ATTENTION, READERS in the 28 EUROPEAN VAT COUNTRIES: Because of the new VAT law, you probably can't order books direct from my site now. But that's okay -- just go to my Smashwords author page.
You can order PDFs (as well as all the other ebook formats) from there.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Will Putterus Extendus Go Extinct?

While players using regular putters were shooting lights-out at the LPGA and PGA events Thursday, the rumors continued to circulate that the USGA and the R&A will make a ruling about long putters within the next few months.

Most of the rumormongers seem to think that the putters themselves won't be outlawed, only the practice of "anchoring" them against a player's body. If they do, the general belief is that the rule won't take effect immediately, but will be phased in over 3 or 4 years to give players time to learn how to putt normally.

Some believe that bifurcation is inevitable -- that is, that the ruling bodies will make two sets of rules concerning the putters. In that case, amateurs will be able to use them while pros will not.

And a few commentators -- David Feherty is one -- believe that the pro tours should simply make their own laws concerning long putters, regardless of what the "amateur" ruling bodies decide.

If the USGA and R&A decide to outlaw long putters, I'll post some help for those of you struggling to adapt to the new rules. It'll be particularly easy if they merely outlaw "anchoring," as there are other ways to putt legally using long putters.

What bothers me is the mere fact that it has come to this. It sounds harsh, but it seems that no one understands the simple basics of putting anymore... and I blame most of it on technology and how teachers interpret it.

We can now measure things in the putting stroke that we couldn't even conceive a couple of decades ago. There are two problems with this:
  • We think anything that happens during the putting stroke has to be consciously performed by the player.
  • We think that when we can determine "the most efficient" way to do something, we have automatically found "the most effective" way to do something.
Neither of these beliefs are true.

Many of the things we measure during a putting stroke are side-effects of other things we do. For example, if you bend your trailing elbow during your backswing, the clubface is going to make different moves than it will if your trailing elbow remains extended. If you try to get those other moves on the way back by consciously manipulating the clubface, you have to consciously undo them on the way down. However, if you just focus on your elbow, those other things will happen on their own and will probably happen more consistently.

In the second case, let me give you a couple of examples. Most modern teaching says you should hit upward on the ball to get the smoothest roll and theoretically make more putts. Yet Loren Roberts, "the Boss of the Moss," will tell you in no uncertain terms that he wants to hit down on the ball when he putts. And he's not the only good putter who'll tell you that.

Likewise, it's common now to teach a short backswing that accelerates through the ball and makes a longer followthrough. Bobby Jones taught just the opposite, saying that the main key to good putting is a long slow backswing. Listen to commentators admiring Ai Miyazato's stroke -- they say it may be the best in pro golf, and it's a long slow backswing.

Long putters don't make you a better putter if you know the basics of good putting technique; they only help if you're doing it wrong to begin with. For me, the real question is whether a new rule will do anything to change the way we teach putting... or will poor putters simply quit the game in frustration.

That remains to be seen.

No comments:

Post a Comment