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The full swing is a circular motion, like a Ferris Wheel. But unlike a Ferris Wheel, the full swing is slanted at an angle to accommodate the spine angle established at address and the lie angle of the club. Anyone can grasp these facts. What most people miss is that the putting stroke is the exact same motion, rooted in the laws of motion unlocked by Isaac Newton more than 400 years ago that also govern the full swing. Straight-back-and-through? It’s a putting myth that has caused heartbreak and high scores for millions of golfers.
Blame the laws of pendulous movement, formulated by Galileo in the early 1600s, which have been universally accepted as the most accurate way to describe a solid stroke. Yes, the putter swings like a pendulum, but not vertically like the one inside a grandfather clock. Like the tilted Ferris Wheel, the putting pendulum is angled. And since its length (or arm) is fixed, it naturally creates an arc, not a straight-back-and-through motion.
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With these facts in mind, making a putting stroke should be easy, at least from a physiological perspective. We all know better. Putting, for some, is in fact the most challenging aspect of the game. Consider the requirements:
To make things even more difficult, every putt is different, and you only have one club to deal with all of the variables. No wonder there’s less than a 10 percent chance that even a Tour pro will sink a 25-footer. Putting is simple and complex at the same time in severe amounts.
Rote practice won’t necessarily help. Training your brain will. As you know, the brain controls all thoughts and actions. These thoughts and actions are based on the sensory information gathered and stored in the brain’s memory bank. In other words, actions are structured by the input we receive and the decisions we make. That’s what determines the outcome of our actions, and the subsequent feedback determines future decisions.
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Should you provide the brain with too much information, it’ll short-circuit, and the quality of your decisions—present and future—will be impaired. The brain can only process one thought at a time—you cannot think of your wife and girlfriend at the same time. As such, it’s nearly impossible to simultaneously control distance and direction, at least without simple yet clear strategies. That’s why it’s critical to break down the complexities of putting into sensible and easy-to-repeat steps and practice them one at a time. The more knowledge and understanding you have of these principals, the easier the task becomes.
I can explain these principals. I cannot understand them for you, but that’s my challenge as your teacher. I’m ready for the challenge.
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