose of what it was supposed to, I will start out with the ‘roll back’ feature. This is where the ball rolls up the ramp (on a presumed ‘made putt’) and comes back to the golfer. I generally found that the ball will roll back about 18” to 24” from the hole when I was putting on my carpet. I was putting on a fairly normal carpet, so more plush carpets would result in it rolling back less and more firm, fire-retardant type carpets would allow for more roll-back. In the end, I would reach for the ball with my putter and bring it back to where I was putting from. There are devices that shoot the ball back to you, but they are a bit cumbersome as well. Overall, the roll back feature wasn’t that great.
The latest science claims that the perfect speed of a putt is 2-3 revolutions per second. There are some factors that can change that perfect speed. Faster surfaces (or downhill putts) would mean a perfect speed closer to 2 revolutions per second. Slower surfaces (or uphill putts) would mean a perfect speed closer to 3 revolutions per second. I have no idea if Putt Out adhered to that scientific claim or not. But when using the Putt-Out, the putts that would have been deemed to have gone in the hole did appear to be putts that would go in the hole.
Personally, I prefer the ‘perfect speed’ feature where you open the hole in the back plastic and if you hit a putt the perfect speed the ball will get stuck in the hole. I cannot say for certain that the ball getting stuck in the hole was actually on perfect speed putts, but it appeared that…at worst…it was not too far off. If anything, it appeared that putts that stuck in the ‘perfect speed hole’ were maybe a hair slower than perfect speed. But again, I have no real proof backing that up.
I often get asked ‘what does the Tour data show is the distance I should practice from?’
Well, there are a couple of ways I look at the data.
Here’s a chart showing the correlation of make % from specific distances on Tour and its correlation to the player’s Strokes Gained – Putting for the last 5 seasons (2013-2017):
The closer the correlation number is to 1.0 means that there is a stronger direct relationship between make % from a certain distance and the player’s Strokes Gained – Putting on *all* putts. The chart above shows that 5-foot putt make % has the strongest correlation, followed by 4-foot putt make %. Then 6-foot putt make % has the 3rd strongest correlation and then there’s a sizeable drop-off in correlation when we go 7-foot putt make percentage.
The other way is to look at the data compiled by the Tour and Dr. Mark Broadie:
This chart shows the Tour average make % from each distance in 1-foot increments. It also shows the average putts to the hole from each distance. I then make a column to show how many strokes are lost if the player misses the putt and 2-putts from each distance. Finally, the last column shows the difference in strokes lost on a missed putt from the previous distance.
For example, from 7-feet the average Tour player makes 56% of their putts. From 8-feet they make 49% of their putts. That translates to the average player having 1.443 strokes to the hole from 7-feet and 1.515 strokes to the hole from 8-feet.
That also means if the player misses the putt and 2-putts…from 7-feet they lost -0.557 strokes to the field and from 8-feet they lost -0.485 strokes to the field. Since a 7-foot putt is closer…the make % is higher. And that means that when a player misses a 7-footer, it’s more severe of a penalty (in terms of judging putting skill) than if they missed an 8-footer.
But the drop-off in strokes lost (-0.557 for a 7-footer missed vs. -0.485 for a 8-footer missed) is 0.072 strokes.
The biggest dropoff according to the chart is when a player misses a 5-footer versus missing a 4-footer. The second biggest dropoff is when a player misses a 6-footer versus missing a 5-footer.
In fact, here’s a chart showing the drop-offs:
What does this mean?
It just means that the most significant drops in make percentages occur on putts make from 5-feet versus 4-feet and then on make percentages from 6-feet versus 5-feet.
As far as the correlation between make %’s from certain distances and Strokes Gained – Putting…my guess is that the slightly different change in the results (4-footers being more important than 6-footers) is that on Tour there may be more 4-foot attempts per round than 6-foot attempts per round.
So, what does that have to do with the Putt-Out training aid?
If the aid is meant for putts around 4-feet long…then they are on the right track in terms of what golfers should work on. The data suggests that 5-footers are more important, but in general the average golfer cold probably work on putts from 4-6 feet and I don’t think moving back a foot or two with the Putt-Out defeats the purpose and use of the training aid. Also, since the Putt-Out is more focused on speed control, I think that's the right thing to focus on for 4-6 foot putts. As I have talked to numerous putting teachers about golfers that struggle on short putts...usually it's a speed control issue and usually the golfer is hitting putts too hard and trying to 'take the break out of the putt.' With the Putt-Out, you can certainly 'make' putts by ramming them in, but you will not get the ball to stick on the perfect speed putt hole.
I think the pricing point could be a little lower, but avid golfers can get great use out of it and beginners could be really helped by the speed control visual the Putt-Out provides.