By Neal Maidment
Depending on your handicap, putting likely makes up around 40% of your average round – maybe even more if you’re having a bad day on the greens.
Any elite player will tell you that the importance of refining the putting stroke cannot be overstated. So, why do so few golfers really put in the hard yards to improve their skills on the proverbial dancefloor?
According to Michael Kunman, PGA Professional and Director of Perth Golf Centre (PGC), located at The Western Australian Golf Club in Yokine, it’s because practising putting is inherently less satisfying than many other aspects of the game.
“Most golfers don’t putt very well, and while they recognise they need to improve their technique, putting is often the least gratifying part of game improvement,” Kunman says.
“If you compare putting to the feeling of bombing drives on the range, it often feels boring and it’s definitely not too appealing to be out on the putting green on a wet, winter afternoon.
“However, when you consider the large proportion of a round that is spent putting, increasing the amount of time honing your putting technique is always going to be helpful in the long term.”
If you’re a fair-weather practice putter yourself, take heart. The state-of-the-art Perth Golf Centre Putting Studio can swiftly help you gain a better understanding of your stroke and identify areas for improvement – all while keeping the sun or rain off your head.
Putting at the cutting edge
PGC’s indoor Putting Studio utilises Quintic Ball Roll technology, with a high-speed camera that tracks the putter and golf ball throughout the impact zone. The system automatically measures over 45 parameters regarding the putter and ball, both graphically and numerically, and displays the data instantly for immediate analysis, review and intervention.
“All it takes is 6-12 putts using the Quintic system to get an excellent understanding of what’s going on with the putting stroke,” Kunman explains. “Among the many variables measured are face angle, lie angle, impact location, launch angle, alignment, forward rotation, club path and many more. Our clients are amazed that there is so much information available.”
While not all the data captured is of use to every player, instant identification of undesirable traits can lead to immediate improvements. “The system is so useful because it quantifies what we need to do to improve. It’s not just opinion, it’s data-driven and can identify slight imperfections in technique that would otherwise be hard to notice.”
Small adjustments to those imperfections can make a big difference, says Kunman. “When putting, if the club is as little as one degree open or closed, it’s very likely you’ll miss the putt. Likewise, not hitting out of the centre of the face significantly impacts accuracy and distance control.
“A lot can go wrong with the putting stroke, but the good news is that when imperfections are identified it can be relatively easy to remedy them because it’s much easier to refine and develop a consistent putting stroke than it is to remodel your full swing.”
As well as being invaluable in improving technique, the Quintic system can also help determine if your putter is right for you.
“Choosing a putter is a highly personal decision,” said Kunman. “But what the data can show us is whether a different head design, grip or hosel insert, or a different loft or lie angle works better for a particular player.”
To that end, the Putting Studio also offers a customisable Sik putter fitting service (the only one of its kind in WA), which allows customers to test out different combinations of shafts, grips and heads to find their perfect match. A putter can then be made to their exact specifications.
“Not all users will need to go to those lengths,” Kunman adds. “It may be that the data can cement the fact that your existing putter is a good fit for you and that can help build confidence in your game.”
Getting the ball rolling
I’ve always thought of myself as a half-decent putter but one who could stand to gain from a little fine-tuning. It was therefore something of a rude awakening when the studio’s alignment laser revealed that my putter face was open by a good 10 degrees at address – a virtual guarantee of three-putts.
Happily, only a minor adjustment to my grip was required to square up the face and within moments I was stroking them straight and true towards the hole.
I learnt that I routinely hit out of the sweet spot and that I don’t suffer from the common malady of accelerating or decelerating through the ball strike – an issue that even top professionals can struggle with. At 34″, my trusty 2004 vintage Ping Craz-E is the ideal length for my height
On the downside, I have a tendency to close the club face on the through swing and my launch angle is a little on the high side, although there’s nothing that couldn’t be fixed with some minor adjustments. All in all, I left feeling that becoming a better putter is within my grasp (no pun intended).
So, if you’ve recently struggled to sink crucial putts, or had one too many three-putts on your card, you could do a lot worse than head over to PGC and try your hand at the Putting Studio. Its advantages are far-reaching and applicable to most club golfers.
“While it’s not necessarily a useful tool for complete beginners, everyone else – from elite golfers to high handicappers – can benefit from the system,” Kunman said.
“A player who has just broken 100 probably had 40 or more putts in their round. Shaving a few putts off that total is a big step towards breaking 90. For low handicappers, being able to pinpoint precisely what they need to do to enhance their putting stroke could make the difference between winning and losing championships.
“We all love the feeling of hitting one out of the middle on the driving range, but there really is no better feeling in golf than making a crucial putt when you have to. That’s what we can help you achieve.”
You can also find out more about the full range of game improvement measures Perth Golf Centre has to offer here.