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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Little Putting Science

"Green reading is more science than art," according to AimPoint instructor John Hobbins.  He says Mark Sweeney, founder of the AimPoint system, studied data from hundreds of thousands of putts to determine that the only three factors that affect the line of a putt are the speed of the green, the length of the putt, and the angle relative to the slope of the green.

Oft-heard truisms like "putts break toward the water" or "The grain follows the sun" are malarky, according to Hobbins. If you want a real read of your putt's line, he says, walk behind the ball in a semi-circle and let your feet tell you when you reach the low point on the green in that arc. From there to the hole is a straight line and your ball's position relative to it will tell you how much break to play.

Another truism that's not true is that a straight-in uphill putt is the easiest to make. That's not correct, Hobbins says, because you have to hit the hole dead-center to avoid lip outs. The most make-able putt, according to him, is thirty degrees from straight with a break because the entire hole then becomes the target as the ball approaches from the side. Most right-handed players prefer one that breaks right to left.

Here's another short game tip from Hobbins: Don't try to chip in from below the hole off the green. If you miss, you'll end up above the hole with a left-to-right slider most of the time. The better play is to chip to a couple of feet below the hole--thirty degrees off the straight uphill line.

Finally, if you want to work on your stroke, invest $8 in a four-ft. metal ruler from your local hardware store. If you can putt a ball from one end to the other, you're striking the putt with the club's face square to the line. Another good tool to groove your stroke can be made with a pair of #5 knitting needles connected by a length of elastic string.

Hobbins has been a PGA professional for thirty years and a certified AimPoint instructor for five. You can attend his seminars at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan or the Griff in Greenwich. For more info, visit www.greensidegolfacademy.com.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

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