A pure swinging motion is most accurately represented by a simple pendulum. How many times have you heard it, ‘Imagine the pendulum of a grandfather clock, the tick tock of an old clock!’ It’s true, and pretty much bang on cue when you study the best putters the game has ever produced. Each one, from Crenshaw, Roberts, Striker to Woods, each has developed a pure swinging motion, an appreciation for what makes a stroke a stroke and a swing the thing.
“A pendulum is a weight suspended from a pivot so that it can swing freely. When a pendulum is displaced sideways from its resting equilibrium position, it is subject to a restoring force due to gravity that will accelerate it back toward the equilibrium position. When released, the restoring force combined with the pendulum’s mass causes it to oscillate about the equilibrium position, swinging back and forth. The time for one complete cycle, a left swing and a right swing, is called the period. A pendulum swings with a specific period which depends (mainly) on its length.”
The ‘period’, a measure of time in space that very few have ever truly learned to consistently pace! It’s this consistency of pace that has defined every tournament winner the game has ever created. Lets face it, the best player on any given day, week, year or career has been the one who has effectively paced the ‘period’ within their pendulum motion.
So how do you do it?
How do you pace the period of the pendulum?
For starters you need to stop worrying about the stroke, just give it up! A pendulum has no care for anything other than the pivot it’s attached to. So lets first agree on the point where the pivot plays from.
Is it the hands?
Or is it somewhere in the sternum?
Many moons ago the likes of Nicklaus, Player, Hogan and Hagen most definitely progressed their game with a pivot from the hands. A very wristy action was clearly employed on the slower greens of their day, and to great effect. But the days of long cut greens have since been forgotten and today we consistently see speeds of eleven, twelve, even thirteen on the stimp!!!
So where’s the pivot today?
For me, it has to be somewhere around the sternum, either there or somewhere beyond it, a point on your spine, depends how deep you like to feel it. The point is, it’s a pivot so you have to feel it and feel isn’t anything real, real as in tangible, you can’t take hold of it, it’s unique to you so go find it, play around and see what you feel.
For me it’s in my sternum and from there all I have to do is maintain the relationship between the shoulders, arms, hands and club from a well balanced address to a free flowing pendulum feeling. The feeling I’m talking about is one of connection between these fundamental parts. It comes from the shoulders, a simple rocking of the shoulders allows me to forget about the hands and soften them to a point well beyond tension of any kind. From here I can feel every perceivable degree of weight distributed in the head and shaft of the golf club. For me this is the ultimate feeling of purity of motion, the absolute essence of what a pendulum motion is and forever will be.
But I can’t simply state what is and what should be your natural way to putt. All I can do is motivate, inspire and direct your attention to what makes a pure swinging pendulum possible. For me this is it, first and foremost find a point of pivot, then allow your pendulum to unfold. Remember, the pendulum has no care for mechanics, machine like movements, all your pendulum cares for is the pivot and the period which is determined by the length of the swing employed for the stroke before you.
“When a pendulum is displaced sideways from its resting equilibrium position, it is subject to a restoring force due to gravity that will accelerate it back toward the equilibrium position.”
If you swing it two inches behind the ball, then you better allow it to swing two inches in front of the ball!
If you swing it four inches behind the ball, then you better allow it to swing four inches in front of the ball!
What goes up, must come down, so feel the force and don’t force the feel. Simply learn to gauge the length of your backswing to the desired length of putt, then leave it to swing.
JUST TRUST IT.
But if all else fails, please, please, please just enjoy the game because the game enjoys having you as a key part of it.