Dave and Roy at PGA Merchandise Show, Orlando 2002
Dave and Roy at 2001 PGA Merchandise Show  - Photo by Eddie Pelz
Short Game Principles
~ based on Dave Pelz's fine book ~

PUTT LIKE THE PROS


Who is Dave Pelz?
What is the Ultimate Touch®?
 

PUTTING:
RESEARCH | MECHANICS | TOUCH | GAMES | READING GREENS | FARNSWORTH DIAGRAMS

RESEARCH
  1. How important is putting?
    (Fig - page 4) Putting is 43% of the total strokes taken in an average round of golf! It doesn't take a genius to figure out which part of your game is a good candidate for examination if you really want to lower your score.
  2. Is putting a talent you are born with?
    The answer is no in most cases, but neither is it a black art. Good putting can be learned through practicing scientifically proven principles coupled with your natural abilities. WARNING! - The feedback you've been getting on the greens has probably been fooling you... over time good putters become average and bad putters also become average, but in both cases this is due in part to a misunderstanding of what's really going on.
  3. What makes a good putt? Can a machine or a perfect putting device like the True Roller make 'em every time?
    (Fig - page 14) A good putt does not necessarily always go in the hole. Even the True Roller can't make every putt - at least not on the greens :-) The True Roller has better luck putting on a pool table though.
  4. Does the golf ball matter?
  5. Why don't we make more putts?

MECHANICS
  1. What are the 3 fundamentals of the putting stroke? How do they rank in order of importance in relation to making a good putt?
  2. What are some other setup factors that influence your putts?
  3. What compensations do you make in your putting stroke?
    (Fig - page 95) You'll never know until you analyze your stroke. Practice putting combining the three training ideas given in the 3 fundamentals section and fill out the putting evaluation matrix to find out!
  4. Should my putter move in an inside-along-inside path like a miniature version of the full swing?
    (Fig - page 89) This "screen door" model of putting is very common yet can have serious drawbacks because of the compensations that may occur in this type of putting stroke. The simplest, most easily repeatable path your putter can take is like that of a pendulum - that is, your putter moves down an along-along-along path. Also, squaring your shoulders parallel to the target line at setup gives the best chance of achieving a pendulum like putting stroke.
  5. Should I develop a routine for putting?
    (Fig - page 115) Developing a systematic organization of time progressive motions or a routine prepares you both mentally and physically in putting just as it does in the rest of your game.


TOUCH
  1. What is the magic number in putting or what is the optimum speed to roll a putt at the hole?
    (Fig - page 128) The outdated theory of rolling the ball just hard enough so that it "dies" at the hole has long been thought to give putts their best chance of being holed. The problem with this myth is that it requires a perfectly smooth uniform surface to work and doesn't take into consideration the real world challenge of the lumpy doughnut. Extensive testing by Pelz has proved that a putt with enough speed to roll 17 inches past the hole (should it miss) is the magic number that maximizes the number of putts made. The "17 inches past the hole speed" increases the odds of holing a putt up to 68% or by a factor of 4X over the lag method. This magic number of 17 inches is the best way to help overcome the lumpy doughnut effect regardless of the distance or slope of a putt.
  2. Should I try to hole every putt, regardless of the distance?
    As putts begin to fall in the 35 feet range and beyond, the probability of a 3 putt starts to become greater than a 1 putt. To optimize your chances of taking the least total putts for the round, it is wise to try and always 2 putt from this range. The goal in long distance putting is to lag the ball to within a 3 foot radius of the hole, so that the second putt becomes a tap in.
  3. Is trying to emulate a pendulum's motion the best choice for developing a good putting stroke?
    A pendulum putting stroke has many attractive natural attributes and is simplistic. Looking at it from a physics point of view, a pendulum is an excellent model for studying the putting motion. Let's start by examining the following principle:
    A simple pendulum describes harmonic motion and its angular frequency is independent of both amplitude and mass, and is dependent only on its length
    What this translates to in layman's terms is: The benefits of putting like a pendulum are evident in areas of improved distance control, smoothness of stroke, and an increase in confidence.
  4. Should everyone putt using the same tempo?
    Each person needs to identify his putting tempo based upon his own internal clock. As in everyday life, a quick person will tend to have a faster tempo in doing things and this will carry over to putting as well. Conversely, a laid back person will have a naturally slower tempo. An important key to developing distance control in putting is to learn to keep your natural tempo consistent throughout every putt. Remember, natural putting tempos will differ between people, however, once you find your tempo, stick with it to fully develop your putting touch.
  5. How can I put the pendulum theory into practice in developing a putting stroke?
    You can develop the Ultimate Touch® putting stroke by practicing along with a metronome and a color coded yardstick.
  6. How can I practice developing my touch on the greens?
    To help develop great touch in putting, try out these games:
    1. FOUR CORNERS
    2. BETWEEN THE LINES
    3. LAG MAN Pelz lists 5 games in chapter 14 of his book. One of them is called Safety Drawback (pages 140, 141) and it's a great game to have fun with practicing putting against an opponent. In fact, Safety Drawback was first introduced in 1996 by Pelz as a way to help determine who is the best putter in the world at the annual World Putting Championship.


    READING GREENS

    1. What does reading a green mean?
      Green reading is the task of determining how the green itself affects the ball on its journey to the hole. It is part art and part science. Developing skill at the art of green reading comes with time through the accumulation of putting experiences by playing many rounds of golf. The science of green reading takes these experiences and quantifies them with regard to how the ball actually reacts to the speed, slope, and grain of the greens. Of the three determining factors in the science of green reading, speed is arguably the most important because the overwhelming effect it has on both the slope and grain.

    2. How do I read a green? What are the general steps I should take?
      Everyone will develop their own personal method of green reading, but here is an example sequence of steps that consider the fundamental issues:
      • Begin by noticing the general lay of the land as you approach the green. Imagine a huge bucket of water being poured near the hole and watch the direction of the water run off in your mind's eye.
      • Once on the green, crouch down and look from behind your ball towards the hole. Try to determine the amount of speed required to get the ball to the hole, taking into account whether the putt is uphill/downhill. Also, begin to formulate how much the ball will break left/right of the hole based upon that speed.
      • Next, mentally make note of the distance of the putt by stepping off a line from your ball to the hole. Pay attention to the texture of the grass and its grain as you go and be careful not to step on anyone's line.
      • Continue walking on a beyond the hole a couple of yards, then turn around and check the slope of the green as you look back towards your ball from behind the hole. This is where you fine tune the amount of break you want to play. The ball will be traveling at its slowest speed at this point and is usually therefore most affected by the speed, slope and grain nearer to the hole.
      • Walk back to your ball, take another quick look at your target to solidify the line, go through your practice preview strokes as a distance check warm-up, and then all that remains is to putt the ball.

      This entire process should only take about 30 seconds for most putts.

    3. Is there an easy way to talk about how much break to play in a putt?
      One convention that can be used to describe how much break to play is a measurement system based on the cup size itself - this system can further be divided into 1/2 cup increments. For example, on a 20 foot putt that breaks slightly right, you might say you're aiming 1/2 cup to the left to compensate for the break. If the right break is really severe, you may have to aim as much as, say, 6 & 1/2 cups to the left - maybe even more.

    4. Where should I really aim?
      A putt is rarely aimed directly dead center at the hole. This is because there is almost always a left or right break (however slight it may be) in the green. It is good idea to shift the center of the cup using the measurement system (detailed above) left or right of the hole to a new aim location. On short length putts, it is good rule of thumb to add a little more speed to the putt so that you can aim inside the hole (unless there is a severe slope left/right/downhill.)

    5. What is the Farnsworth method?
      Farnsworth is a Pelz proponent and a leading visualization expert in the world of golf. He claims that the need to identify the correct speed as it relates to the path in putting cannot be overstated. This idea coupled with a vivid preview in your mind of how the ball will travel on its way to the hole is the formula for success. In his view, you must be able to trace a clear path with your eyes across the green to the hole at the speed the ball will be rolling at in order to have the best chance of getting the ball to go in the hole. He uses an x/y coordinate system to shift the focus from the actual hole to a secondary projected target hole. The projected target hole is selected based upon the speed, slope, and grain of the green and becomes the new aiming spot. Once the projected target hole is correctly identified, all putts become straight putts and putts stroked at the proper speed down the line at this projected hole will finish very near (if not in) the actual hole - see Farnsworth Diagrams

    6. What should I be thinking of as I am ready to stroke the putt?
      At this point, you've aimed your putter at the projected target hole based upon the calculations you've made regarding speed, slope, and grain. You've taken a couple of practice strokes that preview the stroke needed to get the ball to roll the proper distance. The only thing left to do is to clear your mind of mechanical thoughts, imagine the projected target hole as you look at the ball, and pull the trigger. You must believe in your preparation and plan of attack as this breeds confidence. That's what a lot of putting really boils down to - confidence that you can stroke the little white ball to give it a good chance of going into the hole. And if it doesn't go in, you can still walk away knowing that you put your best read and stroke on the ball. Remember, not all of them go in because "golf is not a game of the perfect."