The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Today will start a series of posts that will deal with the 16 aspects of the golf swing and game that are very confusing or have opposing viewpoints. I had intended to start with the left heel issue but I am still gathering information on that one, so we will start with number two on list the putting stroke. The two opposing viewpoints: The putting stroke should be straight back and straight through, or the putting stroke should be an arc much like the golf swing.  There is a long forgotten third putting stroke which we will get to, and after watching the young guys putt yesterday at the San Diego Open maybe they should consider  it.  Let’s look at each of the first two  putting strokes and then I will show you “Where’s the beef?”

The main advantage of the straight back and straight through putting stroke is the ball position is not very important.  The stroke is on the intended line for the entire time.  As long as you don’t go too bizarre on the ball position, playing it between your left toe and nose is fine, then your putt will go where you aimed it.

The advantage of the arc stroke, where the putter travels slightly inside the line, then on line, and again slightly inside the line after contact, is that this seems more like a natural way to putt and mimics the golf swing. Since the putter only spends a certain amount of time on the intended line then ball position becomes more critical.  Playing the ball too far back in your stance may cause putts to be missed to the right and too far forward may cause putts to be missed to the left   So “Where’s the beef?”

The beef is that proponents of the arc stroke say the straight back and through stroke is unnatural since golf is played to the side of the ball. They say for anyone to have a straight back and through stroke, there has to be some unnatural manipulation of the clubhead or arm swing. Nothing could be further from the truth. The  main advocate of the straight back and straight through  stroke is Dave Pelz.  In his book the Putting Bible he explains how to putt with this stroke.  You must have enough tilt from your hips toward the ball so your hands are directly under your shoulders. If you create this address position, then this is the only one way your putting stroke can go, and that is  straight back and through.  Any one can try this in their living room and you will see. Now if you want to say that having your hands directly under your shoulders is awkward or uncomfortable, that is ok. But don’t make statements about a putting stroke just so you can further your own method. Once you are in the proper address position, the straight back and through putting stroke is about as natural as you can get .

Now for that third method, which you could say takes the best or worse from the first two methods, depending on your perspective.  In 1961 there was a book written by Horton Smith, titled The Secret of Holing Putts. Horton Smith was one of the great putters of his time, and was a two time Masters Champion.   It is a great book on all aspects of putting and I highly recommend it.   The first secret is what he called hooding and I will quote directly from the book.  ” Hooding is the term given to the necessary counterclockwise turn of the left wrist during the backswing of the putting stoke. This slight rotation is applied in order to keep the blade of the putter constantly perpendicular or square to the line of the putt.”    Well how about those apples. Mr Smith advocated an arc stroke that was very low, but with hooding that kept the blade square to the line.   You will have to get the book to read about the second secret.

There are the three basic putting strokes.  Try them all and see what one may work the best for you. Don’t be afraid to try method two and three because believe me they can work very well.  As I wrote in the beginning of the blog I think some of these young guys that already look like they have the yips may want to delve into number three.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Well here we are it’s 2017, and since my last blog, believe it or not I have played 5 rounds of golf, including one this past Wednesday, to get the first round of the year in. Now one of those rounds was in sunny San Diego but the other 4 were right here in the Burgh. Not bad since November 30th.  My scores went on a roller coaster ride as I shot 75, 80, 76 in San Diego with borrowed clubs(I keep telling you this game is goofy), 83 and 84 this past Wednesday.  Obviously not any closer to an answer, but nobody else is either, and that’s what this post is all about.

During my frustrating year, one of the things I did was to go online to see if I could find something, that might help my game.  Of course, there is a bevy of information out there, some good, some not so good. But the real eye opener is the amount of conflicting information on how to go about hitting a golf ball. What’s a beginning golfer to do?   Everything I am about to list here, comes from  some of the most respected names in golf, ranging from Bob Toski, Ken Venturi, Butch Harman, Jack Nicklaus, and many more. I am going to list them in the order of what I think contains the most misinformation and that are the most confusing. Don’t hold your breath while you are reading this because you will die

  1. You should keep your left heel on the ground during the backswing, or it’s ok to lift the left heel on the backswing or you should lift your heel on the backswing.
  2. The putting stroke should be straight back and straight through, or the putting stroke should be an arc and straight back and straight through is not natural.
  3. The left arm should be straight though out the swing or the left arm does not have to be straight though out the swing.
  4. Play the ball in the same position for all shots, or gradually move the ball back toward the center of your stance as clubs get shorter
  5. At address, the weight should be distributed on the balls of the feet, or over the arch just in front of the ankles, or on the heels of the feet.  Thank God are feet aren’t any bigger.
  6. Restrict your hip turn or do not restrict your hip turn
  7. Your shoulders should turn at least 90 degrees on the backswing, or they do not have to turn 90 degrees
  8. Your swing should be compact and don’t overswing, or make sure your swing is nice and long so you will have plenty of time to make the proper downswing moves.
  9. You should pause at the top of your backswing, or you should not make a conscious pause at the top of your backswing.
  10. Take the club back low and slow, or this is the worse thing you can do is low and slow
  11. Chip like you putt, or do not chip like you putt
  12. You should change your grip to help square up your club face, or you should not change your grip to square up your club face
  13. Hand position at address in relationship to the ball, too many too mention
  14. The first move to start the downswing, too many to mention
  15. Head movement, does it, should it, and how much and what direction
  16. Last but not least, good old Natural Golf with the greatest ball striker of all time the late Moe Norman, as their poster child.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 So what are we to make of all this?  Who is right and who is wrong. Maybe they are all right, or maybe they are all wrong. One thing is for sure, each person or school that advocates any of the things that I have mentioned, think they are right and they have found the holy grail. But we all know that is not true.  Over the next few months I am going delve into each one of these conflicting points. One of the most amazing things I found is the misinformation as to why you should do a certain thing starting with raising the left heel. There may be some delay because next week it looks like that I might even be able to play a couple of times. See  global warming is not all  bad.
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