For instance, one of the things I hated was my sawed off looking finish in my golf swing.
I started to understand why I was making that sawed-off finish position. It was mainly a function of a club path going too far left with a chest that was not open enough at impact. This would hurt my game, mainly making it more difficult to control the clubface. So I have worked to fix that and over time my finish has looked more ‘pro-like.’
With my putting, I took note of the following things:
- I hated how I putted on putts from 4-10 feet. I was a poor putter, relative to the baseline avg. make % on these putts.
- I hated how I putted on slow greens. I was a poor putter, relative to the baseline avg. make % on these putts.
- I would have a putt that I despised making…this low launching pull that looked like it just got eaten up by the grass and I had no chance of making it and it would miss left and short.
- I was a good putter, relative to the avg. make % on fast greens.
- I was a good putter, relative to the avg. make % on putts from 10-20 feet.
For a long time I have wanted to see my friend, David Orr (www.flatstickacademy.com) for my putting. I first met David when I was 14 years old as we grew up not too far from each other in New York. David was an aspiring Tour professional who was a really good ballstriker, but struggled with the putter. Eventually, he became an instructor and he wanted to understand the science of putting and is, arguably, the greatest putting instructor in the world. His students have included numerous pros such as Justin Rose, Suzanne Pettersson, Hunter Mahan, Cheyenne Woods, etc.
If you ever go onto David’s Web site (FlatstickAcademy.com), it has an enormous wealth of knowledge on what seems like an infinite amount of subjects with regards to putting. The site’s membership is $6/month and you can end your subscription at any time. To me, it’s by far the best golf instruction online membership site on the internet, today.
The only issue is that it’s always difficult to diagnose your own putting issues. And for me, I became averse to working on my putting because I didn’t want to work on bad habits. Going to see David in person meant that we could properly diagnose my strengths and weaknesses and create a plan to follow to make for permanent improvement.
And I also wanted to understand those things that I hated about my putting.
David now bases his golf instruction out of the Pine Needles Lodge and Golf. This is located just minutes away from Pinehurst. David has excellent packages that include putting instruction, putter fitting and lodging at the resort.
Pine Needles is a fantastic resort. The lodging can hold up to 4 people in an old fashioned lodging design.
You have quality restaurants and bar/grilled just a short walk away as well as a top-notch practice facility with Pro V1 range balls where you can hit balls from various locations and a short course that is 4 holes called ‘The Loop’ which is a blast to play.
David has an outdoor, real grass putting green designed just outside his studio that is about as perfectly flat as an outdoor real grass putting green can be. And the Pine Needles and Mid Pines golf courses right there, you have the chance to play top of the line golf courses that I just a short walk to get to:
My lesson was the 3 hour package. The first thing we did was have me putt some on the regular practice green. David observed my putting stroke and eventually had me putt some uphill and downhill putts that left-to-right and right-to-left. He also took some videos of my putting stroke outdoors.
The main theme of our lesson?
Working on the Smash Factor of my putting stroke.
The putter has the highest smash factor of any club in the bag. Whereas a driver may get up to a max of 1.50 Smash Factor (Smash Factor = Ball Speed / Club head speed), the putter can a smash factor up to 1.90.
Obviously, a mis-hit will reduce the smash factor. But, I was hitting my putts on the sweet spot of my putter. The problem was my stroke was designed to not allow much energy transfer from the putter head to ball.
In essence, I had a long backstroke and I had to have a longer backstroke because the ball came off the face too ‘softly.’ The only way I could get the ball to the hole was to take the longer backstroke.
And this explained one of the questions I had:
Relative to the avg make % being the baseline…why am I an better than average putter on fast greens and a miserable putter on slow greens?
I think it’s because I’m a pretty good green reader that read those putts on faster greens. But, the faster greens means that I can take a shorter backstroke and there would be less for me to ‘screw up’ from a putting stroke perspective.
In my case, David saw that I had what he calls an ‘under-twist’ motion. A small clockwise motion from my right hand thru impact.
And this would explain my issues on putts from 4-10 feet.
Those putts have a little less to do with green reading (IMO). You can be a little off with the green reading on those putts and still make the putt whereas a putt from 10-20 feet if you’re a little off with the read, your chance of making the putt plummets.
The 4-10 foot putts are more about initial direction of the putt, launch, etc. A poor quality of strike will likely mean a miss than a weak read (IMO).
David actually brought his own putter to the green and started putting with me. He then went over some instruction with me on the green. We changed my grip (I had a very strong right hand grip) as well as going over different types of rotation in the putting strokes (closed to open, open to closed, square to square). And we also worked on the radius of my stroke as I had a tendency to lengthen the radius in my backswing.
We then headed to David’s putting studio.
The putting studio has 3D motion capture, Puttview, Sam Puttlab, a putter fitting setup, etc. First, we got in front of a mirror and altered my setup position a little. I had the ball too far forward at address. David also added a little bit of right lateral bend at address (about 3 degrees). He showed it in the mirror so I could see what I looked like with the new address change.
From there, we went onto the SAM Puttlab on the Puttview platform and measured my stroke.
A few notes from my original SAM Puttlab measurements:
- My aim was only off by about 0.4 degrees to the right at address.
- My path moved quite a bit to the left which helped cause the Smash Factor issues.
- I opened the putter face quite a bit in the backstroke.
- I had too much forward shaft lean at impact
If you haven’t seen PuttView…you’re missing out. And if you want to become an expert putting coach, PuttView will greatly help expedite that process.
First, PuttView can change the degree of the slope on a putt by 4%. So if you want to work on a 2.3% right to left putt, the platform can change to that. It takes about 15-20 seconds to change the slope.
Then there’s all of the PuttView optics, many of which are shown in the video. You can show the AimPoint, the tangent line, the line of the putt where it hits the entry point of the cup, the ‘banana view’ (3 different lines to the hole depending on the speed you want to hit it), etc.
I thought one of the coolest things PuttView offered is that it would show the line of the putt with the line going from the ball to the cup at the same speed as a putt that ends up 1 foot past the cup or a putt that dies into the hole.
For my situation, we used PuttView mostly because of how I putted Right-to-Left putts. I would aim very square to the target on straight putts and left-to-right putts. But, I would aim DEAD RIGHT on right-to-left putts. Combine that with the ‘under-twist’ movement, it was a clear fear of hitting a pull…particularly on right-to-left putts.
Some more alterations were made to the putting stroke as we adjusted my wrist position at address. And amazingly enough, just by looking at my stroke David could tell that I didn’t have enough pressure in my right middle and ring fingers! Just by looking at the stroke he could see that I would lose that pressure in my fingers during the stroke and we worked to keep that pressure constant throughout the stroke. When we started to look at my stroke on the SAM Puttlab with those changes, we started to see even better aim at address, less face change and rotation and a smaller path to the left.
This led to the putter fitting. I have always been confused by what putter I should use as I’ve virtually been fitted for mallet style putters by every fitter I’ve ever worked with. Yet, I have never putted well with mallets for any length of time. In fact, the best I ever putted was with a Wilson 8802 putter as a junior golfer. And I would have fitters tell me that my stroke didn’t fit that 8802!
Going into the lesson, I figured that I would probably be fitted for a Fang Style putter. David has said on his Web site that golfers that want to avoid a pull tend to go to the mallet style putter. I have never used a Fang style putter, so I figured that would probably be the best option for me to avoid the pull, but not be your typical mallet design that I suck at putting with.
Instead, David had me fitted with a blade style putter. In fact, probably the bladiest blade of all blades.
The SeeMore mFPG
While we were fitting for the putter, we made a couple more alterations. Particularly taking the forward shaft lean out at address because I had too much shaft lean at impact. The SeeMore works well in that regard because of the Red Dot they have to help align the golfer without the shaft lean.
That’s when my stroke on the SAM Puttlab became really good. The aim was off by less than 0.3 degrees at address, the face change and rotation greatly reduced and the path was only going about 0.3 degrees to the left. Originally it was going about 2 degrees left.
And this meant a much shorter backstroke with a far better smash factor. And my aim on right-to-left putts when from aiming wayyyy right to basically being spot on.
But, David also gave me some options of putters to choose from and we went on the SAM Puttlab to try them out.
The Toulon Austin putter was arguably the best fit for me with the SeeMore.
We also tried the TaylorMade Soto:
The TM Soto didn’t fit as well, although it was worlds better than my gamer, the Bettinardi Queen B #9.
In the end, David preferred the SeeMore for me. Although his intuition was that I would likely have the best possible fit with a blade/Anser style putter that either had no or ½ offset and the hosel location was somewhere between the SeeMore and the TM Soto hosel locations. I do have the Toulon Long Island at home that I haven’t used in a while:
David said he wished that I had brought it with me as that may have been a better fit. However, the Toulon Long Island is at 2/3rd offset. It’s also hard to argue how good I was stroking the SeeMore and it has the red dot to help me align my hands at address properly.
So I purchased the SeeMore with the following specs, per David:
35” long (my Bettinardi was at 34” and was way too short for me).
70* lie angle
Midsize Pistol Grip
In all it was a fantastic time that has gotten me excited about putting again. The following day I played Pine Needles and I couldn’t get over how much better my putting from inside 10-feet was despite having to use my Bettinardi putter which doesn’t fit me at all.
And I think David has some incredible instruction/stay packages available. Between the instruction and the fitting, serious golfers like myself will save a lot of money and frustration by putting better and having to use 1 putter instead of inconsistent putting and buying a new putter every year, hoping that will finally cure your woes.
While there are some really good putting instructors out there, I don’t think any of them are the complete package as David and his understanding and data on the hands and wrist movements in the putting stroke is unparalleled. And more importantly, I think he's going to get rid of all of those things I hate about my putting.