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cipher

Utley Putting Stroke, Taking The Putter Back

44 posts in this topic

I have read AOP a while ago, and to be honest I am not sure I understand how he is trying to describe taking the putter back?  Take a look at the image below of his takeaway.  Notice there is basically no shoulder movement.  He barely moves his hands back at all.  He describes elsewhere in the book about letting the "right elbow soften and fold close to your side" in the takeaway.  Is the right wrist hinging in this image, or is the right elbow folding in as he describes? What is he really doing to allow virtually no shoulder movement and very little movement of the hands backwards?

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This should hopefully help.

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Look at the right and left wrist hinge in the photos.  And that will answer your question.

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So he is folding the elbow slightly and hinging the wrists slightly, allowing for minimal shoulder movement.  In the video he talks about having his students take right handed and left handed swings only to see which is the better hand for putting.  I have often heard that you need to take the trailing arm/hand out of the swing.  This is why personally I started using double overlap grip to try and bring the leading hand more into the swing.  However from doing one handed puts, it is clear that my touch and control is mostly in my right hand.  Does anyone know what he would mean then by getting the weaker hand out of the way of the good hand from the video?

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Originally Posted by cipher

So he is folding the elbow slightly and hinging the wrists slightly, allowing for minimal shoulder movement.  In the video he talks about having his students take right handed and left handed swings only to see which is the better hand for putting.  I have often heard that you need to take the trailing arm/hand out of the swing.  This is why personally I started using double overlap grip to try and bring the leading hand more into the swing.  However from doing one handed puts, it is clear that my touch and control is mostly in my right hand.  Does anyone know what he would mean then by getting the weaker hand out of the way of the good hand from the video?

I remember when I was using Utley - I went to the Nelson and watched Sergio putt - he was using Utley as his putting guru at that time. His elbows bent almost imperceptibly.'

I abandoned Utley as I didn't want hinging/unhinging in a stroke that requires precision.

As to feel, most people I read tend to take the right hand out of the stroke. Most are attempting to take the right hand off the putter or reduce its roll.

I think softening the arms and hands give you feel. But good luck with your stroke.

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Originally Posted by Mr. Desmond

I abandoned Utley as I didn't want hinging/unhinging in a stroke that requires precision.

I wouldn't want those variables in my stroke either.

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Originally Posted by Beachcomber

I wouldn't want those variables in my stroke either.

Why are they variables? Or, perhaps better put, why are they more variable than whatever else you'd do in your putting motion?

I see a lot more people who are too stiff-wristed than the opposite. That's part of the reason double reverse overlap grips are used - with the wrists closer together their soft bending is more likely.

The wrist actions can greatly enhance your sense of touch and feel and allow you to make smaller, more precise strokes than trying to rock your shoulders. How much feel do you feel you have in your shoulders, exactly? You almost never see someone who is a "wristy" (Utley level, not the bad kind) putter try to "save" a putt by adding or subtracting speed just prior to or after impact.

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I would like to agree with icaas on this.  I have always tried to swing with my shoulders and use no wrist/elbow action at all, it just seems so unnatural.  The Utley method actually seems more relaxed and natural, if you use a compact stroke and the wrist action is as subtle as he shows it.  I am probably going to switch back to the reverse overlap as well, in the attempt to bring my better right hand back into feeling the stroke.

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Originally Posted by iacas

Why are they variables? Or, perhaps better put, why are they more variable than whatever else you'd do in your putting motion?

I see a lot more people who are too stiff-wristed than the opposite. That's part of the reason double reverse overlap grips are used - with the wrists closer together their soft bending is more likely.

The wrist actions can greatly enhance your sense of touch and feel and allow you to make smaller, more precise strokes than trying to rock your shoulders. How much feel do you feel you have in your shoulders, exactly? You almost never see someone who is a "wristy" (Utley level, not the bad kind) putter try to "save" a putt by adding or subtracting speed just prior to or after impact.

What feel is real in a putt?

I'm a Pat O'Brien advocate - neutral setup, everything square, no forward press, and a grip that has the right hand off the grip - it's wrapped around the left to an extent. I don't feel as if I'm rocking the shoulders - I feel as if I'm making a wide arc.

Utley does work for some ...

It all depends on what works for you.

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Originally Posted by Mr. Desmond

What feel is real in a putt?

I'm talking about "touch." Speed/distance control.

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Originally Posted by iacas

I'm talking about "touch." Speed/distance control.

I'll go with that and state that tension kills touch.

I think if one keeps the shoulders, arms, elbows and hands "soft", then one gains feel - I like to feel the putter through the fingers and do a "touch" exercise - I lift the thumbs off the grip and putt.

Utley and O'Brien are both tension-free advocates, as is Stockton (or any good putting instructor).

From memory -- with Utley, it's a very slight straightening/bending of the elbows - a mini-swing - the arms stay put (in front of the body). WIth Pat, the hands will move in a wider arc without hinging or elbow straightening/bending during the stroke.  But with both, everything is relaxed and tension free.

Pat wants you to keep moving slightly -feet, body, etc as you address the ball to remove tension. Once you're ready, it's one look and go.

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Originally Posted by Mr. Desmond

I think if one keeps the shoulders, arms, elbows and hands "soft", then one gains feel - I like to feel the putter through the fingers and do a "touch" exercise - I lift the thumbs off the grip and putt.

I think my point remains that you can't as easily adjust for touch mid-stroke when you're primarily using "locked" (but still soft) wrists and driving the stroke primarily through the shoulders. You might feel (late) "oh no, this is going to be short!" but you're often out of luck - it's too late.

That said, I don't use or advocate quite as much wrist as Utley - I'm just saying a little "float load" feeling isn't bad. I favor a bit more handle movement, a bit more shoulder movement than Utley.


Originally Posted by Mr. Desmond

From memory -- with Utley, it's a very slight straightening/bending of the elbows - a mini-swing - the arms stay put (in front of the body). WIth Pat, the hands will move in a wider arc without hinging or elbow straightening/bending during the stroke.  But with both, everything is relaxed and tension free.

He calls it a mini swing, but obviously any full swing would have shoulder rotation. :)

If Pat's method is on one end of the spectrum, Utley's is on the other end. If O'Brien is an 8.5 and Utley is a 1.5, I tend to favor a 4.5 - balanced, but leaning ever so slightly towards allowing a little wrist and elbow motion lest the swing be too controlled by the shoulders.

Even Rory (lots more handle motion than Utley would want) would sit at a 5.5 or so on my just-made-up scale, to give you another point of measurement:

Brandt Snedeker (not a great view, but you can see his wrists moving): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDK9wIY6hCM (might be a 5.5 on the backstroke and a 3.5 on the follow through).

Luke Donald: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PuGvZXNaUM (Probably about a 7 - three degrees of change, and it's a short putt).

The shorter the stroke the less you need, but the less of everything you need.

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Originally Posted by iacas

Luke Donald: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PuGvZXNaUM (Probably about a 7 - three degrees of change, and it's a short putt).

Interesting ... it appears as though he starts rotating his head towards his target when the putter is about a foot short of hitting the ball.  (Rory on the other hand keeps his head down until the ball has rolled a foot or two)

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Originally Posted by iacas

Why are they variables? Or, perhaps better put, why are they more variable than whatever else you'd do in your putting motion?

I see a lot more people who are too stiff-wristed than the opposite. That's part of the reason double reverse overlap grips are used - with the wrists closer together their soft bending is more likely.

The wrist actions can greatly enhance your sense of touch and feel and allow you to make smaller, more precise strokes than trying to rock your shoulders. How much feel do you feel you have in your shoulders, exactly? You almost never see someone who is a "wristy" (Utley level, not the bad kind) putter try to "save" a putt by adding or subtracting speed just prior to or after impact.

Putting is about confidence and feeling comfortable.  Everyone has their own stroke/signature.

But for me, when I used more of a wrist hinge in my stroke (all through high school and junior golf) I would tend to have trouble controlling the face through impact.  It would tend to open/close in relation to the path.  So while my distance control wasn't terribly effected, my ability to hit a line or an aimpoint spot was more difficult.

As I went to a more SBST pendulum setup/stance - incorporated a jumbo grip and increased the weight in the head of the putter.... Did I feel like I no longer needed to use wrist hinge.  Now I simply rock my shoulders, which is a very subtle move (big muscles controlling the stroke).  It's quite easy for me to do - especially when I focus on a steady head. The biggest trick for me was learning where to grip the putter (how far to let my hands drop from my torso).... And what type of arch to have in my back.  I wasn't bending over at the waist enough / lack of hip bend in my address setup.  But once I I've fixed some of those flaws with my setup, I can roll the rock well.

Now I just need to get out and practice my lag putting a little more.  Especially on some of the 3 and 4% slopes - downhill (30/60/90) - I just need to work on my distance control.  This isn't a flaw with my stroke... Or being able to hit an aimpoint...  Simply just a lack of practice on the speed control so I found that I was hitting some of my putts a little harder than required.

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Originally Posted by Beachcomber

But for me, when I used more of a wrist hinge in my stroke (all through high school and junior golf)

I won't mean this the way you're likely to take it: you were doing it wrong. Probably 99% of the people who say "wrist hinge" are doing it wrong. They're more "actively" using their wrists than the stroke I like.

Originally Posted by Beachcomber

Now I just need to get out and practice my lag putting a little more.  Especially on some of the 3 and 4% slopes - downhill (30/60/90) - I just need to work on my distance control.  This isn't a flaw with my stroke... Or being able to hit an aimpoint...  Simply just a lack of practice on the speed control so I found that I was hitting some of my putts a little harder than required.

In other words, you need to work on precisely the thing I said is inhibited by using more shoulders with "locked" (however soft you want, but unmoving) wrists? Is it just convenience that you've written it off entirely as "because I haven't practiced it?"

I think two things:

a) you're probably using your wrists more than you think already

b) you could probably stand to use them a little more, and not necessarily by "actively" using them.

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I think I need to get out of this thread. I've never really thought of putting as being so technical.  If I read too much more of this, I'm afraid I'm going to go out there thinking about wrists and shoulders and hinge and SBST and rocking shoulders and soft hands, etc, etc, etc.

I just want to make a smooth stroke and hit the ball where I'm aiming and at the correct speed.

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Quote:
The wrist actions can greatly enhance your sense of touch and feel and allow you to make smaller, more precise strokes than trying to rock your shoulders. How much feel do you feel you have in your shoulders, exactly? You almost never see someone who is a "wristy" (Utley level, not the bad kind) putter try to "save" a putt by adding or subtracting speed just prior to or after impact.

Personally i don't think about it much, not very high on my priorities for putting. I should really work on a consistent process, i've more of a read putt, hit putt. Don't really have any thoughts about how to start my putt, or what i am feeling through the motion, i just do. But if i had to guess, I'm probably in the middle of the pack, probably 4-5 range.

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Originally Posted by Golfingdad

I just want to make a smooth stroke and hit the ball where I'm aiming and at the correct speed.

So your SAM PuttLab analysis is taking place when...? :)

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