It’s time to pick on the arrow instead of the Indian
The popular catch-all phrase that attempts to analyze a missed putt says, ” It’s not the arrow, it’s the Indian”which seems to be a great way to let the arrow, (putter) performance off the hook.But has anyone ever wondered if in fact the arrows are so good, why the “Indians” need to use them in such interesting ways?They use a variety of stances, stroke movements and grips all in an effort to make a ball roll into a hole. It seems like an unspoken necessity that is carried out by pros and amateurs alike. Let’s take a look at grips, because I believe they tell the best story-here are a lot of them! The reverse overlap, the left hand low, the claw, the split grip, the arm anchor grip, and until they were deemed non-conforming, there was a variety of body anchoring techniques as well. This year’s Masters playoff between Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose had them both using a claw grip while the commentators discuss it like it is as common as using a tee with your driver. All of these grips are in fact trying to reduce the control instincts of the dominant hand during the motion. Michelle Wei has been seen using several different hand grips during the same round, all in an effort to reduce tension and dominant hand interference with the motion of the stroke. Sam Snead resorted to the side saddle method because he wanted to keep playing competitive golf, while Ben Hogan retired because he couldn’t or didn’t find a way to. Wow, you would think that the best players in the world would be very good at using their dominant hand to help them with their stroke! Has this situation become so mainstream that it is not even questioned? Well let’s question it.
First of all, and primarily, the assortment of grips, postures and methods can be directly related to the performance characteristic of the putters being used. Despite their space age looks, their technology is old.The average toe to heel size, along with head weight, have virtually been unchanged for 100 years. They are small, light and easily manipulated off line. The small dime-size sweet spot that they have, needs a precision movement in order to make contact with the ball.Without this contact, distance and direction will be distorted.It seems like a pretty small target area considering it is the most important aspect of their design, which sounds like an arrow issue.
Sweet spot contact is the number one putting priority while maintaining face direction through contact is number two. When you need to stare at the ball in order to hit the sweet spot of the putter, the ball now becomes the main target of your attention, so now your objective is to hit it square. However, in order to do this, you will need to get the face back to square. This need to control the putter head produces a strong desire to manipulate and micro-manage the arrow. Unfortunately,the more need there is to control club head movement, the more the responsibility gets shifted from the clubs inability to do its job, to the golfers inability to do his job.
Now this is where it gets interesting:because our eyes are on the ball in order to achieve this precision contact, we need to use visualization in order to properly produce the touch and feel necessary for distance control. Remember, touch and feel does not apply to direction during the stroke. You are not supposed to be trying to steer the ball towards the target, you should only be trying to generate the correct energy while making center face contact with the ball – along with a square face.
Keep in mind that all of this adjusting is due to the fact that the putters being used are not efficient tools for the job at hand. The small sizes and weights of these clubs can be compared to a “yes man of industry”… anything you want him to do, he will agree to and go along with, just so long as you keep him on board. This scenario can seem to feel reassuring at the time (especially if you are looking for control,) but it does not translate into successful putting. In an effort to use an inadequate, outdated putter, we are willing to dive into body and hand contortions that do not translate into a dependable,repeatable stroke under pressure situations.
Perhaps it’s time for the physics and technology that we are enjoying on the tees and fairways, to find its way to the green.The same size and weight putters are not cutting it when it comes to performance. It is a fact of physics – not looks, sound or popularity – that determines putter performance .It’s time for a better “arrow, It’s time for an L2 Putter.