Say Bye Bye To Your Belly Putter!

Well it looks like the Royal and Ancient and the USGA make the right decision for once!  No anchoring the putter to your body. I’ve hated that from the beginning and complained about it to all my students for years.

Anchoring the putter against your body is a very distinct advantage.  Now, the long putter is OK with me as long as you hold it out in front of you and not against the body.  In fact on the radio show we had on ESPN years ago I complained about it.  You can hear it here.

Here’s some links to the latest press on this issue.

The Independent in Dublin
The Golf Channel
The Australian Press
Bradley and Simpson say they wouldn’t fight belly putter ban
CBS Sports – Golf to ban anchoring of belly putters, long putters
Dave Peltz

I’ll add more of these as they become available.

How Much Bounce Should You Have On Your Sand Wedge?

I guess we should start with understanding what bounce is in the first place.  It is a roundness of the sole, elevating the leading edge of the golf club. allows for the golf club sole to make contact with the ground rather than the sharp leading edge.  I can not send you to a better source than my pal Jeff Summitt. He is a walking talking expert on ANY technical mumbo jumbo having to do with anything related to a golf clubs.

If you want ALL the technical facts about bounce go to Jeff’s Blog entry

Now, from a player’s point of view.  Your grandpa’s sand wedge that had a great big bulge on the bottom is no longer what touring pros prefer. Why?  For one, the bunkers have changed.  Just like putters used to have seven (7) degrees of loft back in the 70’s, now they have three (3) degrees.  Our greens today are smoother, faster and firmer, thanks to better grasses developed in laboratories, better mowers, better design etc.

In fact, not only has the putter loft changed but so did the putting stroke.  Players today use their shoulders more and use a long smooth stroke where Palmer, Casper and Hogan would pop the ball with their hands.  They intentionally wanted to get the ball airborne and then roll.

Bunkers today are well manicured.  Sand is soft well below the surface.  Where early bunkers could be hard, inconsistent.  Golfers were happy to “blast” out of the bunker and get it anywhere on the green.  Today golfers are logging “sand saves” and getting it consistently close.  Bunkers throughout the golf course are more consistent in sand type, depth and density.

Rather than blasting, players today glide the golf club just below the ball and take far less sand with the shot.  No  blasting!  More touch and feel which is not possible when blasting.

The sand stroke has evolved to more of a lifting and hinging of the golf club on the back swing and then a turning of the chest on the downswing and follow though, holding the angle set by the hands at the top of the back swing.  No release or turning over of the forearms with this swing.  Quite the opposite.  Keep the club face pointer skyward on the follow through.

This strategy would demand less bounce.  Plus, if your sand wedge has a huge amount of bounce or bulge on the sole, the golf club becomes unusable for flop shots or any tight or firm lies around the green.  The bulge will cause the leading edge to be elevated at impact so you blade the ball across the green.

Here’s a video I did on the bunker shots with some pros on tour.  Hope this helps!

Practice Golf Approach Shots Or Around the Green?

One of our very valued members asked about the Blog entry concerning Matt Kuchar  where I mention that Matt did so well from 10 – 15 feet and in and getting it closer than most of the field from 100 yards out.

I like it when a member or student asks questions.  It makes me re-think what I said and make sure I am getting my point across accurately.  Sometime I could be wrong.  Ask my wife, she’ll tell you! 

Well our member asked, “I seem to recall you saying practice your six footers and your lag putts. How does that square with the statement below?”  Well here’s my statement:

Maybe you need to adapt your practice habits to concentrate on 75 to 100 yard shots and 10 – 15 foot putts. Up and in from 100 yards out. Oh yea, he’s also rated 3rd in scrambling from the rough

My answer:

Yes Matt had tremendous success from the 10 – 15 foot range. Better than the field! But in overall putts made vs. putts missed, the 5 to 6 foot range is the only distance that players have conversion numbers as high as 90+ %.

Putts made within 5 feet Louis Oosthuizen 98%
Putts made form 10 – 15 feet Y.E. Yang 40.83% 
I guess he was putting out the Ying Yang!  Sorry, I couldn’t help myself!

Now, one might argue that attempting to get the ball to within six feet from 75 to 100 yards is unrealistic BUT I’m considering that you will actually have, (especially amateurs) more potential save putts from chips and bunker shots, little lobs shots from around the green, where you do have an opportunity to get the ball within six feet. Your score will lower quicker by chipping up within six feet and making it, than from the 100 yard distance.
Once I felt confident enough that my shots around the green, (long lag putts, chips, bunker shots, lob shots) were getting within six feet and I could make the six footer, THEN I would concentrate on the 75 yard shot to within six feet and make it.  I would not practice a ton of 10 – 15 foot putts. Go for the 98% not the 40%.
Only an opinion, but I think around the green is more important to the golfer that hits maybe 6 or 7 greens in regulation. Improve the swing a little more and move up to 8 greens in regulation on average, maybe 9?  But, you have more than half of the greens where you have the opportunity to pick up a shot by saving par from off the green.  For that to happen more times than not, you need to get it within six feet. The best can’t do better than 40%.

Still the overwhelming comment on tour is, “you make all your money 80 yards and in.”  The rest, (in my estimation) is just don’t hit it in the garbage.  Move the ball around the obstacle course until you get near the green.  Then like a good bull fighter, take out the red cape, your sword and let him have it!