A gentlemen recently asked me a question which he wasn’t sure was etiquette related or rules related. The question is about playing order. He wanted to know if it is a rule that the person who won the previous hole goes first, or just etiquette. This is actually a really good question and there are two basic answers, one for stroke play and one for match play.
In stroke play it is common courtesy or etiquette for the person who shot the lowest score on the previous hole to go first. It is not a rule and if it speeds up play for other players to go first, in other words “ready golf,” then do it.
It is also common courtesy for the farthest player from the hole to go first but is also not a rule. In the interest of pace of play, or perhaps getting a tap-in putt out of the way of a longer putt, the closer player can and should go first. In my opinion “honors” is trumped by pace of play. Always go for the faster option!
Match play is a different animal than stroke play with regards to playing order. In match play the person who won the previous hole must go first. Further, the person farther from the hole must go first. If another player goes out of order, his opponent(s) may require that his shot be replayed.
The gentleman who asked the question also asked if a golfer who has the honor can “defer” playing first and make his opponent play first. The answer to this question is no.
This weekend I did some short game and putting practice. I chose to use some golf balls sent in by Sightball, which have six crosshairs on them as seen below.
If you can’t aim with this ball, take up another sport…
The balls themselves are not “tour” level golf balls. They are not ProV1’s or anything like that. I wouldn’t play these in a regular round of golf, but that’s not the point. These are best suited for practice and improving setup.
Using the six aiming markings on the ball one can gather some great setup and swing path information quickly and easily. Recently I did some testing of my putting stroke via the 3Bays GSA Putt app, and noticed that my putter face was open 1 to 2 degrees at impact most of the time. The Sightball confirms that as seen below. Without the marking lines I couldn’t see the alignment issues as clearly.
By looking at the Sightball and the alignment of my putter face and center mark, I can easily tell if my putter is square
Post-impact the ball can give some great feedback as well. The golfer can gain great feedback as to the roll of the ball when aided by Sighball’s markings.
I have no problem with the balls or the product itself. They serve their purpose well. That said, the branding, packaging and Sightball website should be blown up and redone. It needs a total facelift.
At $14.95 for a half dozen, one might consider marking shag balls with his own alignment markings. Those markings will not be as accurate, durable, and sharp as the ones Sightball comes with. I can certainly see an instant alignment benefit by using an alignment ball like Sightball. If you have alignment issues, especially with the putter, these would be very beneficial to improving your setup.
When most amateurs practice golf, they go straight to the driving range and hit driver after driver. On a typical course one hits driver 14 times but could hit a putter 36 or more times. The quickest way to shave strokes off of one’s scores and lower the handicap is to improve putting.
In the day of apps and mobile technology there are some very cool systems on the market which can analyze golf swings and putting strokes, giving the user a wealth of very valuable information which can be used to improve one’s game and ultimately one’s enjoyment. The 3Bays GSA Putt system is one of these systems, focused entirely on the area most amateurs can improve the fastest, putting.
3Bays GSA Putt is a small device which attaches to the end of the putter grip. Inside is an accelerometer which captures movement data and transmits it to a smartphone or tablet via a Bluetooth connection. In the mobile device is a very cool application which takes that putting stroke data and processes it, showing the player all sorts of great statistics. The data can be stored and compared for consistency, and even played back in real time or slow motion to give the golfer the opportunity to see what his/her putting plane or line really is.
The following statistics are tracked by the GSA Putt:
Tempo (including backswing, downswing, total)
Face angle throughout swing
3D swing path (horizontal and vertical swing path shown individually)
Swing path distance
GSA Putt swing info window
Along with the features above, the software allows the user to save swing sessions and view later. “Best swings” can be marked and are used to compare other swings for consistency. In the image below you can see my “best swing” in blue and the current swing in white. Fairly consistent.
GSA Putt stroke comparison
Below is a video showing that latest stroke as shown by the application:
Setting up the unit to work with a smartphone is fairly easy. You put the unit on the end of your putter, download the application from the Google Play Store (Android systems) or the iTunes Store (iOS systems). Then follow some simple instructions to connect or pair-up the GSA Putt with your device.
This unit can be used even at home or the office when practicing putting on the carptet. No need to go to the golf course to work on your putting. The benefits of seeing one’s swing path and all of the individual statistics are fantastic. Many putters try to putt “stright back and straight through” but I do not. I use more of a Ben Crenshaw “swinging gate” stroke where the putter goes back inside the line, closes at impact, and then on the follow through goes back inside the line. You can see that swinging gate in the images and video. The problem with a stroke like that is making sure the putter face is square at impact, and you can see that I can be 1-2 degrees open at impact. That’s a push. By practicing and looking at my stroke data in the GSA Putt application, I can make sure my putts are all starting out on the proper target line.
In my opinion the most important stats tracked are the face angle and the tempo. My tempo looks good. I bring back the putter slow and accelerate through the stroke, thus the longer backswing time of .88 and shorter downswing time of .35. If those numbers were the opposite that would be very bad, as the backswing would be a quick jerk and then the putter would decelerate through the impact area, which is very bad.
Don’t buy a new putter to fix your putting issues or improve your putting. For the same cost of a nice new putter (under $200) you could pick up a 3Bays GSA Putt putting analyzer.
Yesterday I posted the first look of the 3Bays GSA (golf swing analyzer) Pro. It is a small bluetooth device which attaches to a golf club and sends data to a smartphone or tablet running iOS or Android. The smartphone/tablet contains software which analyzes the swing data and produces all sorts of useful graphics and technical data on the swing.
3Bays also has a putting analyzer called the GSA Putt. Like the GSA Pro, the Putt unit logs lots of great putting stroke data and displays it on the smart device (2nd image). Below is the sensor unit attached to my recently cork gripped putter.
3Bays GSA Putt
And a sample screenshot of one analysis screen.
3Bays GSA Putt Analysis
Weather permitting I’ll be working on both my 3Bays GSA Pro review and 3Bays GSA Pro Putt review and posting as soon as possible. Stay tuned.