Dear Friends,

The subjects of this newsletter are varied, but each can help you improve your game.

1) "The Quiet Eye" and the EOB Putting System: all a matter of focus

2) The Pelz "O-Ball" and a "do-it-yourself" alternative

3) Looking for a new swing? The "simple golf swing"--another alternative to consider

1) "The Quiet Eye" and the EOB Putting System: all a matter of focus

Recently a friend called Dr. Putt's attention to a January article in GOLF DIGEST about the "quiet eye." A University of Calgary kenesiologist performed a lab study of putting in which eye movements were measured.

study found that better players had the least eye movement while over the ball. In other words, focusing precisely on a single point while aiming and then on the point of contact while executing the stroke produced dramatically better results.

Friends of Dr. Putt have observed that this is an inherent part of the EOB putting system, to which Dr. Putt could only reply, "precisely!"

When one studies the putt while standing behind the ball, one should pick a precise point at which to aim. It may be a blade of grass on the edge of the hole on relatively straight putts or a spot beside the hole on breaking putts. If you have a line drawn on the ball, that is the point at which the line on the ball should be aimed.

One only steps up to the ball AFTER this aiming point has been determined. Then when you take that last look up at your target, you should look at that point for only a moment. You should not let the eyes wander around at various other possible points. It is ok to imagine the ball moving to that point as you shift your eyes look toward that point, but take a smooth path as you rotate your head to it. Do not let your eyes wander off the imagined path of the ball.

Then you focus your sight on either the back of the ball at the point of contact, or as Dr. Putt advocates, on a blade of grass about an inch behind the ball. Focusing on the blade of grass is better in Dr. Putt's opinion, because that point is still there after contact, whereas the ball is not. You should maintain your vision on that spot throughout the stroke all the way to posing at the end of the stroke. Only then do you look up. Or better yet, wait a count before looking up to see the results, but again rotate the head smoothly as you did when you took that last look at the target. You might note if the ball is rolling on the line you imagined, and if you have a line drawn on the ball, if it is wobbling (see the previous point in this newsletter).

So keeping steady or "quiet eyes," inherent in the EOB Putting system, is proven in lab tests to be associated with better putting. And this is something you can work on at home at any time of the year. Focusing on the steps in the process has the added benefit of keeping your mind occupied so that it does not let negative thoughts intrude.

2) The Pelz "O-Ball" and a do-it-yourself alternative

Dave Pelz, acclaimed putting guru, inventor, and promoter of a myriad of putting products, has introduced a ball that will help in aiming and striking a putt along the intended line: the "O-Ball."

You can see it introduced in the GOLF MAGAZINE "Wish List" a number of years ago. These are said to be high quality white balls with four parallel red lines around them, two just on either side of the equator of the ball, and two spread out on either end, appearing like large letter O's when viewed from the sides of the ball. You can Google the "Dave Pelz O-Ball" to find it online for purchase.

Their intended use is to help the player align the ball at the desired target and then see if the ball was struck squarely along that line by noting visual wobbles in the "O's" as the ball rolls.

The lines may also be used on the tee to help the player aim the ball at a desired target in the fairway or on the green for par threes.

Because the multiple lines make the ball appear somewhat like a range ball, the average player may be reluctant to use it in actual play. If it is a range ball, it is a very expensive one, retailing for about $10 for a pack of three. But it would at least be useful in practice.

Dr. Putt would suggest a much cheaper alternative. But a couple of Sharpie pens (either red or black), and simply inscribe a line all the way around the seam of your favorite ball. Most balls have a seam that can be readily find that provides a nice flat surface, and most balls today already have a arrow identifying where the line should be drawn. Playing with the same ball that you practice with is another advantage of doing it yourself.

Dr. Putt would add that a single line better helps in aiming the ball and you can still see it wobble--you really do not need those extra lines.

Marking a line on the ball has long been advocated by Dr. Putt. For more details, see the letter on this subject at the "Dear Dr. Putt" website.

3) Looking for a new swing? The ?simple golf swing? --? another alternative to consider

As avid readers may know, Dr. Putt enjoys looking at some of the many alternative golf swings on the market. He has reviewed the most highly marketed and well known alternative swing, Moe Norman's Single Plane Swing. Dr. Putt occasionally gets requests to review other swings, and usually they turn out to be mostly gimmick, spelled b-o-g-u-s.

Back in November David Nevogt asked Dr. Putt to review a swing he developed and is marketing as the "simple golf swing." He was nice enough to send Dr. Putt a copy to review and thoroughly test. Dr. Putt started working on it in late November and took it to the course early this year for the few times the weather would allow. Not being able to play much was actually a plus in testing because the swing is designed for the player who does not play on a daily basis and has little time for practice.

Nevogt is to be commended for not making outlandish claims in his advertising. He promises saving considerable strokes, but does not promise par golf for someone who is on the far side of 90.

So how does this swing measure up? First, the name is appropriate, because it IS a simple swing. He reduces the many variables in the swing to essentially one, what he calls timing and what others might call the rolling of the hands and forearms through the hitting area. Reducing variables certainly adds consistency to anyone's game.

Second, the swing is easy to learn. After reading the manual and studying the pictures for about an hour, Dr. Putt tried it at the range one evening at the end of a regular practice session just as it was getting dark. He had about time for ten shots. All were solid. If Dr. Putt were to characterize the feel one gets with this swing, it is that it provides amazingly solid ball contact with minimal effort in a very compact swing.

Third, the swing does not look terribly unconventional, so the player will not feel that she or he will look weird on the course. How one feel one looks is an issue for most of us insecure players on the course. It looks something like a three quarters swing to the casual observer.

How many strokes will it save you? For Dr. Putt, who infrequent play gives him a high single digit handicap, it saved a few strokes a round largely because of the more consistent contact. For a player in the double digits, the stroke will almost certainly produce greater savings.

Any caveats? Dr. Putt at first thought the swing produced some loss in distance. And indeed it does when compared to the best shots with a conventional or the Single Plane swing. But any loss in distance is compensated for by more consistent ball contact.

Dr. Putt did have to make some adjustments in ball position from what was suggested. Nevogt advises that the ball should stay very close to the center of the stance on all shots. Dr. Putt found that in order to make ball contact on the upswing for drives and long woods, the ball had to be moved further forward and to produce backspin for short clubs the ball had to be moved further back than Nevogt advocated. Of course this adds a second variable, and complicates things just a bit, but not too much.

Dr. Putt also found that the low hands position advocated did not work for him consistently. Frequently his arms would straighten out on the downswing, and without other compensating movements (which are eliminated in this swing) would produce heel hits. The easy thing to do was to raise the hands a little and stand a little further from the ball. This had the added advantage of slightly increasing the arc of the swing, which increases club head speed.

Having made the relatively minor adjustments, Dr. Putt is very happy with the ?simple swing.? He plans to use it for at least the first part of the 2004 season to see how low he can go with it.

Should you buy it for the advertised price of $47? The answer depends on a number of factors. If you are having trouble in breaking 100, most definitely. If you are having trouble breaking 90, yes. If you are having trouble breaking 80, it is not a bad idea, especially if you have limited time to practice. If you are consistently in the 70s and want to shoot par, only if you are adventuresome and want to try something different. If you hit your drives in the 250+ range consistently, you will probably not like the swing. If you are losing flexibility as you grow older, it is a great swing to consider, as it places much less stress on the spine and hips than a conventional swing.

You can learn more about this swing at its website:

For the record, Dr. Putt did not receive any compensation for this review. The only benefit was a copy of the e-book and some fun in trying it out.

Best regards,
Dr. Putt