You Are Not Alone - Get Some Help!
By Tim Horan on 6/16/14
oober Tim Horan, a London-area resident, explains why even just a quick conversation with your local teaching professional is never time wasted. Enjoy!

I had all but given up on ever becoming a good putter.

I have always struggled with distance control on the longer putts, relying on missing the green to allow me to chip close and one putt from shorter range. Lately, this strategy has failed me and I started to struggle with lining up short putts.

With each new thing that I tried, I found limited success. Longer shafts, centre-shafted, face-balanced, lighter grip, adding lead tape to putter heads... all had a "quick fix" but short-lived benefit.

I had just invested in a new (last year's model) Odyssey Protype Black putter at a very reasonable $120. This putter weighs in at 340 grams and is by far heavier than anything I had owned before. It worked like a dream for three weeks and then, like all of my initiatives, my putting fell apart big-time.

I was playing in a friendly with Simon (our club professional) one Friday evening; it was for money, so not that friendly and certainly not the sort of round where it was appropriate to seek a few pointers or tips from him.

I was putting like a dead frog hooked up to a car battery: I was able to read the putts well enough, but had no coordination, no rhythm, distance control, etc. Added to which, every putt finished right of the hole.

After the round, Simon simply took the money and said, "That was interesting. Come and see me in the morning if you have five minutes, I could take a look at that putting of yours."

Arriving early for a friendly round with some mates, I took Simon up on his offer. He had observed two things the evening before. One was an alignment issue which is an old injury where, unless I am really concentrating, my shoulders get way open to the target line and my hips get sort of closed to the line of the putt. Well, almost any shot, really. It really is a struggle to get comfortable at address some days.

Simon did not change my ball position in the stance, grip, or basic stroke, but what he did do was to simply move me closer to the target line. I had always thought that my eye-line was over, or very close to, the ball and target line. Dropping a ball from my left temple Simon showed me that my normal set up was well inside the target line. The ball struck my putter shaft some five inches from the hosel.

Moving my eyes over the ball produced a slightly toe-down address position and the putter felt over-long in my hands. That is something that I will have to adjust in time.

Having spent only five minutes with me, Simon left me on the green to practice on my own. Immediate success! Draining 10-footers one after another, six-footers, and even three-footers... they were all going in. The alignment thing that was going on sorted itself out in the process. Something to do with being uncomfortable over the ball — a new focus, I guess.

That morning, I netted five birdies with putting stats that Luke Donald would be proud of. I backed these up with bogeys and double-bogeys, but that is another story and maybe the subject of another article.

I am reminded of an article here on oobgolf some years ago along the lines of "80% of all club golfers are playing putters two inches or so too long." I must check this out.

I think if there is a point to this article, it would have to be to involve your club professional — get some help, whatever the issue: Putting, driving, or chipping. Even tour professionals have other pros take a look and have swing coaches that they visit from time to time.

A couple of weeks ago, David Howell came down for a 20-minute session with Clive Tucker, our senior teaching pro before heading off to a tournament in Asia. Howell's ball-striking was absolutely amazing! Clive himself was heading out to the United States that afternoon for a quick look at G-Mac's short game and was back home and teaching at Wildwood late the following day.

The point is that the sessions do not need to be long, drawn-out, and structured lessons.

I have a great relationship with my pro. We talk, we talk golf, golf equipment, and if something new comes out, one or other of us will stop and pass it on. I recently went to Simon with a theory I had read that week about lowering your hands at address to keep the club head outside the line in the backswing.

His response? "Interesting concept. Let's take a look." We spent probably five minutes in the pro shop slow motioning take-aways. I think we both got something from it.

So, don't think you are alone out there. Ask your pro to take a look. Read instruction articles and get your pro's opinion on the methods and drills you have read. It is far easier to engage him in conversation and then approach the subject of a lesson from there.

I have sort of wandered all over the place with this post, but I hope it will inspire you to get some help along the way.

This column was written by Tim Horan, a reader / follower / fellow oober. The opinions stated above are 100% his and do not necessarily reflect those of oobgolf in any way. Enjoy! And remember, he's ready for your feedback.

Have an idea for a guest column? Send it here!

Image via Twitter, ISM

[ comments ]
Torleif Sorenson says:
Tim is spot-on. A five-minute lesson with a now-deceased former co-worker of mine focused on feeling resistance in the back of my right knee solved a swing glitch he saw in my swing. I will always be grateful to Ben for that five-minute lesson.
joe jones says:
An experienced set of eyes is usually beneficial to any golfer. Recognizing what you are doing wrong is difficult. Knowing how to correct the problem is even harder.
bkuehn1952 says:
Some good ideas to ponder. Thanks.
[ post comment ]
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