Since I was first introduced to the iPing Putting App about two months ago I literally haven’t stopped using it. For those of you who do not know what it is – it is a monitoring device that gives you instant feedback on three elements of your putting stroke; your putter face alignment at impact relative to where it was at address, your stroke type and stroke tempo. The app measures your performance by analysing the consistency of these elements on five 10-foot putts before giving you a putting handicap based on the results. To date I have measured my performance 115 times and my putting handicap has improved from a slightly worrying 14 to +2.4. During this time I have seen a real change in my performance on the course with my scores dropping significantly. I put this down to a number of factors.
Firstly and possibly most importantly the iPing app has made me much much more aware of the most important & fundamental element of putting – a precise aim. On my first few attempts the feedback I received seemed contradictory – the ball was missing to the right but the app was signalling a closed face. It didn’t take long to realise that I was actually aiming the face a lot further right than I thought and pull/hooking the ball towards the hole. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, a number of tour professionals and even the Ping laboratory robot have a closed face relative to their starting position but the difference is that through endless practice they have consciously or unconsciously taken this into consideration and made the necessary adjustment to their aim. Most people simply do not have the time to trial and error their way to consistent putting. A putter face that is 2 degrees open or closed at impact equates to two ball width’s at 10 feet meaning an adjustment of the same amount is required when aiming. As mentioned before, a number of top tour players aim left or right and push or pull the ball to the hole. In my opinion and despite how the Ping robot is set-up – this is not the best way to putt. Making adjustments in aim relative to the length and slope of a putt requires a lot of calculating, to try and factor in a closed or open putter face makes the job that much more difficult and increases the chance of error. A downhill right to left putt will break more and be made that much faster by a player aiming right and pull/hooking the ball to the hole. The same is true of players who push/push slice putts on downhill left to right breakers. This combination makes a positive stoke difficult and in my experience creates a tentativeness that can cause missed putts and a loss of confidence in them. It is for this reason that I have made adjustments to my own stroke.
I now putt with a much more neutralised face at impact and can therefore aim more precisely & without adjustment for a closed face. In combination with this and to make-sure my stroke type and putter face are working in harmony I have also worked on reducing the angle of my ark to a ‘slight ark’ on the back stroke by feeling that there is less rotational movement of the shoulders and that my eye-line is more over the ball. This has helped tremendously and combined with a consistent tempo has helped my stroke feel extremely solid and free from any manipulation by the hands through impact.
A further factor influencing my scores is that my confidence is now sky high… continuously knocking in 10-foot putts makes the 4, 6 and 8 footers seem easy and lets face it these are the length putt’s that will affect your score the most during a round. The app has also improved my longer putts by instilling a habit of always aiming with precision. As a consequence and with an improved stroke I start the ball rolling down my intended line more often and as a result scare the hole more regularly.
Finally the iPing App is fun, easy to use and creates an environment where you are constantly trying to beat your last score and better your handicap. It is the only gadget I know that can make an hour of putting practice seem like a relative short space of time – which is good thing! The app is a great way of grooving a technically proficient stroke particularly when used in conjunction with a lesson from a PGA Professional (this will help with deciphering why impact readings from the app are what they are) I use it with my clients all the time and have witnessed some great results.