To say I am serious about putting would be an understatement. What started as curiosity has evolved into a science fair project that has gotten out of hand, in a good way.
Since 2004, I have been fortunate to have had over 300 PGA Tour, Nationwide Tour, Champions Tour, LPGA Tour, Mini Tour, PGA Professionals, and accomplished amateur players visit my putting lab.
Compared to the full swing, putting is seriously under-researched. Several years ago, I was not convinced what others were saying about the putting stroke was correct, and wanted to come up with a way to determine what is the best way to putt.
I had enough physics in high school and college not to believe in straight back and straight through. The only way a putter could go straight back and straight through without major compensations would be if the putter sat 90 degrees to the ground (the USGA outlawed that by stating the putter could only have a lie angle of 80 degrees or less) or by straddling the line (once again the USGA outlawed that).
By placing the golfer to the side of the ball and putting an angle to the putter that made putting a “side on” game. Every side on game has an arc to it: put a stick on an angle, swing it, and the stick must arc. A baseball bat does not swing straight back and through over home plate, same with a hockey stick, tennis raquet, etc. Therefore I had to do my own research to find out the truth.
After some thought and help from a mechanical engineer friend, I came up with the device that I now have a patent on, The Dynamic Impact Indicator.
The Dynamic Impact Indicator uses a laser system that reflects the exact aim at address and exact impact position of the putter.
The original setup had four cameras connected to V1 Video Analysis Software, two capturing the laser reflection and the others looking at setup positions.
Currently the lab has over 10 different cameras recording the stroke from a multitude of angles:
- Three shooting towards the target;
- Two that view the body from the target line and shaft/hand line; one focused on the putter;
- Two shooting from face on, capturing full body motion;One focused on the hands;
- Two cameras from above the stroke looking at shoulder movement and a second that focuses on the impact position and initial ball roll;
- Two shooting back from the target, one in full view of the body, the other focused on the putter and initial ball roll;
- Finally, one camera shoots vertically from below the putting surface: the player putts on perfectly clear glass making the eyes and shoulders viewable.
The lab is equipped with two Science and Motion (SAM) Products; we call the lab the “SAM Putt and Balance Lab.”
The SAM Putt Lab uses ultra-sound to measure 28 different parameters of a putting stroke. It measures everything from aim to putter rotation to tempo, and anything you can imagine in between.
I classify every player that has hit a putt in the lab by ability level, from PGA Tour player to 36 handicaps. The SAM Balance Lab is a force plate that displays a players weight distribution in real-time before and during the stroke.
Finally, we have the Quintic Ball Roll Software. This system takes high-speed video at 220 frames a second and analyses how the ball is rolling off of the putter and will tell me if the ball is back spinning or top spinning.
Lab is not a word that I use lightly. While the lab is an invaluable teaching and fitting tool, its main purpose is research. As you can see from the equipment above, we measure and analyze with extreme detail. When a player hits a putt in the lab, I am not guessing.
Is there one model that is best for putting? It’s complicated, but the more and more I research about putting, the less and less of a model stroke I believe in. There are certain fundamentals that I think are important, but as far as how you get there, there is a lot of leeway.
The above is just some preliminary background on our putting lab and the science we use to assist us in helping each and every golfer create a sound putting stroke.
Going forward we’ll get into mechanics and stroke. Stay tuned.