PGA player putting practices

6/7/12  I have watched PGA players practice putting for hundreds of hours over the last 10 years.  This is a result of my standing on the practice green available to players to use the SAM Putt Lab ultrasound measuring of 28 factors critical to the technique of putting.  Here is what I have seen.

As you might expect there is a wide variety of approaches.  The common “tools” used for training are the Pelz platform with 2 metal balls sitting at end that move if putt is off track.  The other is the suspended elastic white line above the intended roll path.  Some use a “mirror” device on the ground to establish their eyes are over the ball.

The common practice technique is to “circle” a hole at 5-10 distances with series of golf tees and go round and round hitting putts to the hole.  Some players like to place tees or club shafts in a line so the putter head will not move out of the intended path during the stroke.

The things that do not make sense to me is the common practice of standing in one position and hitting putt after putt while pulling each successive ball into position to hit.  It often looks like reloading a revolver.   The SAM Putt Lab shows evidence that this practice build tension in the putting stroke dynamics.  The tension is due to the fatigue of many hits and the frozen body position.  They are not practicing their shot routine but practicing tension which will carry over to play.  It would make more sense to step back between each shot and follow the anticipated game routine.

They often practice long breaking putts of considerable magnitude.  The chances of making this putt is less than 5%.  I do not know what they learn from this, unless it is willingness to accept defeat.  Since as Pelz has established, “all putts are straight”, they would be better off practicing shorter straight putts that are “make able”.

They rarely use any device to measure technique other than results of did they make it or not.  Although making it is bottom line, during practice the stroke pattern to make a putt may vary greatly, yet the pattern could be very different.  For instance, the putter path could cut across the ball with the face open and the ball go in.  The next putt the putter path could be straight and the ball go in or not.  Good golf is based upon consistency and this is not established as far as I can see by this common method of practice.

The funniest thing is PGA players going from putter company to company picking up a variety of putters.  They swing once and put down.  The hit one and reject.  It appears to be the ritual of searching for the magic bullet.  The very best players have one putter for years, establishing it is the Indian and not the arrow than makes for success.