Frankly Golf Q and A
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The Putting Stroke
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As we finally rid the dreaded, " straight back and straight through " putting stroke, now we find a new group trying to overwork the putting stroke. Which regulates the path of the stroke? The shaft plane or an area of the body? You might guess that I think it’s a body position and the shaft follows. Your thoughts please.
I am afraid that after watching hundreds (actually thousands) of putting strokes and correcting most of them I have come to believe that many teachers have tried too hard to define the path of the stroke rather than allowing the body to do what is naturally dictated by its physiology.
During some of my work at the USGA on the kinematic analysis of a full swing I became convinced that trying to find the natural and most efficient motion, by studying subjects with various (and sometimes contradictory) tutored versions of this motion, that I was not looking in the right places.
I was overly impressed with the swings of four-year-old golfers who, given a club, were allowed to hit a ball without instruction. The weight shift and even the swing paths were impressive. It was this natural motion, which we should allow to develop and not try to change significantly.
When I started working on the putting stroke — almost a decade ago — I decided to pursue the very basics of good set up, natural posture, with the correct putter length. With these fundamentals in place, I was able to focus on letting the body do what it wanted to do naturally with only minor tweaks and avoid trying to control an unnatural path. This is the basis of my teaching philosophy and one which builds consistency and confidence into a putting stroke.
The body wants – in most cases – to move symmetrically with a smooth unencumbered rhythm. The difference between long and short putts (fast and slow greens) is the length of the backstroke. Otherwise the stroke and thought process is the same especially on those three and four footers where those little voices start talking to you over your putt. Don’t listen to them and have confidence in your stroke and know that you are going to make it. This will result in consistency in the stroke and reduce the sources of error.
Tom, if you are in the Orlando area, I urge you to take the opportunity to visit our Putting Studio and take a putting lesson. I know you will be very impressed with our holistic approach and will leave with confidence.
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Just Hit It
Frank Thomas, the famed former USGA Technical Director for 26 years, shares his views on equipment, marketing and returning the game to its core values in a new book "Just Hit It." For every book sold, the AGA will receive a $5 donation. This a ground-breaking book is a collection of Frank’s trademark candid sharing of his extensive knowledge at the USGA, in addition to his time as design engineer at Shakespeare Sporting Goods, where he invented the graphite shaft. "Reading this book is like engaging [Frank] in a discussion, with the words, ideas and passion flowing freely," said 18-time major championship-winner Jack Nicklaus. "There are few people I know more knowledgeable about the technical aspects of the game of golf, and very few more passionate about the need for integrity and vision in all aspects of the game."