COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Weizer attached a small, nearly weightless Bluetooth communication device to the shaft of my putter. “It deadens the feel slightly but doesn’t change anything dynamically,” he said as I took a few practice putts on the indoor Club Champion putting booth carpet to check the gadget’s alignment the putter face. “I try to square it up as much as I can.”
Next up: Getting the main SAM unit and putter aligned, which involves a small aluminum block set on the spot where my putter would impact the ball. I settled into my set-up and braced the club’s face against the block; Weizer turned on the communication device. “I’ll do a quick calibration to let SAM know we’re here.” He moved the block back to “let everyone know we’re pretty much on line.”
Four or five test rolls later and we were ready to go. As I stood there with that Bettinardi blade — full offset plumber’s neck hosel, 35-inch steel shaft, Fat Cat grip turned “vertical” to accommodate left-hand low grip — Weizer asked where I was with my stroke.
“I’ve been working on keeping my hands higher and my elbows in,” I replied.
“OK, sounds good. Let’s see what SAM thinks of your stroke. What we’ll do is hit a series of putts — seven to be exact — right off that little black dot [on the putting surface, aligned with the SAM lens]. The hole doesn’t really matter at this point; we’re really just focusing on that stroke. We’ll get really good data and go over some of the details.”
The whole “hole doesn’t matter” thing is a strange concept to me. Ask most any golfer and I’d venture they’d agree with me — most any rank-and-file golfer, that is. But ask a Tour pro or low handicapper and I now know they’re probably in SAM’s corner.
In other words, it’s the stroke, stupid.
Of course it is. Simple, right? Yes, but there’s yet another somewhat surprising detail in how SAM does its magic: It’s based on a straight-back and straight-through stroke that most of us don’t (or don’t want to) achieve. “It just assumes that straight stroke, though almost everyone opens and closes the face,” Weizer said. “But the calculations are valid.”