Starting Anew with Zach Johnson's Putting Guru - Pat O'Brien, Towards a Simpler, Relexed Stroke and SeeMore Putters with RST - www.golfwrx.com - by SwingMan
post by SwingMan
Summary: I received a putting lesson from Pat O’Brien and learned about the SeeMore Putting RST System. Pat is the short game and putting instructor for PGA ProsZachJohnson and Vaughn Taylor. Pat promotes an unusual, yet relaxed and conventional grip with a free flowing stroke and a more upright and relaxed address position.
This article is for those who want to learn more about the details of Pat's Method and SeeMore Putters RST Technology - it is more than a short read. But I've attempted to make it an interesting read.
I learned about SeeMore's patented Rifle Scope Technology. I owned a SeeMore FGP in 1999 but did not realize all of the benefits of the RST.
How does the patented SeeMore Rifle Scope Techology (RST) work?
RST Consists of a red oval towards the heel of the putter head and two white line on the outside of the oval. The shaft is blackened towards the bottom so that it blocks the red oval when the putter is lined up correctly by the golfer. The idea is to line up and swing the putter without seeing the red oval.
According to SeeMore, RST works in several ways:
1. RST helps the golfer obtain a consistent setup and track a perfect, wide arc stroke. RST constantly remind the golfer that when the white lines are visible around the black bottom portion of the shaft, and the red dot is covered, that the putter is following the proper path.
2. If the golfer veers from this proper path, red will be visible even peripherally, and the golfer will be reminded of the proper wide arc pendulum stroke. With the RST, the golfer will gain confidence knowing that the putter is set up square to the intended target each time, when the white lines are visible and the red dot is not.
3. The golfer will also know that his hands are not too far forward or too far back -- red would be visible and the golfer would adjust.
4. Finally, the alignment system itself helps retrain the optics of any golfer who has a problem with alignment. With practice, the golfer will be able to more easily recognize when the clubface is square to the target.
While simple, the SeeMore RST alignment system provides key visual feedback indicators that will ensure that the putting stroke will not get too much out of whack before the golfer is able to self correct. No other putter has a similar putting system.
Second, Onto the lesson with Pat -- a simpler stroke with less moving parts.
To review the past, I’ve attempted a normal arc stroke (shoulder up, shoulder down), the claw grip, the saw grip, left hand low, the belly putter, SBST (Pelz), and for the last year, I’ve devoured the Stan Utley Style of Putting as detailed in his book, DVD and training aids. I experienced some success withUtley but concluded that without personal lessons from Stan, I was only going to have hot and cold streaks.
I’m one of those types who doesn’t believe you get the whole ball of wax from a book or a video. In the back of my mind, I don’t think that I can learn the putting guru's secrets for $89.95. I think you get maximum benefit from a private lesson whenever possible.
I’d heard about a short game instructor named Pat O’Brien for several years. People in the Dallas area raved about him. He lived right down the street and taught at The Practice Tee just north of Dallas. But I’d banged balls at the Practice Tee; they have a great setup at the Practice Tee, but they barely have a putting green at The Practice Tee. How could a guru teach at The Practice Tee?
I continued to hear Pat’s name in the media after Zach Johnson won the Masters earlier this year. Pat is also Vaughn Taylor’s instructor as well as instructor to LPGA Pros, other touring Pros among the various tours, and collegiate players.
A few weeks before, I had picked up a Seemore Putter (the milled FGP of Payne Stewart fame) and enjoyed the feel of the ball off the putter. I wanted to get the putter lengthened (for an Utley-like setup) and emailed Jim Grundberg, Managing Partner at SeeMore Putting Company about doing so. He suggested before I modified the putter to see Pat, since he taught in nearby Dallas. Jim said Utley was a fine guru, but Pat, after all, taught the Masters Champ and Vaughn Taylor, both ranked highly on the tour for their putting prowess.
I took Jim up on his offer and met with Pat at Lakewood Country Club in Dallas. Pat asked me about my history of putting and I marched through the litany. He smiled, shook his head knowingly and asked me to hit a few putts – long and short ones. Since I’d seen his video on the Seemore site (www.seemore.com), I had a head start – at least my left hand grip was correct. Pat explained that for the most part, we would work on grip, setup and address.
Grip For the grip (I am a right hander), Pat has the meaty heel of the left hand on top of the grip as if taking a normal grip on a club, withthe left thumb pointing down the center of the shaft. The right hand setup is a tad unusual – Pat called it a conventional claw - in that several of your left hand fingers are in the lifeline of the right palm – the result is that the fingers of both hands are the elements that interact with the grip and your right thumb is a little more than an inch resting below the left thumb and to the side. The left index finger overlaps the right hand's fingers. The middle three fingers of your left hand are resting in the lifeline of the right. Pat wants your big muscles – the hands, forearms, shoulders, etc., to be loose and free. In fact, he wants your body loose and free of tension. The grip feels as if the left hand is slightly more dominant and the right hand is along for the ride.
Stance and Address
Once I understand the grip, I assume my address position and Pat comments that I am directing my energies towards the ground. I laugh at the California Zen he humorously throws in. Pat lets me know that in my normal address position that I’m hunched over and cramped with my arms and hands close to the body – in other words, I am a typical golfer in that I have no freedom of movement!
Pat explains that putting greens in the past were not as smooth or short as today’s greens – golfers putted with a lot of wrist, and were bent over and cramped essentially due to the conditions. Still, putting instruction has not adjusted to the greens of today – which tend to run fast and true.
So Pat adjusts my posture to the setup he prefers – knees softly bent, back and head more upright, bending from the hips, arms away from the body, allowing me space between the putter and my body. I feel as if I am standing straight up but Pat takes my picture with his phone. Sure enough, I look good – my putting stance that is – To repeat this position, Pat says to take your grip with the putter and then pretend as if you were shaking hands with another person ---with the putter held horizontally to the ground; then allowing that position to remain the same, you bend until the putter is in the address position – if you’re like me, you are probably still too cramped to the ground – so lift yourself up and give yourself some room between the club and body. It feels different, doesn’t it? As Pat would say, “Direct your energy up, not into the ground.”
Pat takes a look at my address position and finds my eyes are over the ball. Pat prefers them to be inside the ball with your eyes in line with the putter – you need to feel tall and away from the ball while being relaxed. “Just feel the clubhead,” he asks me.
That is a tall feat for me, because while I have relaxed my death grip on the putter in recent years, I enjoy the security of feeling cramped over the putter. But it is not a “free enough” position. Your big muscles need relaxing and relaxed muscles feel the clubhead.
Like any new technique, it feels awkward at first – but after 15 more minutes, the stroke feels smoother. The stroke itself? Pat’s method is a shoulders around movement (in that way, Utley and Pat share an element) instead of the typical shoulder up/shoulder down Pelz or gated/arc stroke. The putter moves in response to your hands initiating the putter, the shoulders move in response to the hands so the putter makes a natural, gradual arc inside to square and releasing back to the inside. Your arms remain in a triangle.
After another 10 minutes, I am still jiggedy-jiggedy hesitant with the beginning of the stroke as I’ve lost the security blanket of feeling my arms against my body (you need space). Pat points out that I am artificially creating a smaller arc than he prefers (probably due to my past techniques). Pat wants a smaller arc and a wider stroke – he urges me to trust and free up the stroke, free up the stroke!
To make the stroke smoother at the beginning, I pick up the putter very slightly for a smooth take off and think wide to create a smaller arc and a longer stroke. After a few minutes, I am feeling comfortable but my right arm is no longer close to my side (and neither is my left arm) and I’m feeling as if I am no longer in control. My cramped feeling of security is gone! Pat explains that the putter is opening and closing to the arc perfectly. I admit, yes, I know my head is the problem.
After trusting Pat and his method, I can’t argue with the results. After an hour of instruction and putting, I feel as if I can control speed more accurately than with my previous styles of putting. The shoulders moving around you stroke feels more natural, agrees witha normal golf stroke, and creates better judgment with speed. I spend the next 2.5 hours on the green gaining comfort with everything that Pat has placed into my head. After sinking several sliders and curling 25 footers into a howling wind, I felt very comfortable and more importantly, confident, in converting to Pat’s methodology.
Book a Lesson
As I said in the beginning, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to gain the correct technique from a book or an article. You always make mistakes and then the golfer blames the method. It is not the method -- it is that you need a personal lesson. If you're coming through Dallas, plan ahead and call Pat -- if you look at the videos on the SeeMore Site and this article, you will have a head start. Schedule an hour with Pat and you will have the basics on which to build.
I want to thank Jim Grundberg, Managing Partner of SeeMore Putting Company, and Pat O’Brien, who also serves as a Consultant for SeeMore.
As to the SeeMore Putters, Pat was using the new stainless milled FGP – it is a very attractive finish. I must admit that I am enjoying my SeeMore mFGP -- the black milled blade has a soft yet lively feel with a tight roll. The tight roll surprised me -- I don't know if the slightly roughed milling helps get the ball rolling more quickly but it is reassuring. The mFGP not only differs from the normal FGP in that it is milled (in the USA) but the heel and toe flange are square instead of rounded. The mSeries mFGP is 333 grams while the cast (with milled face) FGP averages about 320g.
SeeMore also offers its milled putters in an Anser-type and Mallet Style – the m1 is a center shafted Anser style, while the m2 is heel shafted. The m3 is an attractive mallet. All putters have Seemore’s famous RST sighting system described above.
Each mSeries putter has a different cosmetic design on the face, some jewel-like, some with a more pronounced milling pattern, all precise to exact specifications within several 10,000ths of an inch - the highest in the industry according to SeeMore. I found that the mFGP has the more traditional rough milling while an m1 and m3 mallet that I saw at a store had the flat milled jewel-like face.
On the milled putters, the headweights on the mallets are 348g, and the blades of the m1 and m2 are 342g, and the mFGP is 333g.
With Pat's method, I find the weight of the mFGP at 333g perfectly fine -- Because the golfer stands a bit taller and slightly inside the ball with Pat O'Brien's putting method, you are usually working with an 1/2 to 1 inch longer putter than normal, which allows for a heavier swingweight. For example, my son is about 5'8' and grips to 34.5 on his mFGP. On the other hand, I am 6'0", like to have a little space at the top of the grip and go 35.5 inches.
SeeMore also has some of the best headcovers in the business – black ostrich, brown crocodile, orange weave, brown leather and traditional black with SeeMore inspired designs. (https://www.seemore.com/store/Scripts/prodList.asp?idCategory=6) SeeMore offers their putters at lengths from 33 to 36.5 inches in ½ inch increments and three standard lie angles at 68, 70 and 72 degrees. They also offer belly versions of the m1 and m3 putters from 41 to 45 inches.