The Rubik's Cube

If you have ever tried to solve one of these maddening, colorful boxes, you know that there is a right and wrong way to go about things. Take a few too many wrong turns and your mood can swing from optimism to frustration and confusion. However, there is in fact a process to solving this riddle.

Much like the Rubik’s cube, there is a process for making better swings or hitting more solid putts. And just like the Rubik’s cube, none of those changes happen in complete isolation. Each turn of the cube affects another side because each movement impacts what is happening around it. The same concept applies to putting and this SAM PuttLab case study demonstrates that point.

Trevor’s Case Study

For each of my students, I observe a handful of putts and take some notes before filming or collecting SAM PuttLab data. My immediate observations when looking at Trevor’s putting included his forward press and scattered results for the few six to ten footers he hit. The set-up, grip, and rhythm all seemed conventional and our initial conversation didn’t reveal anything noteworthy besides missing his start line and needing to make more putts.

The Report

His first SAM PuttLab measurement revealed information close to what I expected to find from a player that had “common” complaints about their putting. Between the scattered aim and no indicator that he knew the direction of the putter face at impact, this particular case was pretty open ended. Rather than just showing Trevor his struggle to aim the face, train a new awareness of square, and simply let him work out the face control, I felt there was a more effective approach. The real mission is finding out what in this player’s process or concept that is triggering this erratic behavior.

The Fix Is In

To solve a Rubik’s cube, you need to know where the pieces are located, how they interact, and be ever conscious of the big picture. When addressing aim issues, identifying the controlling factors like eye dominance, head and neck tilts, and body alignments are near the top of the list. However, Trevor did not exhibit any unusual tendencies that could have this dramatic an impact save one: his forward press.

By using SAM PuttLab’s new 3D software, I was able to see the big picture and measure the amount of forward press Trevor had at address on each stroke. In the photo below, you can see both the face aim and shaft lean at address varied considerably. You’ll also notice that the more Trevor leaned the shaft forward, it was easier for him to aim the putter closer to the target line.

After a discussion about the cause and effect of his issues, we used the Training mode to establish a consistent forward press and aim. Trevor was aware of the real time beam on SAM that indicates face aim prior to the stroke. He made note of what a slightly closed face at address looked like and how this new starting position immediately enhanced his ability to get his putts started closer to his target more often.

During this Training, I was ensuring that his launch conditions were sufficient, a main concern when a player has a forward press. Employing shaft lean without enough static loft can cause too low an initial launch with leads to bouncing and skidding.

The Results

When Trevor focused on a more consistent shaft lean at address, the dispersion of the face aim tightened up considerably. At first glance, one could say that the face aim isn’t great because he does not aim “close” to the target. However, the existing tendencies of his mechanics allow him to square the face at impact, a driving force behind his current success. Not only does the marked improvement in his consistency allow him better understand his stroke, but this session provided tangible keys that he can fall back on to produce better results more often.

The Wrap

When I conduct SAM PuttLab sessions, it is my priority to observe why the existing pieces work and, if an area needs to be changed, how it affects the other dynamic parts. Forcefully changing Trevor’s pattern to fit conventional wisdom of a square aim and face at impact could have been too big a change for him to take to the course or would have demanded an indefinite amount of practice.

Trevor’s results are a testament to being aware of a player’s environment on many levels beyond the just the numbers and a rigid stroke preference. Since this lesson, Trevor’s stroke has continued to evolve and he has successfully implemented AimPoint in his routine. The below video is just a sample of how the layers needed to be arranged to solve the Rubik’s cube.

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Preston Combs, PGA Teaching Professional

6034 Hollister Avenue

Goleta, CA 93107



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