Holding the putter the way we do, has it ever been questioned and for that matter has anything about the set up structure, that is HOLD - STAND - AIM - BALL POSITION, been questioned, investigated and documented.
We have read a lot about the stroke and possible causes of a poor stroke, we have read about the hold and the stand but is it really the way we should hold and stand to a putt. I have been doing some thinking and one of the things that has me transfixed is, I have been unable to come up with a viable conclusion why we hold the putter the way we do. I mean I look at the reverse overlap, that is the pointer finger of the target hand down the grip on the outside of the rear hand fingers, ok great, palms are facing one another which allows the hands and arms their full range of mobility. We have the cross handed, also a great hold which is target hand below rear hand, extend the fingers down the grip is the individuals preference and again palms facing one another and again allowing the full range of mobility in the hands and arms, both recommended Holds for putting, but I can not explain why we would want to hold the putter in such a manner, it seems to me to be contradictory to what it is we are trying to achieve, which is consistently holing putts by making the same movement time and time again. But if we have the full range of mobility available in the joints of the hands and arms during a putting swing then it seems the athlete has to control the amount of movement during such a short swing, this to me seems that we are leaving ourselves susceptible to all sorts of detrimental influences causing us inconsistencies, including the dreaded YIPS.
Let's take a step back. What is the reason why we hold a golf club the way we do? Great question, right? Well we hold the golf club the way we do due to a theory of good mechanics. So what are good mechanics? Well firstly we need to buy into the theory of the load, explode and load theory and of course we need two main factors here to create efficient and potential power out-put which is, stability and mobility, so basically we are creating lower core stability as a means of anchoring the body to a fixed point so we can mobilize the joints allowing the muscles to load up. So now we have a mechanical swing concept. Now lets have a look at what kicks off all these mechanical theories, for that we must go right back to the beginning and ask ourselves one big question. What it is we are trying to achieve as an outcome and in the case of the putting, it is to get the ball into the hole for the least amount of hits, I like to call this the SPECIFIC TASK ORIENTATION. It is the specific task orientation that kicks of all actions. It is from this concept we will derive a mechanical swing theory based on a good scientific approach.
OK cool so now what? Well if we want to hit the ball straight and long with the correct contact then we need potential POWER and to hit the ball consistently STRAIGHT with the correct contact then we need relative path and face combinations and their derivatives. Both these objectives are related, we cannot have one without the other and at the basis of all this is how we load the body efficiently with power, explode into the impact then immediately load back up again as a means to put the breaks on. Lets just agree that we can call this theory the load, explode and load theory and of course if we want to be truly efficient and effective then we will have 2 main factors that contribute to the development of this, STABILITY and MOBILITY, we have talked about this earlier in the manual.
Let’s get to the conclusion. If we want to maximize the efficiency of this theory then we will have to be sure the body parts are working as a team and are able to fully utilize their loading capacity through full range of available mobility, so good physical condition of our athlete would then be a factor to consider, along with sound mechanical theory and the opportunity to learn in a golf authentic environment, then how we set up and mobilize the joints is an important key to loading up the body in a particular order to accumulate and transfer energy, commonly known as a kinetic link.
So what is the significant? And what does this have to do with putting? Well that’s just it. In a full swing we are looking to mobilize joints to create power but is putting asking us to do the same? This is where it gets interesting, I would say YES and NO. YES because we still have to have a load, explode load theory, and NO cause we do not need to load up to our maximum capacity therefore we do not need the full range of available mobility, in fact it would be safe to say we don't load anywhere near to full capacity in which case there are body parts that will not load up at all, or so minimally that we would not noticeably load them up.
Let's go back a step again. In a full golf swing we will load up in a particular order, that is core body arms and hands and of course we explode in the same order, core, arms and hands then load back up again in the same order again after impact, but what about putting? Even though I fully believe we will be mobilizing all joints I do not believe we will be fully utilizing their full available range of mobility at any time during a putt. Now with this in mind then lets take a look at what we don't need. We don't need the full range of available motion from the hands, forearms and upper arm, so why don’t we set them up in a manner that automatically reduces their available range of mobility from the get go by having the hands antagonize one another to create synergy.
How do we do that? To do this then we simply have the mobile parts opposing each other and either in an extended, hinged or rotated position, this is truly easier said than done but before we get into that, why would we do that? Would it not be easier just to control the amount of movement each joint has? Well yes and no and certainly in most circumstances I would agree with that, for example, chipping, especially small chip shots requiring very small movements, in cases like these I would recommend to use this putting technique but there’s an issue, which is the irons are not designed for this type of set up due to the lie angle in the head. But a putter is another story due to its unique design. If we look at the lie angle of a typical wedge we are looking at around 62 deg as opposed to a putter which is around 72deg so you can see setting up to with the hands to high with the iron reduces contact with the sweet spot of the club, rather tricky when controlling distance.
Before we get started on the THE NEW putting procedure let me give you a brief explanation on why we hold the putter the way we do. Just remember though that the hold for the putting is not that different to the hold on a full shot.
What I am trying to achieve is feel and consistency and to do this I believe it is beneficial to reduce the available mobility in the joints of the hands and arms. I am doing this because I believe that we do not need too much movement from the hands, forearms and upper arm during this type or size of swing. Remember what we discussed as far as movement of the club goes in a full swing, we decided that the hands, forearms and upper arm would not engage in their individual movement until the hands have reached and gone past position 1, then the individual movement of the hands, forearms and upper arm would be progressive throughout the swing from position 1 on. Taking this theory into consideration for putting then we would need to consider the function of the hands, forearms and upper arm and ask ourselves whether or not we needed the full range of available motion from these body parts as the putter is being swung through space. If you answered the same as me, which is NO, full range of available motion is unnecessary then we can preset the hands, forearms by having the hands opposing each other, to reduce forearm engagement, or hinging, on the putter and have the hands extended to limit range of movement in the hands, simply created by the weight of the putter, and allow sustainable stability without creating tension, this is SYNERGY. Remember tension is not our friend. Also by placing the palms up then we automatically force the upper arm into the body disengaging any temptation to use the upper arm rotation as a means to move the putter. This in turn encourages the upper body to transport the hands, arms and golf club.
The beautiful thing about this technique is that the hands can still be used as the external driver that creates the chain reaction in the body and by using the load, explode, load theory based on stability and mobility theory then I believe we create a very consistent accurate technique reducing the possibility of any physical glitch caused by but not limited to golf psychological issues. THE YIPS.