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The Baseball Putting Technique

by Taylor Spalding

Baseball putting is a little game you can play on the practice green to help you get a feel for the speed of the greens. The technique can be worked along further to understand the nature of WELTING and the manner of delivering a pure rap on the ball. Employing a consistent golden zip on the ball is the greatest thing you can do to improve your putting! A ball with the right zip on it will have the tendency to work toward the hole, leaving you with more tap-ins and hole outs and less of those shaky four footers.

The technique is very simple and involves the application of a WANING motion from different static points along the arc of the swing path. The technique is named "baseball putting" because it mimics the action of a baseball hitter awaiting the pitch.

Think of the baseball batter standing at the plate in a set position and ready for the pitch. You notice of course that the player does not address the hitting area (the strike zone) with the meat of the bat over home plate, drawing the bat back as the pitch is delivered. He is not playing tee ball. No, he holds the bat back away from the strike zone ready to attack a portion of the hitting area. It then goes without saying that he sincerely hopes the ball will be occupying the portion of the hitting area he is attacking! In golf we may draw the club away at any time. We don't need to set the club away from the hitting area because the ball occupies the hitting area at all times, or nearly at all times. Perhaps the only exception to this is for the sand shot. Yes, golf is a time problem; but because the ball sits motionless, we experience the time problem differently in golf than we do in other reaction sports.

With this technique we will borrow a bit from baseball to discover how to put the proper zip on the ball. The goal here is to impart consistent acceleration to the ball. But be careful! Use this technique as a teaching tool. Glean what you will philosophically from the technique but don't allow yourself to be trapped in the "measured putt" mentality.

Here's the technique:

Go to the practice green and find a fairly flat area with very little break. Place a golf ball on the green to represent a target and walk fifteen or twenty steps to a place on the green from which to putt. Drop a ball, get behind it and get a line on it. You're going to putt that ball to the ball you already placed several steps away.

I always prefer putting toward another ball as opposed to putting at a hole. You get truer rolls and can play little focus games that only you can understand. I'll save that for another article!

You are now going to place another club on the ground to use as a guide. Take another club or The Golden Swing Thing™ out of the bag and line it up parallel to your target line. Place it a few inches outside the ball with half the club or Swing Thing extending in front of the impact line and half the club extending behind the impact line. In other words, if you were to draw a line from your ball to the alignment tool you just put down, it would form the letter "T" with a very long cross bar.

Set up to the ball as if you were going to putt the ball to your target. Don't worry about your bodily form here; it has nothing to do with this exercise. Just ease into grasping the club with a trusting feathery touch. Now draw the putter head back and when you get to about four inches straight behind the ball, STOP and hold that position. Now here comes the important revelation! You are now in a situation similar to that the baseball hitter. You are now in a set position remote from the hitting area. To put a solid rap on the ball you still need to make a swing from that remote position. If you now went after the ball without going back any further, you would most likely put on some sort of dead meandering roll. The club head still needs to enter into a dynamic orbiting state if there is to be a pure sting on the ball. Without a dynamic connection deceleration would be inevitable and any attempt to rescue the mis-timed movement would cause the left side to break down. If however you made a waning motion from that remote position and drew the putter head back another half inch, the dynamic connection would be restored. You would then accelerate through those four inches and put a true roll on the ball.

This technique can be used for any length of putt. The key is that no matter how far you draw the putter head back and stop, the same tiny little swing will restore life to the bodily mass that you have purposely deadened by attending to its static form. What we're doing here is using that gravity movement the pros like to speak about.

If you're having trouble with three footers you may want to bring the putter head back only an inch before you stop. From there what appears to be only a hesitation will result in a one quarter inch (or so) swing and pure acceleration through the original static space between the ball and the putter head.

Many putting gurus will wince at the suggestion of using this technique. "Oh, by leaving a space between the putter head and the ball," they may say, "you will most likely bring the putter to meet the ball along some ill conceived line or stub the putter head into the ground." Well of course that is why you use the club or Swing Thing on the ground as a guide. It helps you to draw the putter head back somewhat squarely. But again it's just a guide. The best putters seem to invoke an intuition that defies what can be explained through logic. Watch touring pro Billy Mayfair putt and you will get my meaning. There are some things that even Dave Pelz cannot explain!

This technique, however, is not just for putting. You may want to try it with a sand or pitching wedge. Try lining up a thirty yard pitch shot with the same technique. Stop the club head about waist high. Hold that position and then make a tiny backswing with an accelerating follow-through. You may find yourself amazed!

The big question now is why does this work and how does it translate to the regular swing?

Well it works because of the isochronism of the pendulum. That is, a pendulum of a given length will traverse various degrees of an arc in the same amount of time. So, provided that we are using the same club, the swing made from a point on the arc remote from the ball will take the same amount of time as the swing that is performed from directly behind the ball! The translation to the regular swing is simple. If the club head is centered and waning a pure rap is likely to occur. Whatever happens in three-dimensional space is relegated to afterthoughts of observation.

Copyright 1998, Golden Barefoot Golf

 

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