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Opinion & Analysis

Taking the eyes out of putting

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Before we take the eyes out of putting, let’s take a quick eye test. Look at this picture below and answer this question: Which looks longer, A or B?

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 8.35.18 AM

The correct answer is C!

I know you just read the question again and are screaming, “There is no C!”

That’s because like any great illusion, it’s a trick. The cards you see are EXACTLY the same. Our eyes are just lousy at seeing curves.

Which brings us to green reading in the modern game. Think about golf course architecture — specifically green construction. Courses are now built with modern capabilities, no bare hands and mules dragging soil. So what are some things that happen that upset our eyes’ ability to read greens?

No. 1 is that the architect can tilt the green away from natural drainage patterns. The old saying “it breaks toward the water” actually can be 100 percent wrong because the architect can move the dirt to make it go the other way.

When the PGA Tour was at Torrey Pines recently for the Farmers Insurance Open, I heard the announcers say too many times to count that the players need to take into account the ocean when reading the break for a putt. Lunacy! When the South Course was redone before the 2008 U.S. Open, modern equipment was brought in to move the ground around, and man determined the slopes on the greens — NOT NATURE. It would be very easy for me to build a green that broke completely away from the water, agreed?

Secondly, man-made drainage patterns allow for run off in a minimum of three directions for most greens. So you can have lots of opposite movement on greens that mess with your eyes, also going away from the natural lay of the land. So in Phoenix, putts are not necessarily biased to break toward “The Valley,” and in Palm Springs, they all don’t break toward Indio!

That is why eyesight can be so misleading. There has to be a better way to read greens that does not fool you and make you guess as to what you are seeing?

AdamScottAimPoint

That brings me to last May when I was hanging around the putting green at The Memorial Tournament. Adam Scott had just won the previous week and made lots of putts including two in a playoff. Before each putt, he held up several fingers and then lined up and hit the putt. It was the first time I had seen Aimpoint Express. I had read about it, but now it was live fire with the No. 1 player in the world at that time. Now here I was watching it up close at The Memorial. I soaked it all in as Hunter Mahan worked the green with his caddy. Then Adam arrived and worked it.

I noticed two things immediately:

  1. They made lots of putts…and they made the reads quickly in doing so.
  2. When they missed, they were burning the edge every time.

In fact, you might already be doing Aimpoint Express and not even know it! Have you ever gotten over a putt and felt like it might break more/less than you saw? That is because your feet are feeling the incline and sending your body an adjustment to calibrate to so you stand in balance. That is exactly what Express does.

StacyLewicAimPoint

This gets me to the point of needing to bring clarity to Aimpoint Express for players confused by what they are seeing and hearing on TV. Just last week, Jerry Foltz and Judy Rankin on The Golf Channel LPGA Tour telecast from Ocala had an Aimpoint Express discussion that was full of errors that left the viewer confused and badly misinformed.

So let me give you some facts about green reading with Aimpoint Express. We are going to hit these 3 points:

  1. Aimpoint Express is quick.
  2. Aimpoint Express is NOT technical.
  3. The best players are using it.

Take the last point first because all you have to do is read the list of names that use Aimpoint Express: Adam Scott, Anna Nordqvist, Stacey Lewis, Ian Poulter, Zach Johnson, Hunter Mahan and Lydia Ko, the new No. 1-ranked female golfer in the world.

Also, Aimpoint Express is not technical. When you can learn it in less than an hour and immediately make putts from all over the green, that is in no way technical. Quantum Physics or String Theory is technical. Taking apart my computer and putting it back together (and having it work again) is technical!

Here is how non-technical it is.

I had a tour player recently ask me what we do about grain and if I can adjust to play more or less break if I want to with Aimpoint Express? He had been told there is no adjustment for it because it is too technical. Well, that is another false statement and goes to how not technical it is. Aimpoint Express is accurate to 95 percent of the read, while the other 5 percent of the putt is your experience and athleticism, adjusting for things like grain and how hard to strike the ball. It’s literally as easy as that!

The last comment I hear a lot is that Aimpoint takes too long. On the contrary, it’s so fast that if every player on the Ryder Cup teams last year knew how to do it, they could play the event in two days instead of three. I can get the read and have the putt on the way a lot faster with Aimpoint Express than when I read it with my eyes after walking all over the place. My eyes are nowhere near accurate enough for me to get the read quickly!

I prefer to be 95 percent accurate as opposed to just going with my best guess and reading putts with my eyes. Remember the test above, with the curved cards, if you want to trust your eyes.

Our feet are like a pair of highly sensitive levels. They are always seeking dynamic balance to keep us safe by making minute adjustments and sending that message to our brain. So they are very effective at feeling slope because they have been doing that since we started to walk in order to keep us upright and out of harm’s way.

So after learning Aimpoint Express and teaching it to my players and watching them win tournaments, I can clearly see the future of green reading. If you do not want more precision, then keep guessing with your eyes. If you want to get your read faster and make more putts, then find a certified instructor near you and check out Aimpoint Express.

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If you are an avid Golf Channel viewer you are familiar with Rob Strano the Director of Instruction for the Strano Golf Academy at Kelly Plantation Golf Club in Destin, FL. He has appeared in popular segments on Morning Drive and School of Golf and is known in studio as the “Pop Culture” coach for his fun and entertaining Golf Channel segments using things like movie scenes*, song lyrics* and familiar catch phrases to teach players. His Golf Channel Academy series "Where in the World is Rob?" showed him giving great tips from such historic landmarks as the Eiffel Tower, on a Gondola in Venice, Tuscany Winery, the Roman Colissum and several other European locations. Rob played professionally for 15 years, competing on the PGA, Nike/Buy.com/Nationwide and NGA/Hooters Tours. Shortly after embarking on a teaching career, he became a Lead Instructor with the golf schools at Pine Needles Resort in Pinehurst, NC, opening the Strano Golf Academy in 2003. A native of St. Louis, MO, Rob is a four time honorable mention U.S. Kids Golf Top 50 Youth Golf Instructor and has enjoyed great success with junior golfers, as more than 40 of his students have gone on to compete on the collegiate level at such established programs as Florida State, Florida and Southern Mississippi. During the 2017 season Coach Strano had a player win the DII National Championship and the prestigious Nicklaus Award. He has also taught a Super Bowl and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, a two-time NCAA men’s basketball national championship coach, and several PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players. His PGA Tour players have led such statistical categories as Driving Accuracy, Total Driving and 3-Putt Avoidance, just to name a few. In 2003 Rob developed a nationwide outreach program for Deaf children teaching them how to play golf in sign language. As the Director of the United States Deaf Golf Camps, Rob travels the country conducting instruction clinics for the Deaf at various PGA and LPGA Tour events. Rob is also a Level 2 certified AimPoint Express Level 2 green reading instructor and a member of the FlightScope Advisory Board, and is the developer of the Fuzion Dyn-A-line putting training aid. * Golf Channel segments have included: Caddyshack Top Gun Final Countdown Gangnam Style The Carlton Playing Quarters Pump You Up

57 Comments

57 Comments

  1. terry

    Feb 27, 2015 at 11:28 am

    could this be part of what’s wrong with golf. its hard enough, now course architects are changing the slopes to not match the natural tendencies… dumb.

  2. Jerry

    Feb 19, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    “Feeling” the slope with your feet is only valid for about a 3 ft putt. Beyond that length the slope is rarely consistent with where the ball rests. Matter of fact, for me at least, if I can feel the slope when I stand over the ball for that 3 footer, it’s so severe that it’s real luck if ball goes in.

    • Jose

      Mar 3, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      We have found this not too be true. Your feet can tell you a lot about how the green changes over distance.

      Shawn Clement and I have crafted a putting drill in the dark. Well almost in the dark. You need enough light such as a full moon or a nearby parking lot lamp so that you can still barely see the hole and ball while being totally deprived of depth perception.

      You do the around the world drill at a pin position with slope using 5 balls at 5 feet. For ADHD kids we do semi circles and alternate the sides of the hole in order to maintain focus. Since you can not see the slope your senses will be hyper charged to be aware of what your feet and your inner balance mechanism are telling you. When you go up and over the falling it becomes very obvious. By the third time through the sequence you will make most if not all of the putts even though you can not see a thing.

      Then do the same with a 5 ball ladder drill from 10′ to 30′ feet. With the first putt you can stills how the ball reacts near the hole. On the second putt you apply that knowledge plus what your feet are telling you is the difference between ball 1 and ball 2 and the second putt ends up much closer. By the third time through the ladder there is very little difference between the outcome of the ladder drill in the dark vs the ladder drill in the light.

      However you still need your eyes. You need both senses to allow you brain to predict. This is why we teach ADHD kids to walk above the break, around the hole and stop below the hole. Then they build a picture of how the ball will roll into the hole. They walk back to the ball below the break. Then they build a picture of the ball going into the hole starting from the hole backwards from what both their feet and their eyes are telling them.

      It is like a Chef sautéing vegetables. An experienced chef uses what his or her eyes, ears, and nose are telling them what is going on in the pan. If the veggies have spent a couple of days in the crisper, they are more dehydrated and will sizzle less in the pan. At that point the chef instinctively grabs for the chicken stock sooner. His brain has predicted from the sound and experiences that the veggies are about to burn sooner than the time the recipe suggests.

      You need to build awareness of what your eyes, feet and inner balance mechanisms are telling you.

      Your brain is a marvelous prediction machine.

  3. pete kauffman

    Feb 13, 2015 at 9:24 am

    How can an amateur learn AimPoint?

  4. Rob Strano

    Feb 13, 2015 at 8:04 am

    Thanks for all the mostly favorable comments on the article. Understand that I wrote it to help explain why you “might” miss putts, why there is another way, and to correct wrong information that so called expert golf commentators are sharing during telecasts (Yesterday Feherety said everything at Pebble breaks toward the ocean, UGH….). In this limited space I do not have the luxury of a dissertation length narrative to explain everything. Just because I did not write about the HOW does not mean anything negative mentioned in the comments is valid. It means that I chose to help you by giving you facts over falsehoods and misconceptions so that you are correctly informed. If you want more about AE here is a great article about the HOW by one of the other certified instructors:

    http://www.todaysgolfer.co.uk/tips-and-tuition/tuition-features/the-art-of-green-reading/

  5. Martin

    Feb 13, 2015 at 6:25 am

    I just read an article about a process I had never heard of before and I don’t know anything more about it than I did before I read the article.

  6. Long

    Feb 13, 2015 at 6:08 am

    The idea of Aimpoint express is to quickly read the break and give us the weekend hackers a much better chance to 2putt from outside of 6 feet. I dont expect to make everything for mid range and long range putt. My number of 3 putt has significantly reduced since i took the aimpoint express class. And like some of you mentioned, you have to practice a lot to get better at feeling the slope with your feet. Adam has practiced every day to feel the slope and double check with a digital meter.

  7. Tom

    Feb 13, 2015 at 5:28 am

    If this article was in any sort of scientific journal it would come with a massive disclaimer at the bottom of it.
    Plus the question at the top of the article is ‘Which looks longer, A or B?’ not ‘which is larger, A or B?’ Therefore the answer is ‘B’ it looks larger.

  8. Tim

    Feb 13, 2015 at 4:41 am

    I have tried it. Not sure I like it. feeling the break through your feet is just as difficult as seeing it with your eyes. Its also just as open to error. if you tend to favour your weight on one side or the other won’t that make a putt that curves feel straight potentially. If I was barefoot on a green I might be able to feel all the slopes, but with spiked shoes its just as much a lottery for me as using my eyes

    • Fred

      Mar 5, 2015 at 3:12 pm

      That is exactly correct Tim ! I have got to come up with a gimmick for golf. We are so easy !

  9. Chris C

    Feb 13, 2015 at 12:05 am

    With all due respect, this article provided no useful information and is simply an add for Aimpoint. I am not saying that Aimpoint is worthless. I am saying that this article provided no information regarding the “secrets” of Aimpoint. Step right up people. Pay your quarter and step into into the tent to see the lizard girl from the Amazon… It’s fast; it’s not rocket science and some very good golfers know the secrets. At least the carnival barkers give some examples of what might be revealed inside the tent. With respect to Aimpoint, I would be satisfied if the author would have given a good explanation as to Scott’s use of a Vulcan mind meld grip to assess green breaks.

  10. Andy W

    Feb 12, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    So “regular” Aimpoint goes to the curb, now “Express” claims get 95% good reads? Insane quick Expert Greenreading is guaranteed 100% of the time with a P&SI-EGOS; where if ever a bad read, it is pilot error. And free support to correct pilot error. No charts, no foot feeling, no fingers needed.

  11. Anon

    Feb 12, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Nice sales pitch. Your article didn’t actually present any information about aim point though. You just bragged about who uses it and name dropped the whole time. Are you afraid if you shared a little knowledge that no one would come to you for lessons? This kind of thinking kept golf instruction (and other industries) in the dark ages for the longest time!

  12. Rob Strano

    Feb 12, 2015 at 10:34 am

    “When I stand over a six-footer I have a game plan,” says Adam Scott. “I know where the putt needs to go and that gives me great confidence.”

  13. Captain Oblivious

    Feb 12, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Sounds interesting. I think I will pass, though. I already make an extraordinary amount of putts. If I made any more, I’m sure I would be investigated by numerous government and golfing organizations. Senate hearings, the whole deal. Thanks, but no thanks.

  14. Steve

    Feb 12, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Adam Scott started using aim point when he was the number 1 player in the world, now he is number 5. Seems to be working, what a joke.

    • Birdeez

      Feb 12, 2015 at 10:10 am

      yet his putting stats have gotten better…. sometimes you drop in world ranking for other reasons, but that would take little more common sense and time from your part which you seem incapable of

      • Steve

        Feb 12, 2015 at 1:30 pm

        This article is a advertisement at best. it is a complete joke and has no merits, no proof that it works. It is some teaching pro trying to drum up buisness.

  15. rc

    Feb 11, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    I’m just waiting for the comment here with the youtube link for it :0)

  16. Rob Strano

    Feb 11, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    Thanks for all the comments on the article pro and con. I just got really frustrated last week at the comments during the telecasts on the LPGA and PGA Tours. Mainly this one from Ocala between between Jerry Foltz and Judy Rankin on The Golf Channel telecast.
    Here is the transcript of the conversation:

    Foltz: “I know Judy you get a lot of questions from viewers who look for a definition as to what it is, and it’s impossible to give you an overview that quickly but essentially it’s a modern day way to quantify what you feel with your feet a plumb-bob if you will.”
    Rankin: “And if you stick with us for a few weeks we are going to make every effort to explain this in layman’s terms.”
    Foltz: “You feel the slope with your feet and you learn how to judge it between a scale of 1-5 and then you stand behind the ball hold up those fingers next to the golf ball and where the outside finger is in relation to the hole that is your Aimpoint. It is a little more complicated than that.”
    (Then Lydia Ko makes a super long birdie putt using Aimpoint Express!!)
    Rankin: “I have to ask one more question Jerry…Does it matter which is your dominant eye because it sure did plumb-bobing?”
    Foltz: “Yea, I believe it does. Yea, you just , with plumb-bobbing you are like how Karrie Webb does, and is doing, you have to basically stand perpendicular to the slope and then hold your dominant eye. The putter between your dominant eye and the outside edge of the ball. Very similar with the Aimpoint.”

    Very confusing and it made my head spin listening to them and I know what I am doing. So how must the viewer feel when hearing all that?. It is OK if you do not know something to simply say “I don’t know,” instead of making stuff up. The point is to help the readers understand some correct facts against what they are hearing on telecasts and maybe see why the best players are doing it.

  17. Richard Davis

    Feb 11, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    I’m blind in one eye,a good reader of greens.
    I actually do it with my feet. I learned the art
    of putting from a pro that played in the 1st
    masters. Won’t use his name,son copied righted
    everything he did or said.
    (QUOTE) in real estate 3 important things to remember
    Location…Location…Location
    IN PUTTING POSTURE…BALANCE…FEEL
    Everything starts from the ground up.

  18. Secret

    Feb 11, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Folks folks folks.

    The reason why there is so much misinformation from guys like Foltz and even good Tour players is this…..: They don’t really want you to know the secret. It’s always been that way.

  19. 8thehardway

    Feb 11, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    So AimPoint mitigates our difficulty reading curves, it’s accurate and easy to learn…
    what differentiates it from a protractor?
    and why is Adam Scott holding up two fingers?

    An overview would have supported your product better than the unexplained correlation with feet, fingers, photos and four paragraphs on non-natural drainage patterns.

    The lack of clarity is doubly annoying because my green reading I’m bad at reading the line

    • Secret

      Feb 11, 2015 at 8:16 pm

      If you take the course, you would know, wouldn’t you? Duh

  20. Preston

    Feb 11, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    I’ll save you folks some money. Here’s how it was explained to me by someone that did go to a teacher on the Aimpoint (not sure if it is correct, but I won’t spend the money on the class to verify it): The number of fingers is the amount of break. The length of your arm (distance from your eye) is the speed of the greens. This is the basic principle. First, you calibrate your arm (distance) to the speed of the green, then decide if the putt is a one finger break, 2 finger break (more break), 3 finger, etc….

    Example: a huge swinger from right to left… you determine that this much elbow bend equals the speed of the green, the amount of break is 2 fingers. Hold that up to the hole in front of you. This will give you your aim point for the putt.

    • Secret

      Feb 11, 2015 at 8:20 pm

      hahahaha what a joke.

    • MAx

      Feb 12, 2015 at 9:24 am

      Thank you for the explanation.

    • skytrooper70

      Feb 19, 2015 at 1:52 pm

      The number of fingers is based upon your getting to know the degree of slope (from 1-5, with the number of fingers equaling that degree). However, you place the index finger over one-half of the cup and determine your aim point, using the outer most finger (again, from 1-5). I never took the course but saw a promo video. My first three rounds since using Aim Point had me draining longer (over 10 feet) putts on a more consistent basis or just burning edges, more consistently. This meant the dreaded 3 putts were history. The key is to get used to your feel for slope and knowing how hard to hit your putts. Personally, whether it’s a cure-all or not is irrelevant. Now, I have much more confident in my reads and that’s what counts for any golf shot–confidence.

      • Rob Strano

        Feb 19, 2015 at 5:35 pm

        “Now, I have much more confident in my reads and that’s what counts for any golf shot–confidence.” Bingo!!! This is what the tour players tell me. They say now I have a plan and feel more confident over the putt…

  21. Cyd

    Feb 11, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    Anyone that listens to Jerry Foltz is asking to miss putts, cuts, greens, fairways and the broad side of a barn.

    Foltz is wrong so often I don’t think he is even watching the same tournament or much less the same shot or putt that I am.

  22. golferjack

    Feb 11, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    How about letting us know what Aimpoint is (I do know this is just a comment) and give us a bit of Information about how it works……..Otherwise I would like to see the Stats from the Players who use it now and how they putted before ….Then maybe I would like to invest my hard earned bucks in a lesson. Just as an extra there, I am quite happy with my putting but new things are often worth a look.

  23. Philip

    Feb 11, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    I’ve learned to just trust myself “my 5 senses, yes all 5”. Works from any distance, slop, or speed of greens and can adjust immediately to changing conditions. I believe many just forgot how to listen to their senses and let that information set them up for the putt. It is almost as if someone else is making the putt for you.

    It tool me a few months last season, but it was a project that is seeing results in all aspects of my game besides putting. Putting just seemed logical to approach first.

  24. Andrew Cooper

    Feb 11, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    Trust your feet don’t trust your eyes? Ok try reading a green with your eyes closed and relying on your feet to feel the slope…

    • Rob Strano

      Feb 11, 2015 at 10:01 pm

      Thanks for your comment Andrew. If you love the game like I do then you have run into this situation. It is late in the day and you say to yourself, “I can squeeze in a quick 9 before dark!” But you don’t quit make it and with 3 holes to play it is hard to see the ball in the air let alone read a green. Over the summer this happened to me and using AE I made 3 in row coming in without being able to see a thing. Years ago on tour (back when it was Buy.com before Nationwide) I was finishing in the near dark, they had not called play because we were two holes from done, and it was darn tough to see. Wish I had this back then!

      • Andrew Cooper

        Feb 12, 2015 at 3:58 am

        Rob, thanks for taking the time to reply. I’m a little skeptical of AE, but obviously lots of good players, yourself included, are devotees so I don’t want to knock it. Just can’t think I’d ever trust my feet to feel a slope over what my eyes are telling me! I can relate to your experiences of playing late in the day and holing putts-maybe because we’re also not over thinking the putt too? more relaxed, lower expectations? I’ve always felt I can read greens well- I’ll hit my share of bad putts but rarely do I get fooled by a break-maybe I’ve a sense of slope coming through my feet without realizing it.

  25. Connor

    Feb 11, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    I live in Seattle, WA and the nearest AimPoint certified coach wanted $600 for a 2-hour lesson.

    …I’d rather 3-putt?

    • Rob Strano

      Feb 11, 2015 at 10:47 pm

      Connor thanks for your comment.
      I charge my normal one hour lesson fee. Interested to know who that is and I cannot imagine they are doing many sessions at that rate.

  26. Mike

    Feb 11, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Sebastian, here are 3 Aimpoint certified instructors in Canada: Paul Horton Heritage Point Golf Club DeWinton Canada, Derek Ingram Elmhurst Golf and Country Club Winnipeg Canada, Martin Whelan Club de Golf St-Rapha L’lle-Bizard Canada.

  27. Sebastien

    Feb 11, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    I wish I could learn it but are any course offered in Canada?

  28. snowman0157

    Feb 11, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    I have taken the level 1 Aimpoint class (not Express)….but actually I have started using my feet to feel the slope and then trying to just trust it with my stroke….It Works! The feet and brain are very well calibrated it seems. If this is similar to the AP Express method, then I would suggest folks try it.

    • Rob Strano

      Feb 11, 2015 at 10:05 pm

      Snowman thanks for your comment. The article is about Aimpoint Express and glad you understanding the correlation between feet and slope. In a couple of years only the stubborn will rely 100% on the old way to read a green.

  29. Don B

    Feb 11, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Great article, as an Aimpointer myself I get asked all the time what it is and how it works and I am happy to offer a quick lesson or a full scale demo. Doing this doesn’t really make someone good at it, until you spend some time training your feel for slope!
    So that’s where taking a class or two comes in. I have done training with Mark Sweeney and even he will tell you that without practice you will not be as accurate.
    One other point that will no doubt open Pandora’s box, is Grain! Just like Rob mentions that slope doesn’t necessarily break to a body of water or like the TV folks repeatedly say about the setting sun, grain is a misunderstood property of green reading. To put it bluntly, it has little bearing on green reading because “grain is slope”. Grain is the direction in which grass grows and grass grows where water goes. Water goes with the slope!! On today’s greens that are cut much shorter than in the past, grain is negligible.
    The only place grain effects a read is where the grass is longer, say fringe! And the only place grain doesn’t grow with slope is where there is no slope, on really flat spots.
    Aimpoint won’t guarentee you make every putt, but it will sure help you understand how to make more and why you miss when you do. I was always a poor putter but I now feel like I can make everything. And if I dont, it’s usually not far off.

    • Rob Strano

      Feb 11, 2015 at 10:22 pm

      Thanks for your comment Don and your last sentence is dead on…
      When I miss it always looks like it is going to go in but at the last roll just misses.
      Really tightens down your reads.
      Keep it up and make everything in 2015

  30. frendy

    Feb 11, 2015 at 11:00 am

    This article should be filed under ADVERTISEMENT.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Feb 11, 2015 at 11:04 am

      It’s filed under opinion, and comes from one of our regular featured instructors who writes about a variety of topics.

      • Knobbywood

        Feb 11, 2015 at 2:13 pm

        This article does not tell you anything about how to use the system but it certainly tries to put the hook in our mouths so we can all go and pay for aimpoint lessons… I agree this is basically an advertisement and I don’t think it should be on golfwrx

      • Preston

        Feb 11, 2015 at 7:32 pm

        I agree, this it definitely not an opinion piece. An opinion piece would offer an opposing viewpoint, usually backed up with some facts. This is a teaser for trying to drum up business for Aimpoint teachers, which the writer just so happens to teach.

        • Travis

          Feb 17, 2015 at 4:00 pm

          I’m not sure you fully comprehend what “opinion” means.

    • Keith

      Feb 11, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      100% agree…but…AimPoint Express is legit and worth it if you can find a pro that doesn’t price gouge for a lesson.

  31. 4pillars

    Feb 11, 2015 at 10:10 am

    The big issue with aimpoint express is that it is so simple you don’t want to tell people how it works because you will lose big $$$$ on your expensive 2 hour classes.

    The actual information on aimpoint express you could write in a ten page ebook.

    Your article dosn’t in fact explain how aimpoint express works.

    I’m not knocking aimpoint express as a technique – I use it myself – just the $$$$ mentality around it.

    • Knobbywood

      Feb 11, 2015 at 2:23 pm

      Bullseye! First article on this site to actually make me feel disgust… Sad as this is one of my favorite sites 🙁 and this guy one of the best writers too…

      • Rob Strano

        Feb 11, 2015 at 10:41 pm

        Knobbywood thanks for your comment and sorry you feel so strongly that way. If you read my lengthy comment above you see that my desire to write this comes from all the incorrect commentary on the telecasts. Why does everyone have a hard time saying, “I simply do not know enough to have an informed opinion?” Also, I am unaware of the big $$$ around AE. I charge the same rate as my hourly lesson fee.

        Thank you for also saying I am one of the better writers. That was very kind of you. Don’t personally feel that way and am just trying to help everyone enjoy the game more and play better by sharing information from lessons at my academy.
        BTW, your handle would make a great golf course name:
        Knobbywood Golf Club – Pine Forest, Illinois

    • Dennis Corley

      Feb 11, 2015 at 2:26 pm

      In my opinion:
      Pricing of a product or service should be about “value” not “volume”. Just because the inventor can explain the innovative process in a short and simple fashion should not make it “less valuable” or “less expensive”. In fact I think it is more valuable how the process has so simplified some complex science.

      Value is set by the consumer. If the seller can help you putt significantly better with a small amount of information – how much is it worth to you? Many golfers are paying $250-$500 to get 10 more yards on a drive. I would argue that the benefits to score are more significant with AimPoint Express than a new driver.

      I will also say that, like stealing someone’s music with something like Napster, stealing the Aimpoint Express methods is not “OK” just because it is easy to communicate. (I am not suggesting that you specifically are going to steal it.)

      I have taken two AimPoint Express clinics. It is fast, effective, and worth the price– to me. If it is not to you, that is fine, just don’t then feel OK to steal the information.

  32. Jesse

    Feb 11, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Great article there is so much disinformation about Aimpoint im glad you cleaned it all up. I’ll be taking an Aimpoint clinic this year and am excited to try it out as putting has always been the worst part of my game.

    • Rob Strano

      Feb 11, 2015 at 10:43 pm

      Thanks for the comment Jesse. It will help you tighten up your reads a lot. One of the main questions I get from players who tell me putting is the worst part of their game is how do I read a green. This will help you a bunch.
      Play well in 2015 and make lot of putts!

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Podcasts

TG2: What’s it like to caddie for Rory? GolfWRX Forum Member shares his experience

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Marine and GolfWRX forum member “djfalcone” explains the story of how he got to caddie for Rory McIlroy and Johnny Vegas through the Birdies for the Brave program, and how knowledgable Rory is about his equipment. Make sure to check out his full forum thread here.

Listen to our full podcast below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Opinion & Analysis

An early look at the potential U.S. Ryder Cup Team

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With the Masters and the Players Championship complete, I wanted to examine the statistics of the current leaders in Ryder Cup Points for the U.S. Team. Over the history of the Ryder Cup, the U.S. Team has relied on pairings that were friends and practice-round companions instead of pairing players that were more compatible from a statistical standpoint. This has led to disappointing performances from the U.S. Team and top players such as Jim Furyk performing poorly at the Ryder Cup, as he is ill-suited for the Fourball format.

After a disastrous 2014 Ryder Cup where the U.S. Team lost by a score of 16.5-11.5, the U.S. decided to use a more statistical approach to Ryder Cup play. According to my calculations, the 2016 U.S. Team’s pairings were the closest to optimal that the U.S. Team has compiled in the last seven Ryder Cups. And not surprisingly, the U.S. Team won 17-11 over the Europeans.

Since there are several months to go before the Ryder Cup, I won’t get too much into potential pairings in this article. Instead, I will focus more on the current games of top-12 players in U.S. Ryder Cup Points Standings and how that translates to Ryder Cup performance.

About the Ryder Cup Format

In the Ryder Cup, there is the Foursome format (alternate shot) and the Fourball format (best score). There are distinctly different metrics in the game that correlate to quality performers in each format.

In the Foursome format, short game around the green performance is usually critical. In a typical stroke play event such as The Players Championship, short game around the green performance usually has a much smaller impact on player’s performance. But in a match play, alternate-shot format the opposite has been true. My conclusion is that with the alternate-shot format, more greens in regulation are likely to be missed. The team that can save par and extend holes is usually likely to come out on top. The European team has mostly dominated the U.S. team over the past 20 years in the Foursome format, and the European teams typically are stronger with their short game around the green.

Other factors involved with Foursome play are Red Zone Performance (shots from 175-225 yards) and being able to pair the right players together based on how they each play off the tee and with their approach shots from the rough. For example, a pairing of Phil Mickelson (who misses a lot of fairways) and Zach Johnson (who is not very good from the rough) would likely be a poor pairing.

In the Fourball format (lowest score), the best performers are high birdie makers and players that perform well on the par-4s, par-5s, and par-3s. Bubba Watson makes a lot of birdies and plays the par-4s and par-5s well, thus making him a good candidate for the Fourball format. The only issue with Bubba in the past is he has occasionally struggled on the par-3s. That can be resolved by pairing him with a player who makes a lot of birdies and is a strong performer on the par-3s. The reason for Jim Furyk’s struggles in the Fourball format is that he does not make a lot of birdies and is a merely average performer on the par-5s.

Note: All rankings below are based out of 209 golfers.

1. Patrick Reed

In the past, it has been difficult to get an accurate depiction of Reed’s game. He was notorious for either getting into contention or blowing up if he wasn’t in contention after the first round. He is now far better at avoiding those blowup rounds and remaining competitive regardless of how he well he performs at the beginning of the tournament. His iron play has been excellent, and since he is good on approach shots from the rough, short game around the green and he makes a lot of birdies and plays the par-4s and par-5s well, he should continue to be a great competitor in the Ryder Cup format. Given his inability to find the fairway off the tee, however, I would recommend pairing him with a quality performer from the rough in the alternate shot format.

2. Justin Thomas

On paper, Thomas should be Team USA’s toughest competitor as he has little in the way of holes in his game. He drives it great, hits his irons well from every distance, has a superb short game and can putt. He also makes a ton of birdies, plays every type of hole well and rarely makes bogeys. Like Reed, it would be advisable to pair him with a player that is a quality performer from the rough in the alternate shot format.

3. Dustin Johnson

DJ is the second-strongest performer on paper. The only thing that currently separates Justin Thomas from DJ is their Red Zone play. DJ has typically been a world-class performer from the Red Zone, however, and the data suggests that his ranking from the Red Zone should rapidly improve. He struck it well from the Red Zone in his last two events at Harbour Town Golf Links and TPC Sawgrass. And with his putting performance this season, he could make for a great competitor in this year’s Ryder Cup.

4. Jordan Spieth

Spieth has the metrics to be a strong Ryder Cup performer, as he strikes the ball well with his driver and his irons while having a superb short game around the green. His only weakness in the Fourball format is his performance on the par-3s, but that is due to his inability to make putts from 15-25 feet (198th). That is the crux of the situation for Spieth; can he get his old putting form back?

A look at previous great putters on Tour that inexplicably struggled with their putter shows that Spieth is going about his putting woes the correct way. He’s not making equipment or wholesale changes to his putting stroke. He is continuing to work with what made him a great putter just like Jason Day did last year when he inexplicably struggled with the putter early in the season… and then turned it around and regained his old putting form.

The question is, how long will it take for Spieth to regain his old form? Typically, players like Spieth that have a dramatic drop-off in their putting take about a year to regain their old form. He may not regain that form by the time the Ryder Cup takes place. If he does, Team USA is very strong with its top-4 points earners.

5. Bubba Watson

Bubba is off to a strong enough year to make the U.S. Ryder Cup Team, but the best bet for him is to stick to the Fourball format given his struggles around the green. Watson’s performance on the par-5s has not exactly been remarkable, but typically he’s one of the very best in the world on par-5s and can make a ton of birdies.

6. Rickie Fowler

Fowler has not been as strong in some areas of the game such as Red Zone, shots from the rough and putting as he has been in recent years. That makes him a little less appealing in the alternate shot format, but he still has a solid foundation to be a quality contributor in either format. The upside is if Rickie gets back to his old form with the putter and from the Red Zone, he should be a top-notch Ryder Cup performer because he is well suited to perform in either team format. At this time, he would be best suited to play with an accurate driver and very good performer around the green (i.e. Matt Kuchar) in the alternate shot format.

7. Brooks Koepka

There currently is not enough data on Koepka due to his wrist injury he suffered early in the season. Koepka is arguably the best bomber in the world who is also a great putter and a solid performer from the Red Zone. The main issue for Koepka has been his short game performance around the green. That would typically make for a weak partner in the alternate shot format, but Koepka was spectacular in the 2016 Ryder Cup. His combination of length and putting may make him a formidable Ryder Cup performer for years to come.

8. Phil Mickelson

As a statistical analyst for golf, I never quite know what I’m going to get from Lefty. This season Lefty has putted superbly, but his performance around the green has left a lot to be desired.

In recent Ryder Cups, he has been a quality performer in both the Foursome and Fourball formats. His recent success in the alternate shot format makes him a mandatory candidate, however, his inability to find the fairway means he would need a partner who is very good from the rough. The data suggests that his performance around the green should get closer to his old form as the season goes along.

9. Webb Simpson

Like Mickelson, it’s always a surprise as to what the strengths and weaknesses of Simpson’s game will be by the end of the season. Typically, he’s been a decent driver of the ball that is often a superb iron player and short game performer. With the anchoring ban, he has struggled with the putter up to this season. Lately, he has been an incredible putter that is struggling a bit with the irons.

Most of Simpson’s struggles with the irons have been from the rough, so a partner who finds a lot of fairways off the tee could be an excellent pairing in the foursome format with Simpson.

10. Matt Kuchar

Kuchar could be a very critical player for Team USA down the stretch. There are potential players on the team that could be valuable in the alternate shot format if they can find a teammate to find fairways off the tee to make up for their struggles on approach shots from the rough. Historically, Kuchar has been the most accurate off the tee of the players mentioned thus far.

This season, however, Kuchar has been underwhelming in his ability to find the fairway. The next most-accurate drivers of the ball that are near the top-12 in Ryder Cup points are Brian Harman, Bryson DeChambeau, Kevin Kisner and Andrew Landry, and none of them have nearly the experience in the Ryder Cup as Kuchar has. If Kuchar continues to miss fairways, his chances of making the team are not good unless he’s a Captain’s pick. If he cannot find the fairway, he has little-projected value as a member of the team. He is not making a lot of birdies, and his struggles on the par-3s and does not make him a favorable teammate in the Fourball format either.

11. Brian Harman

Harman’s value is that he has fairly decent Fourball metrics and his accuracy off the tee, putting, and iron play can work well with players like Fowler, Simpson, and Kuchar in the alternate shot format.

Harman has not performed that well from around the green using the Strokes Gained methodology, however; he ranks 15th on shots from 10-20 yards. I placed that metric in there as strokes gained takes into account all shots from less than 30 yards, but 10-20 yards is the most common distance range from which scrambling opportunities occur on Tour. Thus, Harman is an excellent performer from 10-20 yards and is only losing strokes around the green due to poor performance from 20-30 yards, and those shots occur less frequently on Tour. His struggles from 20-30 yards would also explain why his par-5 performance is roughly average, as that is the distance players typically finish from the hole when they go for par-5s in two and do not make the green.

And even though Harman is not very long off the tee (147th in Measured Driving Distance), he is a quality performer from the rough and thus he does not have to be tethered to another short-hitting, accurate driver in the alternate shot format.

12. Bryson DeChambeau

Dechambeau makes for a solid Ryder Cup candidate, as he has no outstanding weaknesses in his game this season as he appears to have rid himself of the putting woes that have hurt him in the past. I think he is better suited for the Fourball format, however, given how many birdies he makes. Pair him with a strong performer on the par-3s like Rickie Fowler or Phil Mickelson and it would make a very formidable duo in that format.

A pairing with Mickelson in the Fourball format would be intriguing given DeChambeau’s excellent driving. DeChambeau could hit first and — if he continues to drive it superbly — that would free up Mickelson to not worry so much about his woeful driving and focus more on making birdies. Perhaps a Fourball pairing with Bubba would make for a situation where DeChambeau could tee off first and pipe his drive, and then give Bubba a free rip to hit it as far as he possibly can and give them a sizeable advantage over their opponents.

31. Tiger Woods

I know I said I was only going to look at the top-12 players in Ryder Cup points, but the readers would inevitably ask about Tiger anyway. Furthermore, Tiger is an intriguing candidate for the team given his current game.

Tiger has struggled in both the Foursome and Fourball format. He seems to not play that great in alternate shot. In Fourball, it appears that he plays well by himself, but he is often let down by his teammates. The Europeans have always gunned for Tiger in the Ryder Cup, and it takes a special type of teammate to deal with the hysteria of having Tiger as their partner.

There are the makings of a very good alternate shot partner with Tiger, as his iron play and putting are still really good and his short game has been incredible this season. In the Fourball format, it would be advisable to find a strong par-5 performer, as Tiger’s performance on the par-5s has not been outstanding thus far. Having said that, I could see three excellent partners for Tiger in either format.

Patrick Reed has the numbers to be compatible with Tiger’s game, and he also has the track record of living up to the moment in the Ryder Cup. Dustin Johnson is can make up for Tiger’s possible big misses off the tee and can overpower a course with Tiger. And Phil Mickelson, whose game is compatible with Tiger’s, and could provide a symbol of the old guard working together to beat the Europeans.

There are certainly a lot of compelling possible pairings for Team USA, and there is still a long way to go before we start to see what pairings are available. The European Team looks like one of the strongest in years, and with all of the potential storylines for the 2018 Ryder Cup, it could be one of the greatest Ryder Cups of all time.

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Podcasts

Gear Dive: How Tiger Woods used to adjust his clubs based on swing changes

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Ben Giunta, a former Nike Tour Rep and now owner of the TheTourVan.com, joins host Johnny Wunder and TXG’s Ian Fraser on this episode of The Gear Dive. Ben discusses working in-depth with Nike Athletes before the company stopped producing hard goods. He has some fantastic intel on TW and the setup of his sticks (around the 14-minute mark). They also discuss Ben’s new endeavor.

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

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