Golf Tips Newsletter - Issue 389 - Wed. February 17th, 2016
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In This Issue

Tom's Featured Tip: Q&A Face Balanced Putter
Tour Greens: Tour Quality Synthetic Greens
Tom's Bonus Tip: Mental Tip - Playing To Win
Lesson Comments: What Students Have To Say
Sponsors: Plum Creek Driving Range 
Batavia Country Club
Tour Greens Western New York 
Genesee Community College Golf Management Program 

Click here:  INDOOR GOLF LESSONS  for details on how to improve your game over the winter.

Check out Plum Creek's Simulator Course Play Specials: Call 585-993-0930 or email Mark at to reserve your simulator time!

Buy Gift Certificates for Lessons   Sample Gift Certificate

Golf lessons - Outdoor and Indoor - are available at Plum Creek, please call me at 716 474 3005, email me at, or visit my website at   for details.

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Tom's Featured Tip: Q&A Face Balanced Putter

For simplicity, all advice on actual swings or drills is provided from a right handed perspective.

Eric B., a long time student of mine and a student of the game in general, emailed the following question. I would imagine it's in other people's minds due to a lot of incorrect information that is propagated on this subject, so thanks for the question Eric. I will say ahead of time that the balance of the face is one contributor to better putting as is: posture, getting the correct length, lie, loft, weighting, and grip size/feel for your putter of choice.

Q: Just curious....but I would think a "face balanced" putter would be best for a straight back, straight through putting stroke. Why is toe up better?

A: That's a common misconception Eric. Probably due to the fact that a face balanced putter is easier to square up at impact than a toe hang putter, it has mistakenly been crowned as the king for the straight back - straight through stroke.

But it's not.

It's better than a toe hang putter for squaring the face at impact because it opens less throughout the stroke, but the real king for keeping the face square throughout the stroke would be a toe up balanced putter. It's also know an a heel hang putter, or a positive balanced putter. I suppose you could accurately call them face balanced at impact putters, but I've never seen them described that way. Probably too many words to market.

In fact, the majority of information presented on this subject does not recognize what I'm going to explain to you below.

Even my trusty Odyssey Two Ball putter has an open face bias at impact, which requites some motion on my part to make it, or keep it square through impact with a straight back - straight through stroke. (Dave Pelz, renowned putting guru, favors this type of stroke as the most efficient technique.)

Although a straight back - straight through style is sometimes called a pendulum stroke, that's not quite accurate. The idea is merely to mimic a pendulum's even rhythm while swinging the putter back and through in a fairly straight line. This way, the face of the putter remains square to the intended line of the stroke in order to help minimize problems with aimline accuracy.

Even with a pure straight back - straight through style, most face balanced putters want to open at impact.

If you have a face balanced putter you can prove this to yourself. All you need is two tees and your putter.
  1. Stick one tee in the hole in your grip so that you can hold the putter straight up and down in front of you while holding it by the tee with the face square to your aimline.

  2. Now hold the top of the putter in place while shoving the shaft outward towards your setup lie angle of about 70 degrees, to a point where the putter head would lie flat on the ground. Shove it outward by pushing it gently about halfway down the shaft with the side of the other tee, not your finger. This way you will not inhibit any shaft rotation.

  3. Heres a video demonstration of this test with a SeeMore putter. I didn't mention SeeMore putters in the toe up balanced group because they are a face balanced at impact due largely to their center shafted or near center shafted construction . My own testing has shown more face twisting on an off center strike with a center shafted putter than with a heel shafted putter. Zach Johnson does pretty well with that brand putter on tour, but not many pro's use them compared to heel shafted mallets and blades. I also don't like my eye getting used to seeing a strike that close to the shaft entry point. I think that the visualization of that contact point could carry over to full swings with other clubs. That might sound odd, but I truly believe it could happen.
What you will see in your test is the face opening as the clubhead extends outward, away from the top of the shaft.

This shows that the clubface has a tendency to be open at impact.

I did this test with my trusty Odyssey Two Ball putter and it opened shockingly fast as soon as I started pushing the shaft outward with the tee. The speed the face opened was influenced by the fact that I've added quite a bit of weight to my putterhead to suit my personal preferences. I tried the test with an off the shelf two ball putter and it opened less abruptly and less overall, but it did open.

The reason this happens is that the center of mass of the putter swinging on a tilt is not the same location as when the putter shaft is balanced on the finger level with the ground to "see what sort of balancing the putter head has". Finger balancing and the balancing during the swing are simply not the same, and what you want to know about is what are the balance physics and face angle effects during a stroke, not when the putter shaft is poised on your finger during the common test for face balance.

According to Geoff Magnum, an expert that I hold in high regard: "Face-balanced putters and toe-hanging putters differ only in degree, not in kind. Both designs tend to make the toe flare open in the backstroke, out of the stroke plane, and not simply out of the target plane. The toe-hanging putter has a greater tendency to do this, inherent in the more severe physics of the mass imbalance, but a "face balanced" putter also does this to a lesser degree. This is a physics reality."

Full toe hang and moderate toe hang putters will open more than a face balanced putter during the swing, and an arcing putting stroke will open the face more and faster than a straight back - straight through stroke. But regardless of stroke style or face or toe drop balancing, the putterface needs to be rotated to some degree to present it square at impact. Either that or it needs to be manipulated during the entire stroke to maintain it's squareness to your swing path.

I practice taking the clubface back perfectly square to my stroke path and presenting it perfectly square at impact by making deliberate strokes into the back of a 2"x4" so I feel and see the face perfectly square with the back of the board at impact. The two ball images on the top of the clubhead are also very helpful in visualizing squareness. I'm sure I manipulate the clubface with my hands during my stroke practice and play, but so what?

I often hear opponents of the straight back - straight through stroke put it down because they claim that there has to be clubface manipulation to make it work. Well here's a revelation for those folks: there are plenty of situations in golf where the clubhead has to be manipulated to obtain a certain result, for example when you are trying to alter trajectory or curvature on full swings. You can make these changes happen with or without clubface manipulation, and both options exist.

For the putting stroke, the manipulation is simple and less complicated. You just practice stroke motions that present the face square to the ball at impact, or that keep it square to your stroke path throughout the whole stroke motion. Like gentle strokes into the back of a 2"x4" with a golf ball sized circle drawn near the edge.

Simple doesn't always mean easy, but it is easy to practice, and with enough of it you can be great at it.

Up until now, the vast majority of putters came in face balanced, or some degree of toe drop balanced heads. There are a few heel drop balanced putters on the market ( I own two, no surprise there), but to be honest they are so weird looking to the eye that I never got comfortable using any of them. They are mostly called heel drop or positive balanced putters, which I'm sure is why Callaway/Odyssey are using the words Toe Up - to differentiate. Geoff Magnum called these types of putters "heel hanging".

The toe up model that I saw from Callaway/Odyssey looked great. And of the three balance choices: toe down, face balanced, and toe up, the toe up option virtually eliminates any clubface opening on the backstroke. With good stroke technique, it will help to present a square clubface at impact.

From a pure physics standpoint, it is the best option to maintain clubface squareness to your stroke path line.

And that's why I'm pumped - I really think it offers a major opportunity for better putting accuracy, regardless of whether you favor a PILS straight back - straight through putting style or an arcing style.

I can't wait to get my hands on one!


Love your practice, own your swing, own your health,


Tour Greens: Tour Quality Synthetic Greens For Superb Short Game Practice

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If the thought of having a beautiful tour quality practice green in your yard appeals to you, you're in luck.

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With Tour Greens you can experience the ultimate home short game practice solution.

Click here to read what Tour Pro's Fred Couples, Rich Beem, Boo Weekly, Blake Adams, and Chris DiMarco  have to say about their Tour Greens.

You all know me well enough to know that I don't affiliate with any product that I don't have a passionate belief in. These greens are the real deal. They are extremely durable - and they LOVE Western New York weather!

For more information please click here:, or feel free to call, text, or email me to discuss your needs.


Love your practice, own your swing, own your health,


Tom's Bonus Tip: Mental Tip - Playing To Win

For simplicity, all advice on actual swings or drills is provided from a right handed perspective.

I've mentioned before that I coach one professional player, Chris Carroll, who was the Head Pro at the Rothlands Golf Course for the last couple of years. This year, Chris has made changes to actively pursue his goal of playing on the PGA Tour.

He registered for the Canadian PGA Tour Q School, and is waiting to hear if he can get into this year's spring school. His "Plan B" is to play in Monday qualifiers, because they hold about 8 spots open for Monday qualifiers.

We recently discussed "playing to win" at these events, rather than "playing not to lose". The football analogy would be to continue blitzing with two minutes to play rather than dropping back into a prevent defense.

When you play not lose, you are in a conservative mode. You are protecting a score as well as your ego. When you play not to lose, you are typically playing scared in that you are afraid of making a mistake. Ironically, when you play not to lose, you will most likely make more mistakes and ruin your round.

So Chris and I agreed that his mindset for these qualifiers, and for any event he gets into, will be to play aggressively to win. For him the risk reward ratio should be positive because his short game is impeccable,

So here are a few mental game recommendations to help you to play to win:
  1. Stop worrying about your score. Once you focus on your score, you will begin to protect a good one. Instead, focus on hitting great golf shots and let the score happen.

  2. Take your ego out of the equation. You are not defined by your score and what you shoot, so stop protecting your ego on the course and you will begin to play to win.

  3. Play with nothing to lose. This is similar to the range mentality of thinking. On the range, you have nothing to lose, so you swing freely. Learn to take this mentality and your great range swings to the golf course.

  4. Make sure that you don't confuse "aggressively" with "recklessly". If you haven't practiced the shot, don't take it. If you are not 80% sure you can pull it off, don't take it.

  5. Never stop working on your short game. You will need to be able to rescue an aggressive play that went wrong with a 65% up and down rate. Get great, not good, at it.
If this shoe fits, don't be afraid to wear it.


Love your practice, own your swing, own your health,


Golf Lessons

I conduct lessons at The Plum Creek Driving Range & Practice Facility
there's a link for Plum Creek info here:

Lessons are available for all ages and skill levels, please contact
me - Tom Tucker - at (716) 474 3005 or email me at
for more information.

Outdoor Lessons Details and Rates:

Indoor Lessons Details and Rates:

Driver Fitting Rates:



Plum Creek Driving Range and Simulator  Outdoor range and play indoor golf on any of our 40 Simulator Courses. Call 585-993-0930 or email Mark at to reserve time for simulator play or practice!

Batavia Country Club   Great rates, the best greens in WNY. Golf Digest Four Star rating for public courses to play in New York State. Tee times online or by phone in season. Early deep discount membership deadline has expired, but great discounts are still available until April 1st. The earlier you pay the larger the discount. Check website for specific rates then call or stop in to purchase your 2016 membership.  (585) 343-7600

Tour Greens Western New York  Practice with purpose in your own back yard on your own synthetic practice green. Our greens LOVE Western New York weather!

Genesee Community College Golf Management Program   Click on link for more information if you or anyone you know is interested in a dynamic career in the golf industry, or in teaching golf.

All the best,

Tom Tucker
Teaching Pro, Plum Creek Driving Range & Practice Facility
WGTF ' "Top 100 Golf Teacher"
USGTF Class "A" Teaching Professional
Cell: (716) 474-3005

"There are no substitutes in the quest for perfection!"
~ Ben Hogan