Thoughts on Putting and Alvie Thompson

Speaking about putting for a moment,

I can’t express how important the applications of TGM are in the smallest of strokes… putting.

There is a lot of talk about power, dynamics, and how to use the golfing machine to maximize power accumulators to create the amazing wallop into ball, hitting or swinging.

In my studies of TGM with both Ben Doyle, Greg Mc Hatton, and other TGM players, very rarely did putting come up in conversation about G.O.L.F.

I have to admit, that in my quest to REALLY learn how to putt, the best lesson I ever received was from a well known Canadian senior teacher who was recommended to me by both Moe Norman and Bob Panasik.
His name …Alvie Thompson. Alvie told me more about putting in 30 minutes than I had learned in 20 years on my own. My one lesson with him took place in a coffee shop at Mc Cleary Golf Club in Vancouver.
Everything I had learned and worked on my whole life just went right out the window. What he said made more sense than anything I had ever learned from anyone or found out myself about putting.

Amazingly, nothing was more “golfing machine” than what he said.

My old way was stiff wrists, straight back, straight through, practicing
through a Pelz track with rails, neutral grip position.

His way was extreme weak left hand, extreme strong right hand,
4 opposing pressure points in both hands. Free loose wrists, firm but flexible (sound familiar?) steep downward angle of approach (divot) and a plane shift (loop). He was big on different stance and weight distribution alignments depending upon left to right, right to left, uphill, downhill. Reverse loft of the putter face was big on his ideals as well. It took me about 6 weeks to incorporate these ideas into my putting stroke and this soon manifested into having a run of shooting 37 under par in a three week period of competitive golf. I have never putted “bad” for any extended period since.

Everything Alvie taught me was easily transposed into golf machine ideology. It was the single best lesson I have ever had.

My putter is zero loft, so with a slight drag of the clubhead through impact, I do de-loft the putterhead to some degree, and I line up slightly left of target, incorporate a very subtle loop and push the ball slightly to the right as I drag the clubhead slightly toward the inside quadrant of the ball. My practice strokes are always into the ground
braising the ground.

breaking down the left wrist (hinge) during the putting stroke is fatal…
by turning the hands out, the left wrist can’t break down, it kind of locks the hands together in a way that the bones in the wrists just won’t allow it… this is the idea of the long putters, belly putters… takes the breaking of the left wrist out of the equation… with this grip and hand position, you really don’t have to resort to a belly or long putter…
Cory Pavin comes to mind as someone who used this grip in his heyday.

You certainly don’t need to use all four accumulators in putting…
extreme precision is the name of this part of the game…

the palms would be both facing away from the body, not facing one another… Alvie really believed the hands just work better in this position for putting, I might suppose that because of the tendency for deceleration in putting, clubhead throwaway, he believed that with the hands in this position it helps to solidify the left side, and if you keep the putterhead moving down and out, and even into the ground, it all really works well, and is in complete harmony with G.O.L.F.

Gary Player used to take divots while putting quite often. Great putter and a wonderful application of golf machine ideals.

Lag,

What does zero loft on the putter do? Wouldn’t it drive the ball into the green and pop it up?

Thanks

There are some that believe this is a good thing to do…

Think of it this way…
you almost never miss when you reach across the hole and backhand your putt in…
and think about how much reverse loft is on the face then?

That was one of the things Alvie told me.

I just have to ask…So if the rules allowed you to step on your ball before you putt, you would? :confused:

I would believe it if you say yes because didn’t Moe tell you there is more control on your ball when it’s in the air?

No, I don’t think I would step on the ball!

A lot of the old timers did hit down significantly on their putts… of course the greens were not anything like they are today,
and they felt it was beneficial to do that. Alvie came from that era… and he was a great putter and gave me a lesson 6 weeks before I went out and shot a tournament record 17 under par at the Windsor Charity Classic. There certainly is method to his theories. He never suggested stepping on the ball! :open_mouth:

Moe did not care much for putting ,and neither did Hogan :imp:

I do have several putters in my bin, but not as many as irons sets or woods.

I like really simple lines on the putter, right now I have been putting with a 60’s Bullseye, really clean simple lines, and I have the shaft a couple inches longer than standard to take stress off my back.

I used to spend hours and hours practicing putting bent over the ball and that just killed my back over time, so by making it a bit longer, I could get my torso a bit more erect and keep the same arm bend if that makes sense. I never have been able to putt well with straight arms. I really like my hands in close to my body, not far away like some people, so a longer shaft works well for me. I don’t pin the putter into the body or anything like that, I’m not a fan of long putters or belly putters.

So I think I have three putters set up this way for me, and I do switch them out for fun. Would like to add more over time if I can find simple heads I like. I do like the Spaulding TPM series… used one of those (TPM 3) when I won on the Canadian Tour. I don’t seem to like the heel shafted putters, 8802’s and the Armour Iron Masters… they just feel too wobbly… and I guess I really like a straight flat leading edge from tip to heel.

Just a passing thought on putting, I do believe that Isao Aoki
had the most geometrically sound putting stroke, which really plays
into this thread of flat vs upright. He had the flattest putting plane ever, and is considered by many to be one of the best of all time on the short grass. People thought he was crazy for his low hands-toe in the air method, I think it’s absolutely brilliant…. the work of a true genius.

Putting is almost another game, it’s like a game within a game… yet is is almost half the game. Hit every green and two putt every hole, 36 shots, 36 putts.

One of the reasons for my retirement was putting. Not that I wasn’t a good putter, but the amount of time I had to put into the fine art of putting was really tough on my back and body. To “putt” on a world class level, takes an incredible amount of precision. I just can’t tell you how precise these guys putt on good tour type greens. I have witnessed some of the most incredible displays of putting you could ever imagine, often during rounds that go completely unnoticed by tour players that really shouldn’t be out there. I watched a guy shoot 82 tee to green, but post a 69. 21 putts. I’ve seen a guy who hits 17 rugs, shoot 73, and the guy hitting 6 greens shoot 68.

I do know how to get my putting into tournament shape, but I don’t think I am the most naturally gifted putter. I believe that if you really know how to do something, you shouldn’t have to practice much…some… but nothing fanatical.

When I was “on” with the putter, the short stick would feel like I was swinging a sledgehammer. My hands would feel “heavy”, “deliberate”, very soft, almost dead or lifeless. I would do whatever it took, to re create this feeling in my hands so I could putt well on tour. It did not come easy for me, but I could do it with enough practice and repetitions. It wasn’t uncommon to practice 2 hours a day, just standing over a bag of balls, putting down a line, working on a smooth acceleration of the head, or any number of face alignment drills I would do. I guess that’s not bad if you consider a classical musician might practice 6 hours a day to play a complex Bela Bartok piece. Problem with golf is, you also have chipping, wedges, short irons, long irons, drivers, bunkers, and specialty shots that all need attention too. There just aren’t enough hours in a day to practice all the shots you need to go out and shoot 66 on a regular basis.
I did this life of insanity for 7 years, and you just can’t underestimate the precision needed in all parts of the game to really become world class.

The point I am making is that some players are more gifted naturally than others in some or all of the areas of the game. Or should I say have an natural ability to REPEAT their motion without having to obsessively practice. If you don’t have to practice much, you can concentrate on other things, like the golf course! Or getting enough rest. Or just enjoying the touring, cities, and getting your mind in a relaxed, enjoyable state rather than just grinding on grooving your motion in a machine like manner.

I always liked the guys that didn’t have to practice all that much and could still perform well, or even win without really being 100%.
Practicing can be tough on your body, and can really burn you out too.

Now to putting…

  1. You have to read the putt right… very few putts are dead straight,
    so as soon as you add “break” you add speed too. Obviously a putt struck too hard finished on the high side, too soft on the low.

  2. The putt must be struck on line with great precision. Acceleration
    is key here in that acceleration can really help keep the blade moving on your chosen swing path.

  3. You must hit the putt the right speed. The right speed for the line that has been chosen. This is the magic of feel! Something that can’t always be taught. Kind of like a great musician, not everyone is going to be Miles Davis no matter how hard they practice.

How do yo read putts? Observe… spend some time caddying for a great putter, or find a way to roll balls on greens so you can see the line from behind, and really learn to understand what the ball does as it rolls across the greens. I used to shoot golf balls with a pool cue on the green when no one was around, so I could really see what was going on.

A great way to work on putting face alignment is put a chalk line down on the ground or even at home on short indoor outdoor carpet. Learning how to send the ball down a straight line first will really help teach you the concept and precision of line control.
You just can’t be too precise here.

When practicing speed control, hit long putts… learn good lag putting.
I like to roll the first past, the second ball, leave it short, then split the difference on the third. The better you get, the tighter the three balls will be. This gives good purpose and intent for each ball struck.
Move around the green, hit different putts, don’t just hit one putt over and over…not when you are working on speed. Make sure you have good intent when practicing…

reading putts and speed control, work on that at the course…
line or face control you can work on at home.

There are really all kinds of neat tricks and drills for putting, and other advanced theory that can be applied, so I will probably get to all that at some point, or if I get around to writing a book, I’ll make sure everything I know is in there…!

Lag,

I’ve got this putter hanging around in my garage if you’re interested…
TPM 2 Putter for Lag Small Pic.jpg

Putters generally have 4 degrees loft to help get the ball out of its own impression in the green. I could see you would need a pop or hit type stroke to get the ball rolling using a putter with no loft.