Putting and short game lessons in the quest to achieve a handicap of 18

GG26

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Long post coming up, but may be interest to some of you in respect of the lessons I have been taking.

I joined a club in the summer of 2015 having only played the odd round or two with friends in the past. Obtained an initial handicap of 26 and at the end of each year since have managed to reduce my handicap by one and it now stands at 22. I've been frustrated at the lack of progress and having played with some single figure players in competitions realise that the main thing holding me back is the short game.

At the RickG memorial day at Coventry last summer there was an auction for a two hour putting lesson with Andy Gorman, who coaches a number of pros on tour and I put in a bid and won for just over a third of his usual charges. My putting had gone from bad to worse over last summer and I felt that two hours with a good coach could at least put me on the path to a more robust putting technique. It was early October before I managed to get over to Andy's putting studio which is based at Wishaw Golf Club in the West Midlands (not far from the Belfry). What I hadn't realised was that the lesson was an initial two hour consultation and that the only putting I actually did was hitting seven ten foot putts, which were analysed by the SAM measurement device. This measures 41 different aspects of your putting stroke. The rest of the session was spent analysing the data and looking at some basic aspects what needed working on. My alignment was good, timing a stroke wasn't too bad, but everything else was poor which came as no surprise to me.

What Andy picked up on fairly quickly was that he guessed correctly that I was wearing varifocals and explained that these would hinder any progress (he had seen a the putting of a member of his family go to pieces once they started wearing them). He also noted that my posture was too hunched over the ball at address, due to being sat at a desk at work, and standing taller would help (yes I know that that would be difficult for me!!). He advised that 90% of his pupils start with putters that are too short for them and for the majority of men the putter should be at least 35". Due to my height my 34" putter was in fact ok lengthwise.

The most significant point that he picked up in that first lesson was that I tended to putt using my hands and that to putt well this should be through a rotation of the shoulders. Other points picked up using the SAM device was that my backswing was long and inconsistent and the putter was way too open when I took it away. Also, and apparently unusual, was that I lifted the putter too high on the takeaway.

Andy came across as very knowledgeable and he clearly has some strong views about the way putters are made. At the end of the session I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for a series of lessons as this could give me a better technique which could knock a few shots off of my handicap. The alternative of spending that money on new clubs or equipment was not going to improve my scoring. I went for the more expensive package as that also includes video input, which is saved to your personal area of a coaching app that is available to you to go back to at any time in the future. To date this his been a mixture of pre-made videos made by Andy on certain areas we were working on and videos of me putting with commentary as to what we were trying to achieve.

I went back at the end of October for lesson two, where we worked on trying not to lift the putter too high on the takeway and tempo. We also looked at the lie angle of my putter. Most stock putters are 70 degrees, but for someone of my height a lie angle of 66-67 degrees would be more suitable. Andy tried bending my putter in his vice but the medal was too springy and kept going back to 70 degrees, although he did eventually get it to 69. Having looked at some of the range he had, we ordered a new SeeMore putter set to 66 degrees, which arrived just four days later.

In the next lesson at the end of November we worked on distance control for long putts and found that my inconsistency was down to moving my knees during the stroke as if I was hitting a wedge shot. By keeping my legs still during the stroke, the distance control improved somewhat.

Had my most recent lesson a few days ago and and spent the second half of it looking at my wedge play from 50 yards. My miss tends to be a pull to the left and counter to what I expected he suggested opening up my stance and having the wedge open at address. I've only used this once on the course so far and the pitch went straight at the pin. It will be interesting to see if this does work for me on a consistent basis.

Unfortunately, with the recent wet weather I've not had much chance to try the putting out on the course. Initial impressions are that I am more confident on shorter putts and have better distance control. However, I still need to hole out better from 10ft and less.

As it says in the title my aim is to get to 18 by the end of the season and I'll update progress and how the lessons are working.
 

Crow

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Sounds great Mike, I'm sure you'll get below 18 this year now you're getting good instruction on what you say is the weakest part of your game.
What model SeeMore did you get?

Keep us updated on the progress!
 

Imurg

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Nice one Mike...
Did he say why wearing Varifocals doesn't help?
I've been wearing them 10+ years and, if anything, my putting has improved....:unsure:
Keep up the work but dont neglect the long game(y)
 

inc0gnito

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Interesting read. I’ve picked up a few of Andy Gorams tips from YouTube and they’ve helped somewhat. Will be interesting to see if you make it to 18.

I’ve a high handicap too and my goal is <20 handicap By end of season. Though I’m not taking lessons other than the three I prepaid for almost a year ago I’ve yet to take!

I play on a par 74 very wet parkland municipal with high risk of ball loss on most holes. So my aims are to improve all round swing (following rotary swing method for this), become more consistent with driver, and like you, improve short game. I’ve nowhere to practice apart from the range but it’ll be a an interesting comparison to see if we both reach our goals.
 

HomerJSimpson

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Met Andy last summer at the British par 3 champs at Nailcote Hall. Very friendly guy and a massive database of knowledge even watching the celebs amateurs and myself putting without a SAM lab or any data. I thought he specialised in putting and didn't know he did short game as well. I am sure the OP is going to get massive help and will have no problem getting to 18 with a solid short game
 

GG26

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Nice one Mike...
Did he say why wearing Varifocals doesn't help?
I've been wearing them 10+ years and, if anything, my putting has improved....:unsure:
Keep up the work but dont neglect the long game(y)
Ian, I suspect that its because varifocals may distort the aiming of the putt and I noticed it when I forgot to take my single vision glasses when I played today. Of course, it may be that this put doubts in my mind when lining up putts, but I am fairly sure that it does make some difference. Coincidentally, my putting did deteriorate last summer when I stopped wearing single vison glasses for golf.
 

davemc1

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We have a swash putting place up here that I’ve often thought of going. I have to be honest tho, this post as put me right off (more lessons, new putter needed) Why is it never a quick fix with these coaches? ?

I do have to say, I’m well jealous, best of luck! ??
 

Jigger

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Don’t get me wrong. I’m very much a visual putter who has tried all sorts who has always come back to no lines on a ball and visualising the line of the ball. This for me personally is much more effective but I am interested in getting fitted for a putter as I agree with all that.

To my point. I was talking to a mate who said a few people at his course had did some rather intensive aim point work and are holing putts from everywhere. I asked the question of has it really helped or is it a fact that they are actually just putting in the hours of practice.

If you practice enough I’m sure you’ll come down but the other key for me is tee shot in play and make sure you hit the green by not playing overly cute shots over safe ones.

I came across a you tube video with this practice schedule quite a while back. Might be worth a look.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1rqzVIDhVB9FkvpccIAjYcCdZLDiyYMhou1IMbyPIvWQ/htmlview#
 

Jigger

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We have a swash putting place up here that I’ve often thought of going. I have to be honest tho, this post as put me right off (more lessons, new putter needed) Why is it never a quick fix with these coaches? ?

I do have to say, I’m well jealous, best of luck! ??

is that a serious question?
 

GG26

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Sounds great Mike, I'm sure you'll get below 18 this year now you're getting good instruction on what you say is the weakest part of your game.
What model SeeMore did you get?

Keep us updated on the progress!
Nick, it’s the S2 model.
 

HomerJSimpson

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Don’t get me wrong. I’m very much a visual putter who has tried all sorts who has always come back to no lines on a ball and visualising the line of the ball. This for me personally is much more effective but I am interested in getting fitted for a putter as I agree with all that.

To my point. I was talking to a mate who said a few people at his course had did some rather intensive aim point work and are holing putts from everywhere. I asked the question of has it really helped or is it a fact that they are actually just putting in the hours of practice.

If you practice enough I’m sure you’ll come down but the other key for me is tee shot in play and make sure you hit the green by not playing overly cute shots over safe ones.

I came across a you tube video with this practice schedule quite a while back. Might be worth a look.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1rqzVIDhVB9FkvpccIAjYcCdZLDiyYMhou1IMbyPIvWQ/htmlview#

I tend to work on getting the ball starting on line with the use of my Visio gates. Tees would suffice but they were a present. I tend to focus on the 2-6 feet range as I feel generally my distance control isn't too bad but if I can make the crucial short putts it really helps. One of my favourite training aids is the hole reducer https://www.golfswingsystems.co.uk/product/no-3-putt-cup-reducer/ Tend to use the outer ring more than with the smallest ring inserted but after trying to make 3 footers to a reduced target and taking the aid out after it does make the hole look massive and does give me confidence
 

Jigger

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I tend to work on getting the ball starting on line with the use of my Visio gates. Tees would suffice but they were a present. I tend to focus on the 2-6 feet range as I feel generally my distance control isn't too bad but if I can make the crucial short putts it really helps. One of my favourite training aids is the hole reducer https://www.golfswingsystems.co.uk/product/no-3-putt-cup-reducer/ Tend to use the outer ring more than with the smallest ring inserted but after trying to make 3 footers to a reduced target and taking the aid out after it does make the hole look massive and does give me confidence
Just out of interest. How many times have you used that and found the cup not deep enough?
 

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It is interesting reading the putter training, my son has been having lessons for 3 years now, he has just turned 13. He plays off 18. Anyways the club he has lessons at (120 juniors currently) really work on a shorter putter. They have it well cut down, get you well over the ball, head still, good alignment and minimum moving parts. I had some lessons there and they encouraged me to go to a 32" putter and wow, my putting is strong and a better part of my game, certainly more confidence, with the longer putter I had a tendency to lean back and come through open.

It just shows whatever works for you rather than a one for all.
 

GG26

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Interesting and it shows that putting is a very personal thing.
My coach is adamant that you need to stand taller. The reason is to free the arms so that you can putt using shoulder turn and not your hands.
 

RangeMonkey

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Interesting and it shows that putting is a very personal thing.
My coach is adamant that you need to stand taller. The reason is to free the arms so that you can putt using shoulder turn and not your hands.

That sounds contradictory. If you stand taller, your arms will hang closer to your body, surely, and will be less free to be turned by the shoulders?
 
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