'Mutt enjoys high tech putting lesson' - Ivan Morris

Ivan Morris

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Ivan Morris

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Limerick Leader golf columnist Ivan Morris

Ivan Morris - The voice of Limerick Golf

MUTT: I went to see Wayne O'Callaghan in Ballincollig, County Cork for a Capto, high tech, computerised, putting lesson last week and got the fright of my life. It is a miracle I ever holed a putt!

Jeff: You are as mad as a hatter! I've always regarded you as a most reliable putter who is prone to the occasional bout of otherworldly brilliance when you happen to have the right attitude on a particular day.

Aren't you always telling me that putting is more art than science and the less one thinks about one's technique the better?

To be honest, I thought you'd have more sense than becoming engrossed in computer science where putting is concerned.

Mutt: Putting is too important to be left to chance and it doesn't matter how good (or bad) a golfer you are, putting accounts for 43 percent of total strokes in every round of golf played. Lowering this percentage must be beneficial.

Jeff: I'm not arguing about that. I just don't believe in thinking too much about it and I thought neither did you! Not everyone can hit the ball 250-yards+ off the tee but everyone can putt if they have a mind to.

Being the best driver you can be won't achieve as much for your scores as being the best putter you can be. The shortest hitter in the club can be a match for the longest hitter if he takes only one putt to hole out on every green.

Mutt: So, are you going to keep on lecturing me about what you think or, are you not interested in what I learnt in Wayne O'Callaghan's Putting Studio?

Jeff: Off you go! I'm all ears.

Mutt: You are right about attitude. I used to be a great match play putter because I concentrated much better in that format. In stroke play, I was never as good and the statistics I have kept for many years prove that my one-putt strike rate has deteriorated noticeably.

Jeff: Old age?

Mutt: I don't accept that. I believe I can still improve. With the assistance of his Capto technology, Wayne measured the loft and lies on the three putters I brought with me and studied the way I addressed my putts.

To my astonishment, none of them suited me. They were all 'too upright' and because I positioned my hands too far forward at address my shaft was leaning to the left presenting a 'negative loft' to the ball at impact that produced a 'skid' instead of a smooth roll.

All putts skid at the beginning of their roll but the less the better. The ideal putter swing is like a pendulum with the ball contacted at the bottom of the arc and the easiest way to do it is start with the shaft perpendicular.

The correct loft at impact is plus 2-degrees; mine was minus 4! It doesn't matter how perfect the putter's path if the face is 'wrong' at the moment of truth! Adjusting my address position (not a comfortable or easy thing to do) brought noticeable improvement straightaway.

Jeff: What about aim? Surely, aim is the most important thing? If you don’t aim correctly, you have no chance. Does the computer check that?

Mutt: Of course it does! Plus measuring that you have kept your stroke “on-line” through the impact zone. Putts roll off the face in the same direction your putter head is facing at impact.

Mine was facing into the ground as if I was hitting an iron shot! Face angles are more important than path. If the swing path is perfect but the putter face is not aiming properly, and at the right angle, the results will never be good.

Jeff: You are telling me that a computer is capable of measuring all of this? Surely, it all depends on how skilled the golfer is in repeating the right impact patterns?  

Mutt: Correct! To be better, all I have to do is practice my new set up and address position until it becomes instinctive and do not have to think about it because my swing path is well within the correct parameters.

I like the idea that the machine doesn't teach a method per se. It merely measures fundamentals.

Jeff: What about speed? Proper speed is so important in putting. Does Capto say anything about speed?

Mutt: Proper speed comes from developing 'touch' via swing rhythm. The machine measures the length and consistency of individual strokes. A putt that finishes short is never holed but a putt that is hit sufficiently hard to finish one foot past always has a chance.

To be a great putter you don’t need a perfect stroke, but you can’t do any of the important things badly (i.e. aiming and striking)

You must make the ball start off on the right line with a reduced skid. Hard work can turn a weak putter into a good one or an already good one into a great one.

Everyone is capable of improving if they focus on good fundamentals and practice them often. My Capto lesson has been most beneficial and my putting HAS improved! Something I had suspected but was unable to measure was confirmed.

Whether this lesson works in the long run remains to be seen but the prospects are good! Nor, do I see any downsides.

Success is wholly dependent on the application and attitude of the golfer himself. The machine just gives you feedback you cannot see. You can’t argue with physics and science!