Golf Lessons with Coach Robertson
“LAWS, Principles, and Personal Preferences”
Taken from Coach Robertson’s book, “Gateway to the Game of GOLF”
As you learn to play the game of golf, you will learn more about:
; ball roll and path,
; how the putter and club face produces specific ball paths or roll,
; how body movements produce specific putter/club face paths and velocity, and
; what your preferences in ball path and roll are.
While this lesson uses the putting stroke as an implementation example, these LAWS and Principles apply equally to the full swing. We recommend golfers us the putting stroke to assess, learn, and habituate these LAWS and then apply them to their full swings.
Principle, not a Preference….The Laws of Nature, as well as the law of causality, govern
the game of golf, not personal preferences. Putting preferences are, however, acceptable when they are based on laws and principles. There is a great deal of room for individuality and personal preferences in putting, as long as those preferences are founded on laws and principles.
LAWS and Principles
You may not need to be reminded that LAWS and
principles are foundational and apply throughout your
game. However, keeping golfers on track is how we
earn the big bucks!
We highly recommend that all golfers learn to assess and
practice natural laws as those laws apply to the putting stroke first, not preferences. The following Natural LAWS create the causality in the putting game, and determine the direction and speed of the golf ball.
In your putting game, the primary determinants, or causality, of the direction and speed of the golf ball are the putter face’s:
; Center of Percussion (Sweet Spot);
; Face Angle;
; Angle of Attack; and
Sweet Spot or Center
The Sweet Spot of a putter is Putter Faceactually its Center of Percussion,
Target Linewhich is the ideal, and most
balanced spot on the putter’s
face to strike the ball.
Striking the golf ball with
the sweet spot of the putter face 1.2.3. transfers the greatest amount of
available energy to the ball and
starts the ball on a line perpendicular
to the club face. Remember that all putts begin as straight putts.
In the drawing above, illustration 1 is where the sweet spot of the putter face strikes the back-center of the ball, transfers full force, and moves the ball straight down the target line. This is a LAW of how energy is transferred from the face of the putter to the golf ball.
In illustration 2, the putter face strikes the back of the ball out toward the toe of the putter face, transferring less energy to the ball. In this example, the putter face has a tendency to rotate open in reference to the target line and propels the ball to the right of the line.
In illustration 3, the putter face strikes the back of the ball toward the heel of the putter, transferring less energy to the ball, and the putter face has a tendency to rotate closed in reference to the target line and send the ball off line to the left.
Striking the center of the golf ball on the sweet spot of the putter face is a top priority. Not striking the golf ball exactly on the sweet spot negatively impacts both the amount of energy transferred to the ball and the ball’s direction, making this mistake a double whammy.
Practice Sequence: Isolate, Please keep in mind that the LAWS improve, and integrate. we are covering with you apply to the [Remember to separate the habituation club face, and thus to the transfer of process from play. They are two separate energy from the face to the ball, in processes. ] the full swing as well. Player: Coach, I’ve come up with
a way of explaining your practice sequence that makes better sense
Coach: What is it?
Player: For practice, I’ve started isolating one of the laws I’m working on or
checking out, such as center of percussion. Then I use one of the
drill you gave me to improve on how that LAW works in my stroke,
which is the improve part of the sequence. I finish each practice
session by making a putting stroke with my complete performance
routine, just as if I was playing, which is integration. In the
integration step, I allow the change or practice to work on auto pilot. Coach: How is it working?
Player: Fine. I am learning to tell from feedback how well my practice is
going and it is getting much more specific.
Coach: So, what’s your thought for your putting stroke during competition.
Player: It’s totally on creating and executing blueprints on auto pilot. I learn
a lot from Step 6, which is feedback, but not at a conscious level.
IMPLEMENTATION is your key to being successful and to reaching your goals and objectives. In habituating the LAW dealing with Center of Percussion, we recommend
that you use one of several training devices designed to assist you. If you want help selecting such a device, you can e-mail Coach Robertson for suggestions. *Have a professional check the center of percussion of your putter and ensure that it is market properly.
Notes on Center of Percussion: ______________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________
Face Angle – the next LAW
The angle of the putter’s face, in
relation to the target line, as
is contacts the back of the golf ball Putter FacePutter FacePutter Face
is key in determining the Target Linedirection and speed of the ball.
Face angle is a primary factor in
influencing the transfer of energy
from the putter face to the ball.
Because all putts start out as
1. Square3. Closed2. Openstraight putts, the ideal face
angle is square with the target
line, which is shown as 1 above.
Being square means that the putter face forms a 90 degree angle with the target line. 90 degrees is the same as perpendicular. An important objective of your putting stroke is to have the putter face perpendicular with the target line through impact.
Illustration 2. is Open; the face of the putter is open (at more than a 90 degree
angle with the target line) at impact, the golf ball is propelled to the right of the line, and with some energy loss. That is the law.
When the face angle of the putter is closed (at less than 90 degrees) at impact such
as in Illustration 3., the golf ball is propelled to the left of the target with some energy loss.
IMPLEMENTATION is your key to being successful and to reaching your goals and objectives. In habituating the LAW dealing with Face Angle, we recommend that you
use one of several training devices designed to assist you. If you want help selecting such a device, you can e-mail Coach Robertson for suggestions.
*Have a professional check the face angle of your putter and ensure that it is properly aligned with the shaft.
Notes on Face Angle: ______________________________________________
The path of your putter’s face
as it passes through the ball Putter Faceat impact also determines the
Putter Facedirection the ball will travel Putter FaceTarget Linein relation to the target line.
Again, that is a LAW, not a
Through the putting
1.stroke, your posture, stance, 2.3. and alignment govern, to a
major extent, the path of the
putter’s face through impact.
In the first example above, when the path of the putter face is parallel with, or traveling along, the target line through impact, the golf ball is propelled straight down the target line, which is the objective. An important technique of the putting stroke is to have the putter face travel straight along the target line a few inches prior to, through, and a few inches past, impact.
In example 2, when the path of the putter face travels from outside the target line, through the ball, and to the inside on the follow through, the golf ball is propelled to the left of the target line. There is typically, however, no loss of energy transfer.
In example 3, when the path of the putter face is traveling from inside the target line, through the ball, and to the outside on the follow through, the golf ball is propelled to the right of the target line. There is typically no loss of energy transfer.
IMPLEMENTATION is your key. In habituating the LAW dealing with Path, we
recommend that you use one of several training devices designed to assist you. If you would like help selecting such a device, you can e-mail Coach Robertson for suggestions.
Notes on Path: ____________________________________________________
Do you recall that one of
or objectives in the putting
stroke is to return the
Putter ShartPutter ShartPutter Shartputter’s shaft to its original
set up position? That MORE thanoriginal position is 90 DegreesLESS thanperpendicular to the green, 90 Degrees90 Degrees
or forming a 90 degree
angle; such as in the first
Illustration to the right.
Putting Surface The perpendicular 123 position of the shaft, and
thus the putter face, in
example 1, is particularly
important in the putting stroke because the typical putter is manufactured with only 4 - 5 degrees loft, which is not very much. Therefore, even minor position differences in relation to the putter’s face angle, or loft, with the putting surface can make large
differences. The objective is to position the putter perpendicular with the green in your set up and return it to that exact position through impact.
In the second example, the putter shaft, and thus the putter face and loft, is more open (more than a 90 degree angle with the shaft). With more loft, there is actually less energy being transferred from the putter face to the golf ball. With additional loft comes additional back spin, which is exactly opposite of what we want in the putting stroke. In putting, we want the ball over spinning as quickly as possible, which helps the ball
remain on line. Loft is typically added to the putter’s face when the golfer’s hands are behind or late in the stroke.
In example number 3, the putter shaft, and thus the putter face are more closed
(less than 90 degrees). In this position, the golf ball not only receives less energy from the putter face, but is more apt to be pinched between the putter face and the green, and thus jump off line. Loft is typically reduced in the putter’s face when the golfer’s hands are ahead or early in the stroke.
Many golfers associate the concept of loft with woods
and irons but not with putters. The typical putter has Do you know what
4 - 5 degrees of loft. If the putter face had 0 degrees degree of loft of your
loft, what would happen upon impact with the golf ball? putter is?
Think about your driver for just a second. With 0
degrees loft, the clubface could not depart any backspin to the ball, which is what keeps the ball airborne. The same LAWS of energy transfer apply to your putter. Without loft, or with negative loft, the putter face would pinch the golf ball between the ground and the face, the ball would pop up or sideways slightly, and roll off path.
Years ago, when greens were cut longer than they are today, putters had even more loft in order to getting the ball up on top of the grass and rolling faster. Even today, some players use putters with more loft on greens that are cut long and with courser types of grass, and use putters with less loft for greens cut shorter and with finer grass hybrids.
IMPLEMENTATION is your key to being lowering your golf score. *Have a professional check the loft of your putter and ensure that it gets the ball rolling
correctly, and with the correct spin.
Notes on Loft: ____________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________
Reminder on Hand Position
Notice the perpendicular Hands
position of the putter
shaft to the green. Maintain
a grip position that allows you Putter
to keep the putter shaft in
a perpendicular position at Puttingaddress and through impact. Surface Ensure that you maintain a
consistent hand position at
How do you like the following
technical definition of lie 123angle?
Putter face“The angle of the horizontal Putter facePutter face
centerline of the shaft with
the ground line, tangent to Putting Surface the sole at the centerline
of the face. The typical
putter has a 70-degee lie
We are not even certain we understand that definition, but what we do understand is the illustration.
In the previous illustration, number 1 shows you the preferred lie angle, where the bottom of the putter face is parallel with the putting surface. Certain putters have unique shaped to their bottom lines, but having the bottom of the putter parallel with the putting surface is basically what we are looking for. We cannot recommend any other angle than number 1.
*Have a professional check the lie angle of your putter and ensure that it is properly aligned with the shaft.
Notes on Lie Angle: ________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________
Angle of Attack
Definition: The angle of Angle of
Pendulumattack is the vertical Strokemovement of the putter face Puttingthrough the forward stroke Surfacein relation to the golf ball Golf Ball
and putting surface. Angle of Gate StrokeWith a Gate Stroke PuttingIt is fairly difficult to hit down Surfaceor up on the ball at much Golf Ball
of an angle with a gate
stroke (the bottom example)
because it is a one-lever
motion with very little elevation through the stroke. One-lever means there are no angles, or wrist cock, created in the stroke. The vertical arc of the gate stroke is typically very flat, thus having little, if any, angle of attack.
A Pendulum Stroke (top example) does, however, have more elevation in its
vertical arc, and thus its angle of attack is greater. It is important to work on a consistent angle of attack when using a pendulum stroke.
There is more information on these two strokes throughout your book.
Definition: the velocity (speed) and mass (weight) of the putter face are determinants of the amount of energy transferred to the golf ball. With the putter, mass is the quality of matter as determined from its weight and the distribution of that weight. All things being equal, a heavier putter (more mass) will propel a golf ball further than would a lighter putter (less mass). Refer to Lesson VII for additional information on touch.
We find more and more Champion Tour Players converting to heaver putters in order to gain a greater sense of touch.
By this point in our work together, you are well aware of the fact that one of our foundational principles for a consistent putting stroke is to produce a consistent rocking or turning motion of the shoulders, and with no hand and wrist power source. In this way, golfers can adjust the distance a putt travels by only changing the length of the stroke
The remainder of the information on power generation and energy transfer is dependent upon stroke techniques and preferences, therefore the remainder of this discussion is presented in the techniques section of your book.
Our recommendation is that you habituate the LAWS of your putting stroke on a good putting surface for approximately fifteen minutes a day for thirty contiguous days. This dedication to practice may dictate that you work indoors and on a flat and level surface at least part of the time. After you have habituated the LAWS of your putting stroke, we recommend you check them out at least once a month on the same ideal surface. Consult
your local golf professional for appropriate putting surfaces and assessment and training aids.
Coach Robertson is a PGA Tour Instructor, Director of The St. Andrews Golf
Academy, Staff Writer for The World Golf Teachers Federation, and Head
Men’s and Women’s Golf Coach at Warner Pacific College…Go Knights!
Coach always enjoys your feedback and can be contacted at.
JRobertson@WarnerPacific.edu or on Skype at James.E.Robertson USA.