Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

A True Story About Putters (Part 1)

Published

on

“Ball on Green,” or putting, is a statistical environment of its own and was my introduction into the golf equipment business. A mutual friend introduced me to Dave Pelz more than 40 years ago, saying that as two equipment nuts we deserved each other. At the time I fooled around with ideas, but Dave was the real thing with his own booth at the annual PGA Merchandise show.

I started attending the Show with him on my own nickel and years later ended up working full time with Dave in Abilene, Texas. I mention this only as background to my years of study on putting implements, both how and why they work. Unlike Dave, I didn’t focus on the putting stroke. My world was what happened when the club head contacted the ball and how that relationship could be optimized.

Now fast forward some 44 years and my phone rings. I’m retired and concentrating on how to drive the ball distances that violate the laws of physics given my club head speed. It’s an old friend from the golf business and after a bit of reminiscing he says, “Barnyard I have someone you must talk to. He has invented the best putter ever designed.”

That got my attention immediately, because my friend was not unknowledgeable and conversely I did not believe there was such a thing as one putter that was significantly better than others. That thought was my little secret which I did not divulge.

My friend went on to explain that the person who designed the putter was a certified genius with an IQ well over 200. As some intellectuals are inclined, he was not given to sympathy toward those with lesser intellect. The obvious problem ahead was that you could hit a wedge between our IQ’s, however, my friend assured me that he had prepared the genius. I was lacking in many areas, but I did know putters and could render an honest evaluation.

We agreed on a time and date and as a favor to my friend I called the designer. It took maybe 15 seconds for me to realize that this person was very uncomfortable speaking with someone well below his intellectual level and I had to get on common ground. I asked him to explain his design to me.

The concept revolved around optimum torsional effectiveness, or “forgiveness on off center hits” as it’s more commonly known. I immediately thought of the Bulls Eye putter that was designed in the 40’s. It’s a putter that’s still used on Tour by some players, and Johnny Miller shot his famed 63 at Oakmont in the ’73 Open with one.

The Bulls Eye is not exactly the epitome of torsional effectiveness, but I wasn’t going to open that door — questioning his design would be tantamount to a personal attack. So I asked him what loft he had on his standard model and he said, “Zero of course. The design precludes the need for face loft, something I have tested extensively.”

I then asked how he conducted his tests and he said, “On a pool table, to understand the performance of the head the testing environment must be perfect.”

He didn’t say, “You dolt,” but the inflection was there.

Up to that point I was on my good behavior, but admittedly diplomacy is not my strong suit.

[quote_box_center]”I’m sorry, but your premise of no loft is incorrect and your testing environment is not applicable,” I said. “Your putter design has a fatal flaw.”[/quote_box_center]

You could hear a sharp intake of breath.

[quote_box_center]”Why don’t you explain the technical reasons behind your comment,” he said, his words heavy with sarcasm.[/quote_box_center]

It didn’t take me long.

[quote_box_center]”Putting is about controlling speed,” I said. “Some surfaces are excellent, some shall we say politely are less so. On the green the ball is sitting down in the grass and needs to get up onto the surface so it can roll on its axis and have minimal influence from imperfections. Depending on the quality of the surface, a launch angle off the face between 1.25 and 1.75 degrees is optimal (I thought I’d throw that in to try and penetrate his air of superiority). To do so, you must have face loft ideally matching the putting surface.”[/quote_box_center]

I was prepared to supply more of my putter design knowledge, but he had heard enough — which was basically that I disagreed with him, an unacceptable position.

In a thinly disguised effort to hide his disapproval, he ended the conversation making it clear there would be nothing further worth discussion. I told my friend the story and that I had to be honest about what I knew to be true. He said not to worry; they had found a wealthy individual who loved golf and they thought he was going to invest.

They were right — he did and the operation busted out (and to repeat this is a true story).

To be continued…

Your Reaction?
  • 39
  • LEGIT4
  • WOW13
  • LOL10
  • IDHT2
  • FLOP5
  • OB3
  • SHANK9

Barney Adams is the founder of Adams Golf and the inventor of the iconic "Tight Lies" fairway wood. He served as Chairman of the Board for Adams until 2012, when the company was purchased by TaylorMade-Adidas. Adams is one of golf's most distinguished entrepreneurs, receiving honors such as Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in 1999 and the 2010 Ernie Sabayrac Award for lifetime contribution to the golf industry by the PGA of America. His journey in the golf industry started as as a club fitter, however, and has the epoxy filled shirts as a testimony to his days as an assembler. Have an equipment question? Adams holds seven patents on club design and has conducted research on every club in the bag. He welcomes your equipment questions through email at barneyadams9@gmail.com Adams is now retired from the golf equipment industry, but his passion for the game endures through his writing. He is the author of "The WOW Factor," a book published in 2008 that offers an insider's view of the golf industry and business advice to entrepreneurs, and he continues to contribute articles to outlets like GolfWRX that offer his solutions to grow the game of golf.

47 Comments

47 Comments

  1. BIG STU

    Apr 25, 2015 at 5:27 am

    It all boils down to a couple of thing one of them being common sense and common business sense. Barney seems to have both IMHO. He just stated the facts from his common and business experiences in the golf industry. And I will make a comment on the loft thing and it is a common phrase different strokes for different folks. I for one forward press and hold it at impact so I need a putter set at around 3.5* static where someone who does not forward press will need less. That is why you have club fitters and putter bending machines. To get back to the original topic you have to find a niche for any product whether it is in golf or widgets. I would have to say Barney knows his stuff

  2. Rhoward

    Jan 27, 2015 at 8:56 am

    IQ’s value itself is debatable. IQ in the beginning was useful. It was developed by the Army to judge whether a soldier could handle explosives and the alike. The original scale does not go above 135 nor below 65. Only 3% are above or below those values. The value of an IQ above 135 is not given by the original design. Einstein’s IQ is in question given the new evidence in Israel’s archives — love letters showing his first wife came up with key ideas, and all the surviving physics notes that are hand written are in the wife’s handwriting. During the Manhattan Project and again when the Space Shuttle blew up — the big wigs (super high IQ’d physicists) debated the whys and wherefores. Socially, high IQ club membership usually takes hundreds of hours of practice testing to gain membership (yes, it’s a learned behavior). The great industrial epoch makers like Edison, Bell and Tesla would not have tested well; their knowledge was too single minded and their personalities too irascible. Lastly, child geniuses have not shown to achieve much when grown. This is all to say that Adams is right — the best ideas of engineering are forged in the heat of argument between like minded but tolerant mechanically minded individuals. The Wright Brothers debated fiercely for hours, days and even weeks on end over the smallest design details. They constructed their own primitive wind tunnels to help settle those fist pumping mental wrestling matches.

  3. Bread

    Jan 26, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Einstein had an IQ of 160. An IQ over 200 has been recorded exactly 3 times…

  4. holly

    Jan 13, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    david kargetta? black swan?

    guy couldnt hear a question, let alone a differing opinion

  5. bradford

    Jan 8, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    I find I putt better when I rub my older cat with my putter. It is important to note this does NOT work with the kitten.

    I can promise that anyone who putts with MOI, spin, torsion, and loft in mind hasn’t putted well in years.

    Gotta love your putter.

    .

    • bradford

      Jan 8, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      oh, and there are ~15 living people with IQ’s at 200+. I doubt seriously any of them is going into (and failing at) the gimmicky putter industry. Not when they can make HUGE money in the gimmicky pharma industry.

  6. Paul

    Jan 7, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    Love it, ‘Barnyard’!

    Can’t wait for the next chapter.

  7. ca1879

    Jan 7, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    Barney – are you ready to accept yet that no amount of straight talk and factual information will change a believers mind? Almost all golf related businesses fail or struggle, but telling an ambitious entrepreneur that will just harden their resolve to forge ahead. Laying out the facts on golf club performance will only prompt those who think their miracle club has revolutionized some aspect of their game, when they are really just falling prey to the many ways we can all fool ourselves. This unfortunate example, is just a another sad tale in the long list of things we golfers fall for. This con person sold people with no understanding of basic science a product that does not work as claimed (not saying it doesn’t work, but it’s not because of the imaginary zero MOI, or because it resembles a B2 wing) by using a “sciency sounding” line of patter. We’re a pretty gullible lot when you get right down to it, and it’s not just where golf equipment is concerned.

    • ca1879

      Jan 7, 2015 at 4:30 pm

      “will only prompt” should be “will not change the minds of”

    • Barney Adams

      Jan 7, 2015 at 10:04 pm

      Golfers have passion and when it comes to the business side I try to help them by ” telling it as it is” some are appreciative some call me a wet blanket ( or worse) Years ago a guy came to me with a plan for a putter Infomercial. I explained that he didn’t have enough margin cost to sale price on TV. He got furious said I didn’t want anyone else to have the success I did etc. ( and I mean really angry) He went forward, all in financially. Went bankrupt.

      • Scott

        Jan 8, 2015 at 2:40 pm

        Thanks Barney for your articles and stories. Keep them coming!

  8. Jonny B

    Jan 7, 2015 at 11:25 am

    This story just seems like the ramblings of an old guy. Oh wait, it is.

    Not really too familiar with all the technical stuff behind the theory of this article, but I can tell you my putting has dramatically improved using a zero-loft putter by Cure. Take it for what it’s worth. http://cureputters.com/zero-loft-tru-roll.aspx

    • bradford

      Jan 8, 2015 at 12:58 pm

      What do I call MY overspin putter? MONEYYYY…

    • derek

      Jan 10, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      i got a cure putter on ebay cheap, have u gotten over the aluminum bat sound?

  9. Ken

    Jan 7, 2015 at 11:20 am

    The best putter is the one that just holed the last 30 footer.

  10. Merty Huckle

    Jan 7, 2015 at 11:20 am

    you know, This is really interesting. At first I was pissed with the To be continued, ut I have to admit I’m hooked.

  11. RG

    Jan 7, 2015 at 4:49 am

    That guy is crazy!! Personally I’ve found that eye of newt roasted in bats blood lightly sprinkled over your putter while chanting,”Oingo Boingo Bingo Bar, I need a birdie but I’ll take a Par,’ works everytime.

    • Pooch

      Jan 7, 2015 at 9:41 pm

      RG,
      Now where can I get the Eye of Newt and the Bats Blood? Thanks for the tip.

      Pooch

    • jesse

      Jan 9, 2015 at 6:35 am

      Now you have me totally confused !

  12. 8thehardway

    Jan 7, 2015 at 2:40 am

    Mad genius with 200 IQ ignores Barney’s good advice, finishes flawed design.
    POW!!!
    Jack Hamm’s Zero Latitude putter goes on sale (it looks like a 3-foot long hammer)
    Jack now doing Tee It Forward promos for Barney

  13. killerbgolfer

    Jan 6, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    Great story!

  14. Stretch

    Jan 6, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    A couple of points while waiting for Part 2; loft is needed to get the ball to roll especially on less than perfect greens, the more the MOI in a club the more likely the ball striking becomes poor.

    3-4 degrees of loft works best for smooth fast greens as well as grainy slow and bumpy ones. On fast greens the extra loft will let the golfer apply more force to get the same distance. On short side hill putts on fast smooth greens this means the ball will start on the line instead of slightly sliding downhill at the release of the ball off the face causing missed putts unrelated to the quality of the stroke.

    Miller’s 63 was with persimmon woods, muscle back irons and the Bulls Eye. All had a small MOI and needed great ball striking to perform.

    • Sb

      Jan 6, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      As someone who has studied putting and the technology behind putters and loft specifically, loft is probably the most important individual factor in improving speed or distance control.

      Most amateurs buy putters off the rack and generally the putter has somewhere from 2-4*. Add the fact that most of those players add loft at impact and now have effective lofts of 4-6 degrees sometimes! This creates backspin and causes the ball to lose pace and skid offline.
      Bottom line is, on green speeds around 10 on average, an effective loft of 1 Degree is ideal for creating neutral launch. So for those golfers, having a static loft on a putter of 0 is necessary to achieve the 1-1.5 degrees of ideal effective loft.

    • Ponjo

      Jan 7, 2015 at 4:12 pm

      Indeed. 52years of age and Miller still my favourite ever golfer

    • Brad Ingarfield

      Jan 8, 2015 at 7:54 am

      “The more MOI in a club the more likely ball striking becomes poor” – interesting observation. I have often thought about this. Do you have any evidence or is it your opinion? No disrespect intended!

      • Stretch

        Jan 10, 2015 at 11:26 am

        The MOI opined about concerns how small headed putters and clubs demand a strike that is solid. Large headed clubs disguise the need for a precise by giving results when missing the sweet spot.

        No disrespect taken. 5 decades of playing at and with players in tournaments where the players’ handicaps (if created in the Tour players case) would be +2-+7 range.

    • jesse

      Jan 9, 2015 at 6:48 am

      Stretch: When does “Part 2” come around? I’ve been looking all over this website.
      Regarding “getting the ball rolling”; I always thought it skidded the first few inches anyway?
      Not sure about the mojo of the MOI. If you cannot strike a putt solidly, more than likely it took more than par to get to where you can putt. Not much chance of a 63 there.
      So you are advocating using a 3-4 degree putter for “everything”. On those fast greens and applying more force, wouldn’t that possibly cause more “un-solid” hits, or non-solid hits, or miss-hits, and more sidespin (and however slight it might be), therefore possibly starting on the right line, but never staying there. I’ve seen a guy cut every putt, be he seems to make more than everyone else. Just sayin

      • Stretch

        Jan 10, 2015 at 11:40 am

        Part 2 is up to the masters of the WRX site. I did try the Yar putter early in its life and could not get the ball rolling properly in the first 2″. No loft = no “tumble roll.” The ball may skid to some degree but the less it does the more the ball will stay on the line until the break of the green changes its direction.

        More force does not necessarily cause miss hits and sidespin. What does cause those conditions is not applying it parallel to the line the eyes look down. This is the secret to hit solid accurate golf shots no matter what the club used.

        I know of a player still playing on the Tour whose cut shot putting style evolved from an arced stroke to a hard slice. If you do it consistently it works. Slow grainy greens are not so productive for this style of stroke.

  15. Steve Barry

    Jan 6, 2015 at 11:36 am

    I was first thinking Yar as well, but considering there wasn’t anything about “him” saying they needed to ‘focus on the product, not the person’ I’m starting to think it might be something else. Here’s to hoping!

    • aharp

      Jan 6, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      This is a “TRUE” story. Seek the “Truth”?

  16. D man

    Jan 6, 2015 at 11:21 am

    So what was the point in this article?

    • jesse

      Jan 9, 2015 at 6:50 am

      The point in this article is you need a putter with no loft?

  17. MattyTeaks

    Jan 6, 2015 at 10:16 am

    Yep. Guessing he’s referring to the yar putter.

    http://grantland.com/features/a-mysterious-physicist-golf-club-dr-v/

    • Don

      Jan 6, 2015 at 10:55 am

      o.k. That is seriously messed up.

    • Jafar

      Jan 6, 2015 at 11:28 am

      Wow, what a story…

    • stripe

      Jan 6, 2015 at 12:04 pm

      WOW.

    • A

      Jan 6, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      Facinating Grantland article and the writer got killed for it but he shouldn’t have been. This needs to be made into a movie.

    • spazo

      Jan 6, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      HOLY CRAP! what a story!

    • Tom Bowles

      Jan 6, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      Holy crap! That’s nuts!

      • Alex

        Jan 6, 2015 at 1:51 pm

        Crazy story, but not the likely candidate for Barry’s story because Barry uses the masculine pronoun to describe the ‘genius’. This could be an intentional switch though..

    • Marshall

      Jan 7, 2015 at 7:53 am

      That article makes it clear that Gary McCord is a liar and a fool, but that was pretty much already known.

    • Josh

      Jan 7, 2015 at 11:53 am

      I was thinking the same thing. Best Grantland article ever.

    • Jonny B

      Jan 7, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      Crazy story. Had no idea about Dr. V or Yar prior to today. If this is in fact the putter/person Barney was referring to, which it does sound like, that’s amazing.

      If anything, I am interested in trying the Yar putter. Anyone already done so? Their website is borderline pathetic. If it is truly the gamechanging breakthrough piece of equipment it is advertised to be, don’t you think people would have heard about it/been using it by now? Marketing FAIL…

    • steve

      Jan 7, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      That is by far the most interesting story i have gotten while on WRX.
      Great find

    • Platonist

      Jan 9, 2015 at 4:17 am

      This grantland article was one of the best I have read in years. Solid investigative journalism!

  18. Jafar

    Jan 6, 2015 at 9:55 am

    Part 2 please…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Opinion & Analysis

Squares2Circles: Course strategy refined by a Ph.D.

Published

on

What do you get when you combine Division I-level golf talent, a Ph.D. in Mathematics, a passion for understanding how people process analytical information, and a knowledge of the psychology behind it? In short, you get Kevin Moore, but the long version of the story is much more interesting.

Kevin Moore attended the University of Akron on a golf scholarship from 2001-2005. Upon completing his tenure with the team, he found himself burned out on the game and promptly hung up his sticks. For a decade.

After completing his BS and MS degrees at the University of Akron, Kevin then went to Arizona State to pursue his Ph.D. Ultimately what drew him to the desert was the opportunity to research the psychology behind how people process analytical information. In his own words:

“My research in mathematics education is actually in the realm of student cognition (how students think and learn). From that, I’ve gained a deep understanding of developmental psychology in the mathematical world and also a general understanding of psychology as a whole; how our brains work, how we make decisions, and how we respond to results.”

In 2015, Kevin started to miss the game he loved. Now a professor of mathematics education at the University of Georgia, he dusted off his clubs and set a goal to play in USGA events. That’s when it all started to come together.

“I wanted to play some interesting courses for my satellite qualifiers and I wasn’t able to play practice rounds to be able to check them out in advance. So I modified a math program to let me do all the strategic planning ahead of time. I worked my way around the golf course, plotting out exactly how I wanted to hit  shot, and minimizing my expected score for each hole. I bundled that up into a report that I could study to prepare for the rounds.

“I’m not long enough to overpower a golf course, so I needed to find a way to make sure I was putting myself in the best positions possible to minimize my score. There might be a pin position on a certain green where purposely hitting an 8-iron to 25 feet is the best strategy for me. I’ll let the rest of the field take on that pin and make a mistake even if they’re only hitting wedge. I know that playing intelligently aggressive to the right spot is going to allow me to pick up fractions of strokes here and there.”

His plan worked, too. Kevin made it to the USGA Mid-Amateur at Charlotte Country Club in September of 2018 using this preparation method for his events just three years after taking a decade off of golf. In case you missed the implied sentiment, that’s extremely impressive. When Kevin showed his reports to some friends that played on the Web.com Tour and the Mackenzie Tour, they were so impressed they asked him to think about generating them for other people. The first group he approached was the coaching staff at the University of Georgia, who promptly enlisted his services to assist their team with course strategy in the spring of 2019. That’s when Squares2Circles really started to get some traction.

At that point, UGA hadn’t had a team win in over two seasons. They also hadn’t had an individual winner in over one season and had missed out on Nationals the previous two seasons. In the spring of 2019, they had three team wins (including winning Regionals to advance to Nationals) and two individual wins (including Davis Thompson’s win at Regionals). Obviously, the credit ultimately belongs to the players on the team, but suffice it to say it appears as though Kevin’s involvement with the team was decidedly useful.

“One of the things we really focused in on was par 3 scoring. They finished 3rd, 2nd, 4th, and 3rd in the field as a team in their spring tournaments. Then at the SEC’s they struggled a bit and finished 6th in the field. At Regionals, they turned it around and finished 1st in the field with a score of +6 across 60 scores (186 total on 60 par 3’s, an average of 3.10).”

Sample Squares2Circles layout for the 18th hole at Muirfield Village. Advanced data redacted.

Kevin is available outside of his work with UGA and has been employed by other D-I teams (including his alma mater of Akron), Mackenzie Tour players, Web.com Tour players, and competitive juniors as well. Using his modified math program, he can generate generic course guides based on assumed shot dispersions, but having more specific Trackman data for the individual allows him to take things to a new level. This allows him to show the player exactly what their options are with their exact carry numbers and shot dispersions.

“Everything I do is ultimately based off of strokes gained data. I don’t reinvent the wheel there and I don’t use any real new statistics (at least not yet), but I see my role as interpreting that data. Let’s say a certain player is an average of -2.1 on strokes gained approach over the last 10 rounds. That says something about his game, but it doesn’t say if it’s strategy or execution. And it doesn’t help you come up with a practice plan either. I love to help players go deeper than just the raw data to help them understand why they’re seeing what they’re seeing. That’s where the good stuff is. Not just the data, but the story the data tells and the psychology behind it. How do we get ourselves in the right mindset to play golf and think through a round and commit to what we’re doing?”

“Even if you’re able to play practice rounds, this level of preparation turns those practice rounds into more of an experiment than a game plan session. You go into your practice round already knowing the golf course and already having a plan of attack. This allows you to use that practice round to test that game plan before the competition starts. You may decide to tweak a few things during your practice round based on course conditions or an elevation change here and there, but for the most part it’s like you’ve gained a free practice round. It allows you to be more comfortable and just let it fly a lot earlier.”

Kevin is in the process of building his website, but follow @squares2circles on Twitter for more information and insight.

Your Reaction?
  • 17
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW2
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Podcasts

The Gear Dive: Mike Yagley and Chad DeHart of Cobra Golf

Published

on

In this episode of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with Mike Yagley and Chad DeHart of Cobra Golf Innovation on Cobra Connect, new ways to evaluate good play, and the future of golf improvement.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Your Reaction?
  • 2
  • LEGIT2
  • WOW2
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Podcasts

Mondays Off: U.S. Open wrap-up | Steve plays against the new assistant pro

Published

on

Would Woodland have won the U.S. Open if he had to hit driver on the 18th hole? Knudson doesn’t think so. Steve loved the U.S. Open, but he didn’t really love the commentator crew. Also, Steve tees it up with the new second assistant pro at the club, how did he do?

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Your Reaction?
  • 2
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK4

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending