PuttingShark: ‘The MRI of your putting stroke’
Saturday, December 18, 2010
SAM and TOMI (pronounced Sam and Tommy) are brothers. Sort of.
These two putting analysis systems are perfect illustrations of the role of technology in modern golf. SAM (Science and Motion) and TOMI (The Optimal Motion Instructor) can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about your putting stroke.
For example, an $895 TOMI Pro unit can provide feedback on alignment at address, alignment at impact, path at impact, stroke and rotation, shaft angle, impact sport, speed at impact and stroke tempo.
SAM is even more sophisticated (and more costly).
Which brings me to today’s subject: the $379 PuttingShark. This self-contained unit accomplishes one thing that many training aids (and many teachers and coaches, for that matter) never accomplish. It simplifies the instruction process to such an extent that it is actually fun to practice with the device.
Just hook up the PuttingShark to a PC (at this point, it does not work with a Mac) and away you go. The package includes a 9-foot putting strip made of felt, an automated ball return and computer software that captures data from 65 different optical elements.
You putt with your own putter. PuttingShark even includes a putting game as part of the software.
Most amateurs have no clue where the putter head is going along the swing path. PuttingShark will show the swing path, as well as the angle of attack, and it will supply golfers with other information (such as face rotation and direction throughout the stroke, club speed and sweet-spot deviation) needed to build a repetitive stroke.
I have long believed the best putters are not those with the smoothest or prettiest strokes, but rather the ones who are able to repeat the same motion time after time.
In his prime, Gary Player jabbed at his putts like some master of the muni. But he stroked the ball every time on the same path with the same speed.
PuttingShark (www.puttingshark.com) is the brainchild of Jay Russo, managing director of P3ProSwing, a company whose swing analyzer/golf simulator has been around since 2003.
“I would always watch people putt at the proverbial coffee cup (on home or office floors),” Russo said, “and every time I would think there has to be a better way.
“Finally I did something about it. PuttingShark uses the same (optical) engine as P3ProSwing.
“No one seemed to know exactly what was happening with their putting stroke. PuttingShark is like the MRI of your putting stroke. It shows you what’s happening.”
I admire the efficiency of Russo’s vision. He took one simple concept and focused entirely on that task.
If you are playing in the U.S. Open, I recommend putting instruction from Pat O’Brien, Mike Shannon or Stan Utley. If you are playing in the championship of your street or neighborhood, I recommend PuttingShark.
Let’s get back to SAM and TOMI.
Because I often call myself JIMI (Just Imagine Missing It), my next great putting project is to improve my stroke and at the same time explain why SAM and TOMI have such a huge following among teaching pros and serious golfers.
Ever since men have played golf, there has been a fascination, if not a mania, about putting. Just ask Jay Russo.
“High handicappers, low handicappers, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “Everybody seems passionate about putting better, and I’m convinced PuttingShark will help.”