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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Are 'Hook Putts' Really Easier to Make? (Video)

This GC video from Billy Kratzert and Notah Begay III tries to explain the science behind the belief that players make more putts that curve around them than putts that curve away from them. It's roughly 5.5 minutes long. However, I'm not sure it's completely successful. Take a look:

For many of you, that circle with the percentages is confusing. Let me try to help. If you imagine a flat green with an axis that runs through the 9 and 3 o'clock positions, the 12 o'clock position is the high side and the 6 o'clock position is the low side.

Remember, they're talking about righthanders here. For a leftie on the same slope (12 o'clock high), the percentages would be flipped. In other words, for a leftie, the 1 o'clock and 11 o'clock percentages would flip, the 2 and 10 percentages, and so on. But I'll just use the circle as you see it in the video and discuss it as a rightie.

If you look at the circle, you'll see an interesting contradiction. Regardless of which way the putt curves, the putts directly on either side of the hole (between 2 and 3 o'clock and between 10 and 8 o'clock) are almost equally hard to make. Conversely, the second-easiest putt is the one from 12 o'clock, the one going straight downhill:
  1. 48.2% is at 5 o'clock
  2. 47.1% is at 12 o'clock
  3. 46.2% is at 7 o'clock
  4. 40.9% is at 4 o'clock
  5. 40.1% is at 6 o'clock
All of the putts between 4 and 7 o'clock are high-percentage shots, better than 40%. So it would appear that not all slice putts are so hard to make. Take some time to study that circle and I think you'll find that some of the slice putts are pretty high-percentage.

It seems to me that Notah has a more helpful tip in the last minute or so of the video. He says the problem seems to be more about the toe of the putter being raised too high on the slice putts. (Hey, we all know that some good players routinely putt with the toe in the air. We'll ignore that for now.) The key, based on what Notah says, is to make sure the sole of the putter rests flat against the slope of the green.

And yes, I know that Notah misses the slice putt he attempts around the 4:45 mark... but if you look closely, you'll also see that he has the toe raised. That's the very thing he says you shouldn't do!

So what do I think you should learn from this video?
  • Slice putts aren't necessarily harder to make than hook putts. Rather, the straighter the putt is -- and the more uphill it is, regardless of whether it's a slice or a hook putt -- the easier that putt will be to make. (Duh!)
  • If you want to make a higher percentage of slice putts, make sure you sole the putter on the green the same way for all putts.
Simple ideas, but putting well is usually about simple things. Remember that.

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