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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Putt With Your Feet and Fingers?

You should train your feet, not your eyes, if you want to make more putts, according to AimPoint instructor John Hobbins.  The three-decade PGA professional says your feet may well be the key to rolling better putts because your eyes can deceive you.

There are just too many misleading signals on most greens to allow an accurate read using your eyes only. For example, "Green shapers will often tilt the perimeter of the green one direction while much of the rest of it can go the other way," Hobbins says.  Your eye is drawn to the line formed by the edge of the apron, sometimes without your realizing it, which easily leads to mis-reads. For a better idea of how much your putt breaks, Hobbins suggests walking to the midpoint between your ball and the cup, then turning until your feet tell you you are pointed straight uphill. That will give you a truer idea of the break, especially on greens with subtle slopes.

The AimPoint system used by professionals like Adam Scott and Stacy Lewis starts with this technique, then applies some advanced calculations factoring in the green's Stimpmeter reading. The pros and/or their caddies will measure the breaks for expected hole locations before a tournament begins to gather the necessary data to use the AimPoint system in the competition.

Those of us who don't play golf for a living can use a related, simpler method like Scott did winning the Colonial--AimPoint Express.  Again, start by standing at the midpoint between ball and hole, only keep your feet parallel to the line. With practice, your feet will tell you which direction the green slants and by how many degrees. Most slant only one or two degrees, Hobbins says, although some very extreme contours may be three or four.

Keeping your estimate of the slope in mind, go back to a point three or four feet behind your ball. Extend your arm and hold up the same number of fingers as the degree of slant. Using your dominant eye, put one edge of your finger(s) in line with the hole with the other edge toward the uphill side of the line. That's the aim point for your putt.  It may sound complicated in writing, but it takes about a minute to figure it out in practice.

The AimPoint Express method may sound crazy and look crazier, but it's remarkably accurate. The most important step is learning what a degree of slope feels like under your feet. As you might expect, this takes a little practice.

It also helps to have some expert coaching, which is where Hobbins comes in. He's got the tools, knowledge, and experience to guide you along the path to more one putts. To learn where and when you can experience one of Hobbins' clincis, 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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