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Probable Golf Instruction

Thanks for supporting Probable Golf Instruction. This is the third of my series on the shortgame; from putting to chipping to wedge play. If you have any specific questions related to the topic that you'd like answered, join my PGI Member Select Club. I'll answer all your golf questions related to your own, unique golf game in a prompt, thorough fashion. I'm just an email away at golfexpert@probablegolfinstruction.com.

June PGI Contest

Congratulations to James Andler of Seattle, WA, who won the May contest and a copy of the book, Swing Machine Golf, a $70 value. If you'd still like a copy, you can purchase one from my site at a $10 discount, and you'll be entered into June's contest for a thousand Stinger Tees, a $50 value. Or download any of my PGI Golf Tips or Reports. Buy a copy of the CD, Hit Down Dammit! or a supply of Stinger Tees.

After you make a purchase, just email me a message at probablegolf@yahoo.ca with the subject heading, "PGI Member." You need to be a newsletter subscriber to qualify.

You owe it to your game to make the best of your abilities; become " Master of Your Own Game". Stand out and improve, without hitting any balls!!

Here's to a long lasting life of great golf!

My latest study is finished. See some of the details of the reports HERE.

A Brief Message      June 14/04

  • Ken here from Probable Golf Instruction. In my last newsletter, I explained how to accurately track your putting performance. In a followup email I provided free putting software that would do the calculations for you. Review the newsletter here.
  • In this issue, I'll explain the importance of alignment in putting and teach you how to read putts more successfully by analyzing the contours of the green and by Plumb Bobbing.
  • If you recall my series on Distance & Technology, I mentioned how mishits (from center of club face) result in less distance. High handicappers have far more mishits than low handicappers.
    How close from the center of the club face do you hit it? You'd be surprised.
    I recently acquired some adhesive, leather club face patches that are used to show you your mishits. They're called CaddyPatch Impressions. Take a look at them here.
  • Have you played any matches yet? Do you find you are at a real disadvantage on some holes because you don't get a shot or have to give away a shot? It could be your holes' difficulty rankings do no reflect reality of how golfers play them. Find out your course's true hole rankings here.
The Short Game Part 3: Putting Alignment & Reading

Read other Parts from the Technology & Distance series and Short Game series here, Archives.

If you'd like one on one explanations about the topic, sign up for the PGI Member Select Club and I'll answer all your questions in a prompt, thorough fashion. Now on to this week's topic.

III. How many putts do you miss due to mis-reading? due to mis-alignment?

     Statistically, putting is the most important aspect of the game. The lower your handicap, the more important your putting is to your score. The most important aspects of putting are the ability to reading the break in a green and alignment. If you think you're aligned properly along the correct line and you're not, you'll most likely miss the putt and have incorrect feedback (think there is something wrong with your stroke).

     Take the analogy of shooting with a rifle. If the sight of the rifle is mis-aligned, it will be very difficult to hit your target without somehow compensating. For example, let's say the sight is aligned so that the rifle is aimed left of the target. If you have good aiming mechanics, you'll hit your shots left of the target. You'll need to start aiming to the right or adjusting your mechanics to hit hit the target.

      In putting, if you aim too far left or right of the correct line with good putting mechanics, you'll miss the putt. After a number of misses, your body will begin to adjust the stroke to get the ball on line. Your mechanics will change without you really knowing about it.

     All golfers mis-align their putts. All golfers under-read their putts. This is the major reason for the low one-putt statistics (a graph will open in a new window) on longer putts. I've written an article on this subject where I reference some studies done. View it here.

     How do you align properly? I was surfing the net and found some very good articles that will help you align properly. One uses floor tiles as a guide. Another is Putting Alignment is Your Best Friend

There are a number of putting aids that you can purchase to help your alignment and your stroke as well.

     I would suggest you buy a putter that helps you with your alignment. There are a lot of different models out there. You want one that feels good, is well balanced and helps you align better. Below are pictures of two, the Odyssey and the Scotty Cameron.

Putters like these assist the golfer in aligning correctly by having a visual line that the golfer can line up with the ball and the hole.

     Once one is able to align the putter more successfully, the next important factor is to know what line to use. One requires the ability to read the amount of break in the putt. All golfers tend to under-read the amount of break, even professionals. The craft of reading greens is both an art and a science.

     Dave Pelz says it very well in his book, The Putting Bible: " If you don't listen up and pay attention concerning this problem ..", (putting alignment), " .. improving the other 14 building blocks of putting discussed is this book won't do you much good."

     I have a 2 handicap. I am considered to be a very good putter by others at my club. I credit much of my putting success to my ability in reading greens correctly. I rarely under-read putts, although I still have my share of hitting off my intended line. I use the Plumb Bob method, although I have quantified it.

     Many very good golfers and instructors will argue that one can't determine the amount of break with a plumb bob, only which way the putt breaks (others will even argue that you can't tell that either). I have quanitified the amount of break from a plumb bob read by using physics and math to model how a putt rolls on a sloped green.

     The key to good plumbing is ensuring that your eye (most use their dominant eye), the ball and the hole are on the same, straight line. This is very difficult to do accurately in one attempt. You can easily move your head right or left and get totally different readings. I usually plumb a putt 2 or 3 times.

     The amount of break depends on the plumb read, the length of the putt and the speed of the putt (slow, medium or fast greens). I used my physics/math model to develop a matrix that tells how much a putt will break depending on the above.

     For instance, if the plumb reads 2 inches right of the hole, that doesn't mean that one should aim 2 inches right of the hole to allow for a right to left break. One must aim much farther right. My matrix will tell you how much. Take a look at part of my matrix here.

     I'm not advocating my plumb method as the sole technique of reading greens. you also need to observe the contours of the green. My matrix only applies accurately to putts where the slope is constant. Sometimes, we have putts that start out on a steep slope and then end on a less steep slope, and vice versa. And, of course, you need to become an accurate plumber so apply it successfully.

     Most golfers that I play with (and most golfers in general) do not read greens well. There is a lot of guessing. I'm advocating a method that everyone can learn and become proficient. As I said at the beginning of this article, reading greens is art and science. If you just don't have a lot of talent in art, then apply the science.

Some other articles on plumbing from other sites:

Plumb Bob by Justin Leonard           

Golf Tips Magazine - How to plumb putts         Plumbing Fallacies

     Next time, I'll provide you with even more great tips dealing with how to read putts. Remember, putting is the most important part of the game. To putt well, one must first be able to read the correct line for a putt and then align properly.

Purchase my Longest Golf Ball Report (over 280 sold so far) in which I statistically analyze distances of over 70 different golf balls with differing constructions. The balls were hit using a mechanical hitting machine.

Play with my Driver Distance Calculator. You can input such variables as loft and clubhead speed to determine the optimum loft. I'll be adding to it soon so that you can input different golf ball parameters such as speed and spin.


A list of resources that have been used to produce this newsletter can be found on my website here.

The next newsletter's topic will be on reading putts (break and distance). If you have any questions ahead of time, send me an email.

The focus of my site is to utilize science and math to lower your score. New technology is one way to achieve this, but to be honest, the technology is one small piece of the puzzle.

To actually improve significantly, we all need to:

1. Improve our swings using CD Interactive, Hit Down Dammit!

2. Learn how to swing simpler like the Iron Byron with the great coffee table book, Swing Machine Golf!

3. Improve our physical fitness and strength.
The Golf Trainer Power Performance Programô

4. Improve our mental games. Golf Mind Software

5. Improve our Probable Golf games. Learn how to make better choices on the course through knowing how shot patterns and reading the elements and course better.

Click on the links above to take a look at ways that I personally use myself and recommend you try as well.

Hope I provided some useful ways for to become better prepared for you best golf season ever.

Ken Tannar


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