During the last couple of practice sessions on the putting green I tried the technique Jordan Spieth sometimes uses on shorter putts. He will actually look at the hole and execute his putting stroke. He’s not looking at his golf ball or having his head/eyes down in the stroke. Conceptually it is not that odd. Think about foul-shooting in basketball. The shooter is looking at the basket, not the ball. Well maybe anyone but Shaquille O’Neal. No idea what he was ever looking at.
It was weird trying this technique. I made the first one. It felt strange and was very odd to see the hole, then have the ball appear in my field of vision, let alone being on the proper line and then going into the hole.
I’d say using this technique I was making a large percentage of the putts in short range. I was surprised to make as many as I did without even looking at the ball. I suppose that means my stroke is fairly pure and consistent, even when I’m not looking at the ball.
Will I put this in play? Nope. I make a lot of putts and I’m very confident in my putting. No need to mess with something that isn’t broken.
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 had a chance to chat with golf great Dave Stockton for a while. Stockton racked up 10 PGA Tour wins, including TWO PGA Championships and two 2nd place finishes at the Masters. I’d met Dave in 1997 when the then “Senior Tour” was in town. I followed him around, watched him shoot a 63 on a tough Jack Nicklaus course and win the tournament. Aside from Ben Crenshaw, Dave Stockton is known as one of the best putters of all time. My putting stroke is a close model to Dave’s, and most of my opponents would prefer I do something else.
The discussion, paraphrased:
Me: Hey Dave how are you? We met up in Park City when the Senior Tour played up there years ago.
Stockton: Yes. I wish we still played up there. I really enjoyed it. I used to love to play up there and then go fishing up in that area.
Me: I wish you still played up there too. We don’t get much high level professional golf here in Utah. I hear you are injured.
Stockton: Yes. I tore my rotator cuff. I had rotator cuff surgery a couple of weeks ago.
Me: Ouch. That must have hurt. How long will you be out for?
Stockton: I’m surprised to say I’m not feeling any pain right now. I should be back in about five weeks.
Me: I want to tell you how much I enjoy your putting style. I’ve modeled a lot of my putting after you.
Stockton: Thanks! More and more people are modeling their style after mine these days.
Me: So you’re here at this golf tournament (Champions Challenge at Thanksgiving Point, Utah) but you obviously aren’t playing. Why are you here?
Stockton: I’m following my sons around. They’re playing in the tournament.
Me: Ah! Well I wish your boys luck.
Stockton: Thanks. Nice talking to you.
Dave Stockton – Putt To Win
Speaking of Dave Stockton’s putting, he has a book called “Putt To Win.” Click here or on the image in this piece to pick up a copy.