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How drastically does slope effect green speed? More than you even think…

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As a golf instructor, I am a huge fan of Aimpoint for certain types of players since it gives some type of basic validity to what they see with their eyes. For more feel-orientated players, Aimpoint would be great to use in practice, but maybe not on the course. For those of us who struggle reading greens, I would suggest you try it. It’s not as technical as it used to be and the teachers teaching it in today are some of the best putting coaches in the business.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about an Aimpoint chart I saw regarding uphill vs downhill slope of the same percentage; it was eye-opening to say the least. For whoever posted it on Twitter (I cannot seem to find it again) please let me say THANK YOU and I am sorry I did not quote you personally in this article. Here is the chart:

Now to put the green speeds in perspective, 8 would be the speed of your average municipal course during the high summer peak play season (so the greens won’t get stressed and die), 10 would be the speed of a high quality private golf course in the United States, and 12 on the stimp is basically the speeds that the Tour players see at the Majors.

We know the speeds, now let’s examine what a 1 percent slope means to us in the real world. For that, I have asked one of the best Aimpoint guys around, John Graham, to describe this in more “normal” detail to us…

“A 2 percent slope is where holes are normally cut for your average pin location, while a 1 percent slope would be what you would perceive as basically a flat putt. The 3 percent slope is one that you almost see as a tough, but makeable, breaking putt and the 4 percent is one where you are uncomfortable and basically playing defense, trying to two putt at all costs.”

The creator of Aimpoint, Mark Sweeney said, “What people need to understand is the green is still stimping at the same number but the slope increases the overall roll to the estimated amounts. Thankfully the average green is only sloped 2 percent from back-to-front!”

From this description and the speed information above, this chart makes it even more understandable as to how slow or fast greens can get when you are playing. This does NOT consider the wind or grain which can also add or subtract speed from putts as well.

Therefore, the next time you are on the putting green, take the time to remember this chart and have some fun practicing your uphill and downhill breaking putts and see if you can fine tune your feel a touch better!

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: tom.stickney@puntamita.com

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. ogo

    Jul 15, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    Slope shmope….. just aim straight at the hole and then make a final decision where the break will pull the ball…. then correct for the break and bang away… 😮

  2. steve

    Jul 14, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Please explain the values shown in the Stimp-Slope table.
    My understanding of ‘stimp’ is that it is measured on a near-level green area. If you measure stimp rolling uphill or downhill it will be different. Also the direction of the grain will alter stimp readings. How about moisture differences?

    • ogo

      Jul 16, 2018 at 12:17 am

      Stinkney only deposits his odor on WRX website and vanishes… to chicken to respond to queries.

    • Al Czervik

      Jul 16, 2018 at 9:38 am

      Yes, stimp is measured on flat(ish) portion of the green and measured in several directions. What he is saying is that if you took a green with x stimp speed and then moved to a sloping section of that green or hopefully any green on that golf course that was consistently maintained, you would see these effective stimp readings. Another way to say it is according to the chart if you were on a green with a 10 stimp, you would need to hit a putt that was 4% downhill approximately half as hard as you would if it were flat to get it to travel the same distance.

  3. Jimmie

    Jul 14, 2018 at 9:35 am

    OMG, fingers and foot feeling? As a senior citizen, I have not felt my feet for years. Go to that expertgreenreading site where there is no need for stimp, fingers or feelings…

  4. SV

    Jul 14, 2018 at 8:36 am

    I understand the point of this article and it makes sense slope has a bigger difference than we might think. I do have a question: How is AimPoint any different than the plumb-bob method I have used for years. Supposedly it is useless, but holding up 1, 2, 3 fingers is better? Help me Tom.

    • steve

      Jul 14, 2018 at 7:46 pm

      You should asess the slope as you are approaching the green because once you are on the green it is near impossible to determine a gentle slope. Plumb bobbing has no scientific visual validity… it’s only a placebo for ignorance.

  5. The dude

    Jul 13, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    How do you know what I even think? Just kidding…..this is a really good article. I find it amazing how often pros miss on the low side (my quick math usually comes up with ~ 70% of misses are low…when watching on TV). Playing enough break even for the best in the world is an enigma…

  6. larrybud

    Jul 13, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    Good info, although I think about 0.1% of the players I’ve run into know what Stimp is, and everybody always thinks their greens are “running about an 11”. They have no point of reference because they’ve never measured it themselves.

    (by the way, I have, and in fact you can see the design of the Stimp meter online and build one for your own use).

    I think you should expand on this article a bit, using this info to explain why putts break more downhill than uphill.

    • Freddie

      Jul 13, 2018 at 7:50 pm

      Good article. Putts break more when going downhill because they are going slower. That may sound counterintuitive, but you have to putt at a slower pace downhill and let it trickle down towards a hole and the slower the ball is traveling the more gravity will pull it towards the break.

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Instruction

Lesson of the Day: Understand cause and effect to make permanent swing changes

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In our “Lesson of the Day” video series with V1 Sports, we match a different GolfWRX member with a different V1 Sports instructor. It’s extremely important to both V1 Sports and GolfWRX to help golfers improve their games and shoot lower scores, and there’s no better way to do that than getting lessons. While we not only want to provide free lessons to select GolfWRX members, we want to encourage and inspire golfers to seek professional instruction. For instructions on how to submit your own video for a chance at getting a free lesson from a V1 Sports instructor as part of our Lesson of the Day series, CLICK HERE.

This week, V1 Pro Dan Marvosh looks at WRX Member Matt Chappellie’s swing.

About the pro

Dan Marvosh is a PGA Professional as well as TPI Certified instructor based at Sterling Hills Golf Club in Camarillo, CA. In addition to providing a TPI physical screen to understand your body’s movement patterns he also uses the advancement of technology to accurately measure all of the key components that go into making you a better player. These tools include V1 Pro software for analyzing your golf swing, Flightscope launch monitors as well as a brand new wrist sensor called Hackmotion. In addition to in person coaching and programming, Dan offers his students the ability to learn from anywhere in the world via his golf academy.

Lesson context

My first impression of Matt was that he has an athletic setup and likely plays regularly, but like many of you, definitely will benefit from understanding the core cause and effect of why his inconsistencies in ball striking occur. Matt has a very weak grip, evidenced by the “v” of the trail hand pointing in front of his sternum. Players with weak grips generally get the club face fairly open in the back swing and thus have to react accordingly on the down swing to match up the open club face. While most high-handicap players usually react to an open face by swinging left or “over-the-top” to square that open face, Matt has a better players match up where he combines his weak grip with pressure towards his toes at address which cause him to stand up (to maintain balance) in the back swing.

As Matt makes his transition, you’ll notice he continues to early extend (note the loss of tush line) which for him does get his swing direction to the right, however in doing so he will have a significant loss of forward shaft lean and most importantly, face control. In short, standing up in the downswing reduces your ability to create ground force which encourages torso and hip rotation. If you watch Matt’s video, you will be able to understand the connection more clearly. Notice that when the shaft is parallel to the ground in the downswing (Golf Machine aficionados call this p6) the club face is still fairly open (hence why just working on rotation will not work), however just past impact the face has rolled significantly closed, further showing the effect on not utilizing the ground properly to stabilize the face.

In conclusion, like many swings it is often easy to notice the symptoms of Matt’s flawed pattern, however understanding the core cause and thus effect allows permanent change to be more possible and for a lot of my players that starts with the club face. Here are the key steps for Matt to take in order to allow permanent change to show up on the course — where it matters most!

Steps to improvement

  1. Create a stronger grip at setup- the checkpoint for Matt is to have the “v” of the trail hand to line up more with his trail forearm. Most of you will also benefit from being able to see two knuckles of the top hand from address given its effect on controlling the tendency of an open club face.
  2. Feel like pressure at address in the feet is more in the mid foot as opposed to towards the toes.
  3. Work an early extension drill (in the video) to create body awareness and new rotational feels with more ideal pressure shifts (Whenever doing a drill, start off slow and work your way up to speed and take advantage of your smart phone to measure your progress – feel and real are often two extremely different things. Finally, dedicate a portion of your practice to practice swings at 90% speed that incorporate portions of the change you are making and try to match those swings on a ball, this is ultimately the swing you want to take to the course because it has athleticism and incorporates your new pattern)
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Instruction

How-to Series: How to move your hips on the backswing

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Lucas Wald How To Series: How to move your hips on the backswing

This is the first installment in our How To Series — follow this plan to master the movements of the hips on the backswing!


Watch the series introduction here

This new series is all about helping you improve your golf swing quickly. We’re going to break the swing down into its component parts and give you specific practice direction — master these key elements of the swing and you’ll see improvement fast!

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How “long arms” at the top of the backswing can help you hit the ball farther

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One of the hardest things to do as we get older is to make a big shoulder turn with extended arms at the top. It’s the swing of a younger golfer! However, every one of us can add width at the top so we can hit it farther, but few know how to actually do so. In this article, I will use MySwing 3D Motion Analysis to help you understand how beneficial long arms are at the top.

As you examine the swing of this particular player, you will notice that the lead arm is “soft” and the hands are close to this player’s head at the top. This is the classic narrow armswing to the top that most older players employ. And as we all know this position leaves yardage in the bag!

Now let’s look at the data so we can see what is actually happening…

At the top you can see that the shoulders have turned 100 degrees which is more than enough, but the arms look jammed and narrow at the top. Why?

The answer lies within the actions of the rear arm, the lead arm is only REACTING to the over-bending of the rear elbow. As you can see at the top the rear elbow is bent 60 degrees. In a perfect world, when the rear elbow is at 90 degrees (a right angle) or more, the lead arm will be mostly straight — depending on how you’re built.

Something to note…in this position the hands are just past the chest and the shoulders have turned almost 90 degrees. However, when this player finished his backswing, he added 30 more degrees of rear elbow bend and only 11 more degrees of shoulder turn! What this means is that for the last quarter of the backswing, all this player did is allow the hands to basically collapse to the top of the backswing. This move is less than efficient and will cause major issues in your downswing sequencing, as well as, your transitional action.

As stated when your trail elbow stays at 90 degrees or wider in route to the top, you will have a much straighter lead arm.

One last thing to note when comparing these two players is that this player two had a shorter backswing length but a BIGGER shoulder turn with WIDER arms at the top, giving this player a short compact motion that resembles Adam Scott — which seems to work for he and Butch!

Therefore, the thing to remember is that if your lead arm is soft at the top and your arms look crowded at the top, then you must fix the over-bending of the rear elbow on the backswing. And if you have wider arms you will have a more solid “package” to become a ballstriking machine!

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