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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Bobby Locke Putting (Video)

Everybody talks about how the great South African golfer Bobby Locke used to pull his putts into the hole but was a great golfer anyway. I found this video that really gives you a good view of how his unorthodox putting technique looked from the hole. (We're not looking straight down his putting line, which means he's REALLY pulling the ball. In this video, the hole is actually directly "below" the shoelace on his lead foot.)

As you can see, he took the putter way inside on the way back -- see how closed his putting stance was? -- and then he hit the ball with the putterface hooded (closed to his putting line). This caused the ball to actually move straight toward the hole or just slightly to the left. (If he had been a lefty, the ball would have moved to his right.) And his hands didn't move a whole lot because he used a very wristy stroke.

Why am I showing you this?

It's because we get so bound up in mechanics. We try to set our feet exactly parallel to our aim line. Then we try to swing the club back either perfectly straight along that aim line (Pelz style) or we try to create a nice gentle arc (Utley style). Then we worry about whether we keep our wrists firm or keep our lead wrist bowed through impact or...

And we still miss putts.

Bobby Locke, on the other hand, is considered one of the best putters ever to have played the game. (Among his 74 worldwide titles, he won four Opens and 15 PGA Tour events.) Does his putting stroke look like he even thought about all those things? No way!

The best putters relax and let the putter swing freely at the ball. They aim the face of the putter where they want the ball to go, and then they don't worry about the path so much. You're unlikely to make such a bizarre stroke as Locke's, but if he could make putts with that stroke, you can make putts with yours!

Simplify things -- just focus on aiming the putterface at the hole and getting your speed correct. You'll make more putts that way.

BTW, if you're curious, here's the reason his stroke worked: Modern science has proven that most of the direction your putt travels is determined by where the face is aimed at impact. (I believe Pelz says it's 84%.) That means that Locke's extreme inside swing would still send the ball out a little to his right -- a pushed putt. But by hooding the face, he actually aimed his ball just a bit to the left of his swing path, and that compensated for the small amount of push the club's path would have created.

The hooded face also insured that he hit the ball solidly, the way a good ballstriker does with his or her irons, so he never hit the ball with a weak stroke. That made the ball roll end over end more often.

A stroke like Locke's is the result of practicing enough to trust your aim. But once you get that, it's just a matter of hitting the ball with the right speed.

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