College Tournaments

These are some of Tim Holman’s notes from those tournaments - US OPEN qualifier Pasatiempo May 1993

Brian and I walked all 36 holes in the poring rain, then had lunch with Notah and Mark , his friend and caddie. Notah rolled his ball well for first big tournament as a Switch Putter. We were very impressed with his commitment to being a Switch Putter. He didn’t chisel or fudge on the slight breakers, which is what some new Switch Putters have a tendency to do. They will favor their more experienced stroke and not follow the theory.  Learning to trust the theory is the most important first playing lesson. He passed this lesson with flying colors. His only difficulties came from being overly spot oriented. Some putters use a particular spot on the green to help aim the putter. They then attempt to roll the ball over that spot. The player must identify to the brain what the ultimate target is to be, which is the hole. You can hit your spot and miss the hole; you can also miss your spot and make the putt. Use your spot as a method of aligning your putter blade, but give your main focus to visualizing your ball entering the hole with the proper pace.

Stanford golf course-March 1994-54 holes- rained 2nd day. Notah putted beautifully left-handed. He made a 15 foot lefty on the 18th green in front of all the coaches. If they were wondering why he was putting left-handed, he gave them the answer to their question. It was because he makes a higher percentage of left to right putts left-handed and his misses’ end up closer to the hole. Notah said; “I knew I was going to make the putt on eighteen”. My reply; “that’s what SWITCH PUTTING is all about” CONFIDENCE.  He is starting to develop tremendous confidence from having the proper technique.

His only major problem was with his right-hand stroke. Notah used to have a very strong forward press in his right-handed stroke. Just before taking his backstroke he would move his hands forward approximately eight inches in front of the ball. The result of this exaggerated forward press is a putter face with negative loft. Notah`s right-handed stroke was driving his ball into the ground, causing the ball to bounce. This was causing the majority of his right-handed putts to come up short, especially on the rain soaked greens the second day. At the time, he was a believer in the “die it into the hole” school of putting. We are believers in the “get it to the hole” school. The entire Stanford team left too many putts short of the hole. By trying to die the ball in the hole, a perfect putt will barely reach the cup. Any slight miss hit, poor stroke, or bad bounce, will result in a putt that will finish short of the hole. Most of us play golf outdoors on imperfect putting surfaces. Putts will have a tendency to bounce into the air during their journey to the cup. Each successive bounce adversely affects the balls chances of reaching the cup. This is one of the reasons Dave Pelz recommends putting your ball 17 inches past the hole.

I knew we were making an impression when Notah turned to me and said “is that what you want” after rolling his twenty foot uphill putt two feet past the hole. “Exactly” was my reply. If the putt had been on line it would have gone in the hole. He and the entire Stanford golf team had been leaving too many putts short of the hole.

One of the main conclusions we had after our switch putting test of the Stanford golf team was that the players left way too many putts short of the hole. Approximately 1/3rd of all their putts came up short of the hole. To have a chance to make the maximum amount of putts on a daily basis, all putts must reach the cup. especially the uphill putts. Our recommendations for achieving the goal of all putts reaching the hole was to abandon his forward press, or to at least diminish the amount of forward press in his right-handed stroke. His left-handed stroke was, and still is, just about perfect. If we could get him to mirror his left-handed stroke with his right-handed stroke we would be very happy. Notah on the other hand felt his forward press was an integral component of his right-handed stroke. After going back and forth for the next few weeks, Brian finally gave up arguing with Notah and told him if he would`t change he would never be as good of right-handed putter as Brian the thirty handicapper. Logic couldn’t change him, but the thought of not being able to out putt Brian the thirty handicapper accomplished the job. Notah gradually phased out his extreme forward press and within a couple months he shot the first of many record rounds, the finest round in NCAA Championship history. Notah shot a 10 under par 62 at Stonebridge golf course in McKinney Texas. The highlight of his round was making 9 birdie putts over 10 feet in length, including a 60 foot right-hander on the 18th hole.

During his pro career, his two strokes have closely resembled each other. Notah`s right-hand stroke has a slight amount of wrist action, where his left-handed stroke has little or no wrist action. Most right-handed switch putters develop the most beautiful arm and shoulder left-handed putting stroke. His perfect left-handed stroke is especially effective on the straight putts. This is where switch putters have 2 options. Most experienced switch putters have a tendency to favor their lefty stroke on the essentially straight putts. All new switch putters start out favoring their more experienced right-handed putting stroke, but almost all end up putting the straight putts left-handed.

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