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"The Putting Bible" by Dave Pelz


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Picked up this book a week ago or so...lots of diagrams so don't let the thickness fool you.

I'm not sure I buy his opinions on the 'best' stroke for putting since I'm a firm believer of putting to be a completely personal swing (though i do utilize the pendulum to the best of my ability).

So far I've only gotten through 1/3 of the book and the thing I do like about it is that he's a tinkerer. He actually has concrete proof that a repeatable putting stroke doesn't necessarily provide the same result and that one ought to just do the best they can and accept the result. Does anyone find any faults to this experiment?
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I would like to look through the book and get what information that I could out of it. I don't think the straight back-straight through method sounds very natural to me. I am more of the Stan Utley school (open-square-closed). However, I would like to own this book just for all of the extra information that is contained.
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I'm not sure I buy his opinions on the 'best' stroke for putting since I'm a firm believer of putting to be a completely personal swing (though i do utilize the pendulum to the best of my ability).

That's me all the way.

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ok...so i got to the part where he says it should take 8 seconds to get from your pre putt routine to the actual stroke...absolutely asinine! I mean it'd be different if he had said something along the lines of HIM taking 8 seconds, but cmon, gimme a break - for everyone!?!? I would never make a putt if I had to consciously think of making it in 8 seconds. It better get better from here on out...otherwise I'm 'loaning' it to my coworker...and by loan I mean heave in his general direction
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I would never make a putt if I had to consciously think of making it in 8 seconds.

You don't "consciously" think of it, you simply build yourself a pre-shot routine that gets you from making your last practice stroke to making your actual practice stroke in about eight to ten seconds.

My pre-putt routine (abbreviated) is: a) stand behind the ball and make strokes while looking at target b) stand beside the ball and make strokes while looking at target c) put putter behind ball, set fee, look at target one last time, putt. Step C takes about 6-8 seconds depending on how long it takes me to set the putter square. This advice applies to chip and pitch shots, too, I believe, in his Short Game Bible. I'm not an advocate of his putting stroke, but this 8 second rule makes a little sense.
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You don't "consciously" think of it, you simply build yourself a pre-shot routine that gets you from making your last practice stroke to making your actual practice stroke in about eight to ten seconds.

Interesting - your pre putt routine is similar to mine. There's a minor difference in mine (which is why I can't subscribe to the 8 second rule).

a) line up ball on 'approximate' starting line b) stand behind ball and make strokes while looking at target GRADUATING from small ones to large ones until i find the happy medium given the distance I'm trying to roll the rock (sometimes i need to make 3 practice strokes, sometimes as much as 15 - but i promise I don't slow down play ). c) set the putter behind the ball with my right hand while lining up the aim line on the putter to the initial starting line from (a) d) set feet, place left hand on putter, take a peek at the hole one last time, and give it a whack. It's part (b) that won't allow me to always take 8 seconds - sometimes less, sometimes more. Am I making sense? Or am I still not really understanding what he means by 8 seconds (meaning - is it just step (d) i should try to get done in 8 seconds)?
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b) stand behind ball and make strokes while looking at target GRADUATING from small ones to large ones until i find the happy medium given the distance I'm trying to roll the rock (sometimes i need to make 3 practice strokes, sometimes as much as 15 - but i promise I don't slow down play

Yeah, step C and D should be done WITHIN eight seconds of B. You want to make the actual stroke as closely as possible to the practice strokes, he says. You have to putt before you "lose" the memory of the feel.

It may be the biggest reason why standing over a putt for a long time is a bad thing (the other contender being "more time to think bad thoughts").
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I've thought about getting his book(s), but there's something about him that doesn't quite sit well with me. He makes good points. He has a lot of data to back up his points, but to me it's almost too much over-analysis.

I mean, has Phil Mickelson really benefited that greatly from having Pelz work with him. When I first heard of that relationship coming about, I was concerned that the greatest short-game player on tour might lose some of his feel due to too much considerations for probabilities or circle graphs or whatever...
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I've thought about getting his book(s), but there's something about him that doesn't quite sit well with me. He makes good points. He has a lot of data to back up his points, but to me it's almost too much over-analysis.

I completely agree. I thought I was the only one who disliked Pelz.

How did he ever become the short game guru anyway? That's what I don't understand. Like you said - he makes good points and stuff, but I just never liked the vibe I got from him. I can't put my finger on it.
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Pelz is one of these people who seems to suffer because of his appearance - both looks, and the way he talks, etc. It's as if people see that big, uh, fat guy and hear the sort of "electrical engineer" way of approaching things, and they write him off.

He was good enough to be a competitive golfer at NCAA Division 1 level, though, and if he looked and sounded more like a golf pro, I think he'd get more respect.

Can't add anything to what's been said about his books. They are fantastic, laying out facts and giving evidence-based advice.

To me, Pelz is a bit like Bill James in baseball. Most people thought Bill James was a kook when he first started publishing his creative statistical approach to baseball, but now every scout and GM in baseball basically hangs on the Bill James stats and approach to evaluating ballplayers. I think that someday people will look at Pelz the same way, as someone who took a more analytical, non-golf pro's approach to the game, and contributed tremendously to teaching and our understanding of golf.
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How did he ever become the short game guru anyway? That's what I don't understand.

I think one of the Pelz "bible" books explains this.

The short answer is that he gained a reputation as a valuable advisor/teacher on putting and the short game in the 1980s. I'm pretty sure it was through a collaboration with Pelz that Tom Kite began carrying three wedges, and in this sense Pelz is linked to one of the major changes in the typical professional's golf bag and approach to the short game. Random thoughts on Pelz: I don't know if I'd call him a "guru." In the general connotation of that term, he's an anti-guru. He's not someone who sits in the lotus position chanting eternal truths bestowed upon him by some ethereal deity, while pilgrims sit at his feet writing them down. Unlike what most teachers do - at least the ones who publish instruction books, etc. - Pelz did not formulate his personal ideas about putting or the short game based on his personal playing experience, and then translate those ideas into a teaching method for pros. He did things the other way around. He spent years following tour pros around golf courses, charting their shots in notebooks. He didn't say "this is what makes a great wedge shot, do this!" He asked a question: "What makes golfers score well and win...what shots do they play, where do they land relative to the pin, etc." He learned that sometimes pros themselves didn't understand which shots were really the good ones and the bad ones, at least in terms of which shots helped them score. Everything was deduced. Decades of observing things in the field, generating hypotheses, then testing them in his various golf laboratory settings. One element of Pelz's teaching that differentiates him from most other teachers is that he has a quantitative approach. He doesn't just tell you "it's important to practice the short game." He tells you how many strokes you use per round, at any given handicap level, from various places on the course, and tells you very practical ways you can eliminate some of those strokes. He can tell you how many strokes you can expect to take from distance X if you lay up v. go for it, he can tell you how many putts you can should be making from Y feet if you want to be a single digit handicapper, etc. And he doesn't make the numbers up, he figures them out, and you can read the data yourself if you don't believe him. For years he worked primarily with tour pros, but he eventually learned that there were many average golfers willing to pay big money to learn from him, and he developed golf schools. His schools are probably unique in that, in addition to teaching, he uses them as laboratories to further test his ideas, etc. In short, I think the answer to how he became a recognized expert in golf is simply that he earned it, he worked for it.
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  • 2 months later...
My thoughts exactly, Big Lex. Most of the people who dislike Pelz (for whatever reason) don't seem to know his history with Kite, as well as Payne Stewart, Vijay, Lee Janzen, and Mickelson prior to their "official" association in the past two years. Pelz, through his Short Game Bible and his Golf Channel instructional videos, has helped my game more than any other.
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The main reason I enjoy Pelz' books is his use of scientific method.

The downside to his scientific method is that his conclusion is that anything you do repeatedly doesn't necessarily produce the same result (i.e.: you can hit a perfect putt and miss OR hit a bad putt and sink one...with the underlying truth that one should always put the best stroke on the ball and hope that it goes in or at least leaves you a make able one on the way back).

Almost makes me think I read 500 pages for nothing since I basically understood that when I was 10.
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The downside to his scientific method is that his conclusion is that anything you do repeatedly doesn't necessarily produce the same result (i.e.: you can hit a perfect putt and miss OR hit a bad putt and sink one...with the underlying truth that one should always put the best stroke on the ball and hope that it goes in or at least leaves you a make able one on the way back).

But don't you think that's one of the liberating parts of what he says. You could hit a perfect putt, yet still not make it because of the green conditions, the wind, a small indentation, etc. Even his putting robot couldn't make every putt, even after being set up perfectly.

If I can accept that I'm at the mercy of outside forces, it relieves some of the pressure. Sure, I'd like to make every putt, but it is just not reasonable. In an interview on Golf Channel, Brad Faxon (one the the best putters) said that he never worried about results, he only worried about what he could control, which was to put the best stroke on his putt that he could. He then accepted the outcome. I know, easier said than done, especially on those 6 footers that we all expect to make every time, but that tour pros, putting on near perfect greens, can only make around 75% of the time.
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But don't you think that's one of the liberating parts of what he says. You could hit a perfect putt, yet still not make it because of the green conditions, the wind, a small indentation, etc. Even his putting robot couldn't make every putt, even after being set up perfectly.

I guess I thought it was common knowledge and that it didn't need to be explained in a book the length of a Bible (literally). I mean this happens in ALL sports. Maybe more so in golf, but definitely happens in all sports - nothing is perfect and no two instances of conditions could ever be the same.

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No question Pelz can come across as the all-knowing, overly analytical engineer (reminds me in a way of Johnny Miller) and I don't think it's possible to faithfully follow his every direction and still play relaxed (fun) golf.

However, even if I don't adopt every one of his recommendations, I take his basic point to be that it's very helpful to develop a good repeatable routine so you don't have to think about more variables than necessary, and his book offers many suggestions and tips that are useful in "ingraining" things you want to be able to do without having to think about them every time so you can focus on the variables of each putt. Even if I don't really putt in a complately straight line swing, I find his tips useful and his book is a good read every so often to remind me of things I had forgotten.

That guru beard still has to go.
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No question Pelz can come across as the all-knowing, overly analytical engineer (reminds me in a way of Johnny Miller) and I don't think it's possible to faithfully follow his every direction and still play relaxed (fun) golf.

Its because of him that the only thing I can think of when setting up to putt is the 8-second rule.

PELLLZZZZZZ!!!!! C'mon guys, u remember Colbert's tiff with 'Rain'
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