The Fun Issue

Try This! Face-On Putting

Don't laugh. I've tried it all, and this is the best way to roll a golf ball

The Fun Issue: Face-On Putting

1. Grip it at the top with your left hand, and keep that fulcrum point constant. 2. Let your right arm hang, and add your right hand. I hook my forefinger around the grip. 3. The stroke is executed by moving your right arm where it joins the shoulder. 4. Lean a bit to your right to position your eyes directly over the ball. 5. The putter should stand vertically; don't make a forward press. 6. Move your right foot up, and set 90 percent of your weight there. Use your rear foot only for balance.

January 2011

I've forgotten more about bad putting than all the lousy putters in the firmament combined. My mind has been twisted into an incurable, disturbing venue of bad speed and inadequate line. I just want to go out and not feel like I'm putting a Rubik's Cube with a flimsy piece of rope. I'm nearsighted in my right eye, have glaucoma in my left, and the nerves in my hands are on Medicare. Basically, I'm on the wrong end of a short sale.

But epiphanies come when you least expect them. I was on a recent sabbatical and visiting the Insufferable Maladies Rest Home (name changed to protect the elderly) when I got involved in a raucous game of shuffleboard with the local clientele. They were slinging the puck down the slab with a grace and form that was downright elegant. They stood tall, faced the target and used a one-arm propulsion method designed for efficiency. There was no worrying about the stroke, whether it was down the line or arched or low to high. It was a natural movement in a convoluted world, and these people are the grandparents of the guys on the Champions Tour. I thought, There is hope!

I immediately went out and got a long (44-inch) putter, bent it upright to 10 degrees off perpendicular (the Rules say the shaft has sit at a minimum of 10 degrees to the ground) put my left hand on the grip with the thumb on the butt end. I let my right hand fall down the shaft until my arm was almost straight. I placed my feet, with my right foot several inches farther forward, on the inside of my target line (again, for Rules conformity) and then leaned to my right until my eyes were over the line. I took the putter back with no concern for where the putterhead was going and swung it like I was pitching a ball to the hole. I missed my first 4-footer 16 inches wide and seven feet long. Seriously, I couldn't believe how good it was. I knew I was on to something!

Let's get one thing straight. If you are going to make a change, don't go halfway. Make it with conviction and stick with your new idea. Ignore the scoffers. Remember, it is a law of nature that if something is different you're going to be taunted, jeered, and told the world is flat. Let the doubters fall off the edge.

Sam Snead

So here's what I discovered: The new world order is face-on putting, or FOP. It's math without numbers, light without a switch, Mel Gibson without anger management. What makes it so great? The simplicity: You move only your right arm (for righties), like you're rolling a ball to the target, with your eyes looking directly at the hole (not from the side, like in traditional putting). You can even look at the hole when you putt. Hey, we're making up new rules here.

FOP is not actually new, though we haven't had any original thoughts on it since Bob Duden introduced a form of the method in the 1960s and Sam Snead followed with his sidesaddle style a few years later. I played with Sam in the final group on Saturday at the 1979 Quad Cities Open, the year he shot a 67 and a 66 at age 67. His putting was a miraculous, mind-jarring thing to witness and became embedded deep within the folds of my cerebellum. K.J. Choi made the leap to FOP in the summer of 2010, albeit one that was aborted in mid-air. Nevertheless, I was committed to finding out all I could about it. In the words of Albert Einstein, "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." I had to dig deeper.

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