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Geoff Mangum's PuttingZone Newsletter
January 31 , 2002

Hi Folks!

In this issue:

1. Putting at the PGA Merchandise Show
2. New PZ Tip -- Putt Out Your Eyes

1. PGA Show

Innovative Putting Items

Putting-related Exhibitors

The 2002 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida, just concluded Sunday, January 27. The Show was jammed with merchandise, to be sure, and this report highlights some of the more interesting and innovative developments for putting.

1. The Pivot Putter. With a design somewhat akin to the putter created several decades ago by the British illustrator Paul Trevillion, Karl Schmidt has introduced the Pivot Putter. The Pivot Putter is short, with a rectangular putterhead that rests upon the turf on two plastic skids. The idea is to eliminate as many degrees of freedom in the stroke motion as possible. The putter is used by resting and pinning the butt of the grip against the inside of the left thigh with the left hand (for right handers), and then moving the shaft back and thru by flexing the left hand, powering the stroke with the left hand and keeping the right hand split down the grip for stability. It looks a lot like an old Billy Casper stroke, with a split-hand grip like Hubert Green and Paul Trevillion (see the Books page). (It is also possible to do this with something of a right-hand "plucking" of the shaft back and releasing it while using a firm left grip -- the tension in the left hand makes the putter spring back flat along the turf into the ball, returning the putterface to its original address position for impact and for a repeating straight roll. But this is not the preferred method.) The result: everyone sinks straight putts repeatedly out to 15 or 20 feet. Many people who stopped for a trial sank as many as 20 in a row from 8 feet. No problem! Watch for this putter to gain some serious attention and lots of fans. LINK (place holder online, full site due in a short time)

2. The Mirip Tech Finale Putter. The Korean design borrows the idea of the face bulge from driver technology to correct for toe-hits and heel-hits with a gear effect. It's surprising that someone hasn't come up with this idea before. In my admittedly non-scientific trials, this putter seemed to work very well indeed to keep these mishits from straying seriously off line. Toe hits appeared to curl right to left back onto line and heel hits appeared to curl left to right back onto line. I'm sure some more exacting testing can tell us a lot more about this putter, so keep your ear to the ground. LINK

3. The Smarttech Convex Putter. The Smartech Putter with its convex face is similar and probably works on the same principle. LINK

4. Dandy Putter's Alan Strand. The Dandy Putter honors the legacies of Horton Smith and Bobby Locke, two of the greatest putters of all time. Smith and Locke, and many others in the 1930s and 1940s, shared the "hooding" technique that kept the face of the putter aimed on the putt line during the stroke. Strand has designed his putter so that this sort of stroking technique is matched with the timing of the shaft to deliver an efficient energy transfer for a high-quality roll. The stroke is said to "load" the shaft and "access" the shaft's energy at impact, as the stroke keeps the putterhead moving low and straight through the ball. This stroke and shaft require a consistent tempo to repeat the accessing of the shaft through impact, but the overall feedback is pretty clear so the putter in effect trains a stable tempo. That's good! What may be interesting is the insistence upon good technique in order to benefit from the putter design. That's a level above stock putters served up for Joe Golfer by the big name manufacturers. Strand has been having some very good success with his putter on the PGA Tour and has recently been working with Ernie Els and others. LINK

5. Scientific Golfers The One Pendulum Putter. This Swedish design is intended to be used with one hand, while slightly crouched and facing the target. You can strike the ball either with eyes on the target, or while watching the putter swing into impact after aligning, but the designers clearly intend the golfer to face the target during the stroke. This putter is closely akin to sidesaddle putters, made popular by Sam Snead, but is one-handed and designed for a pendulum-like arm action. LINK

6. Technasonic Check-Go Ball Balance Checker and Line Marker. Ever since Bob Charles began checking his balls for roundness and balance in the 1960s, serious putters have wanted to float their golf balls in a salt bath spiked with Jet-Dry, spin them, and see if the same spot keeps stopping on top (thus indicating an imbalance directly below this spot and below the center of the ball). Perfectly balanced balls have no one spot that returns to the top. Balls with an imbalance are either set aside or the top spot is marked so that the ball can be placed with the imbalance aligned in the vertical plane of the roll, to minimize or eliminate its tendency to create a wobble sending the putt off line. (There is always a question of whether imbalance makes a difference in performance, and if so, how much. See the PZ Forum discussion on Tru-Trak Balls.) Now, the Technasonic (Sharper Image) Check-Go assumes all balls have some imbalance and then spins them so that the imbalance is set in an equator, and then this equator is marked with a Sharpie marker. Viola! Any imbalance is taken care of by setting the ball with its line aligned in the vertical plane of the putt. This kills three birds with one stone: locates the imbalance, positions the imbalance in the equator, and marks the equator. A ball balancer and ball marker in one, and without any salt bath or Jet-Dry to worry about. The Check-Go has a small rubber cup to set the ball in, and this cup spins on battery power. No fuss, no mess, quick and simple. If you like to check your balls for balance, or to mark them with a line, this product seems like a nice combination. Review1 Review2 LINK

Click here for a complete listing of Putting-related Exhibitors at the 2002 Show.


2. NEW PZ TIP

Here is the newest PuttingZone tip hot off the griddle: 1. Putt Out Your Eyes

1. Putt Out Your Eyes

Your eye fields are two egg-shaped regions that overlap. If you close your non-dominant eye, you can see the shape defined by the inside of your nose, your eyebrow, the corner of your eye, and your cheek. With a straight-ahead gaze, there is one and only one point where your line of sight penetrates this egg-shape -- about 1" in from the bridge of your nose where your pupil is located and is pointed. If you wore glasses, you could paint a red dot with a marker on the lens where this spot is, and everytime your gaze is straight out you would look thru this spot. Any other gaze direction does not. A horizontal line across both pupils plus this aim spot define the plane of your vision with this gaze. When you place this gaze directly above the ball, the vertical plane of the putt and this plane of vision coincide. This "line" across both pupils then corresponds exactly with the startline of your square putt on the ground, as well as the line your stroke needs to follow to move the sweetspot back and thru the ball.

So what? This means that your ball must start on this line, and you can reference the startline by paying attention to your egg-shaped fields of vision. The line in your rearward eye's field sends the ball out into the bridge of your nose. The line in the forward eye's field sends the ball out into the corner of your eye. This is a lot like cheating!

Try putting with glasses (or sunglasses). Note the aim spot for a straight-ahead gaze in your dominant eye. Position your dominant-eye's glasses lens over the ball so the straight-ahead plane of vision matches the vertical plane of the putt. You can then notice that the top of the glasses frame parallels your startline and that a line from one corner of the frame to the other crosses your pupils and runs right on top of the startline on the ground. You will also be able to notice the nosepiece for the glasses and see the startline of the putt in your rearward eye, and notice the corner of the forward lens and see how the startline sends the ball out to the corner of the glasses.

There is much more that can be done with glasses, both as a training aid and as a way to putt -- especially in turning the head and gaze toward the target. If you envision both fields of vision as the gondolas on a Ferris Wheel, with your neck as the axis, then you turn your head targetward to deliver the two gondolas of your gaze to the target, with one eye vertically above the other. From the target looking back, your glasses top frame line will appear vertical. (See Jim Flick's glasses, below.) Give it a try and work out the details for yourself. I think it ought to really help!

Jim Flick


Next month: Putting Science from Sian Beilock at the Labs at Michigan State University.

Cheers!

Geoff Mangum
The PuttingZone.com
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