Putting Fix - Left Hand Low
First of all, let me express my thanks to all of you who participated in our survey of brand names, and offered up your ideas for names for the new 2011 line of wedges. As you might imagine, there were some that were pretty darn strong (you guys should be in the ad business!), and some that made us chuckle. But that was the whole idea. We’ll keep you all posted on where this goes.

Now, on to the topic for today’s post. One of my struggles for my entire golf life is that I can tend to get a little “yippy” on short putts – you know, the ones you really think you should make. I have streaks where I’m beyond that, but then I’ll have a relapse and get to a point where I dread a short putt. And getting older sure isn’t helping the problem, I’ll assure you. This is entirely a mental thing, and manifests in golfers of all ages; it is completely non-discriminatory. The “yips” nearly drove Bernhard Langer from professional golf . . . two or three times! Each time, he’s found a way to beat it and get back to form. It’s happened to many others, in varying degrees of severity, and many never recovered.

Well, by late summer, I was getting rather frustrated with this dang disease. On the practice green I would stroke them pure as can be, but on the course I would get quick and miss way too many. I’ve taken a few weeks off of golf lately, but decided to start practicing this week as we have our season-ending Member/Member tournament next weekend. My partner strongly suggested that he would feel better about it if I would not go in without playing a full round of golf in over two months. I guess that’s reasonable, huh?

Anyway, I had this idea of experimenting with changing my short putt technique to “left hand low” – I never liked “cross-handed” as a description. I went to the practice green and began drilling 3-6 footers right into the center. Then I went out and played a few holes with a friend and it translated to the course rather well – I made a couple of birdies in the 6-12’ range, and three par putts of 5’ and under. We’ll see how it shakes out when the competition heats up a bit, but let’s talk about why this is not all that “unconventional” a technique for short putts.

To me, most importantly, what the left hand low set-up does is make it easier to square your shoulders to the line. When your left hand is above your right, it tends to cause your shoulders to get open to the intended line, which in turn makes it much more difficult to execute a solid back-and-through stroke. When you drop that left hand below the right, it changes the body geometry significantly and squares up the shoulders. Of course, you can overdo that, too.

With the shoulders square, I feel like I am controlling the putter with my right, or master, hand, where all my eye-hand coordination is centered. The left hand provides a simple back and through “guide” for the right hand to follow. I also think this method works best with a face-balanced putter design – mine is an older Ray Cook Austin mallet.

My own twist on this experiment is that I’m only using the left-hand-low technique on shorter putts – ones that I think I should make, or have a good chance to make. My lag putting is generally pretty good, and I make a good percentage of longer putts, so I’m approaching those conventionally. I’ve written about the notion of using two putters for the different length putts, so this experiment is about using a different technique for short putts and long ones. When it’s more about the line, I’ll go left-hand-low. When it’s more about distance control and touch, I’ll go conventional. Should be interesting, and I’ll report to you guys how it works out.

In the meantime, does anyone have any good stories about putting experiments to share?

photo source
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[ comments ]
Banker85 says:
i started this about mid season and it has helped with the short putts so well. I just seem to hit it exactly where i want to. It can sometimes get my rythm off as if say im inside ten feet i might start conventional and switch and then back, so i am unsure of which approach would be best and when your not confident in the stroke nothing good usually comes out of it. So now i boiled it down to if i am with in the flag stick, left hand low, anything else conventional.
woobwoob says:
I'm curious if this still works out for you in a few months, once the "new" factor has worn off and it is part of your permanent game. Many pros switch putting techniques when they are missing too many putts they should have made, and in the short term, it works because they have a "new weapon". But more often after a while the "new putting strategy" has lost it's luster and they start missing putts again.
dottomm says:
Sounds like the entire game of golf to me.
snuffyword says:
I switched to left hand low about 7 years ago. I don't have the talent or feel as many other golfers have. I am more of a mechanical kind of golfer. So my thinking is, try to eliminate as many factors as possible and all I have to worry about is distance control. This has worked well for me. However, I am still learning to read greens and judge breaks. I have a terrible eye for that.
birdieXris says:
I did the left hand low thing a while back. I never did like it. It gave me a false feeling of solid. Everything i hit felt really solid but the distance was all over the place. I switched back and i feel like i have a much better feeling of where i'm hitting it on the putter face, high low, toe heel. even a little bit gives feedback.
aaronm04 says:
I took a trip to Monterrey, CA this past summer and was putting inconsistently at the time. I had had enough so I sat in my hotel room and reworked my putting stroke. My putting stance had gotten too upright, my eyes not over the ball enough, and I kept my left arm straight which was causing too much tension. I went to a stance that was more like Jack Nicklaus'. Hands closer to the body, more "hunched over," eyes over the ball, elbows in, and focusing on a loose grip. A big change that was literally overnight. The next day, if I wasn't sinking the putts, I was VERY close to doing so.
Envythepea says:
A few years ago I bought a new Odyssey White-Steel Two Ball putter. I loved the feel of it in the store and drained every putt in the store. I paid full price in an over-priced golf shop. On the course my buddies would offer to buy it from me for varying amounts ranging from $5.00 to $20.00 depending on how bad I was putting with it. Early this year I switched to the left hand low technique and instantly felt more control and confidence in my putting. I still have a few bad days but for the most part I'm convinced this is my permanent putting style. They're not offering to buy it from me any longer, which is a good sign.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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