Golfers from all over the world come here to fix their putting woes with popular Tour coach Phil Kenyon
Forget putting on real greens. The artificial stuff is just as realistic, and even better when you can track every component of every putt using 2D and 3D technology. Just ask Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose or Tommy Fleetwood.
They all visited the Harold Swash Putting School of Excellence to warm up for The Open earlier this year by booking a lesson with its director, Phil Kenyon. It helps that the purpose-built facility is based at Formby Hall in Southport, less than five miles from Royal Birkdale.
But what you may not know is that the 650sqft indoor studio is equipped with the largest collection of putting coaching software in the UK. Zen Green Stage? Check. SAM PuttLab? You bet. They can even hook you up to something called Golf BioDynamics, which makes you look like an extra from Star Trek.
All the gadgets and gizmos cost a small fortune combined, but every one serves a purpose.
Zen Green Stage
The world's first computer controlled multi- contoured putting surface. Measuring 16ft in length, the adjustable platform comes with six cups and interchangeable USGA spec speed carpets, which can run up to 15.5 on the stimp. Built-in wifi connects to a phone or tablet so coaches can add uphill, downhill and side-to- side slopes of up to 12% in variation, including double-breaking putts.
Working in conjunction with Green Stage, PuttView (pictured below) shows you how to hole any breaking putt by calculating and projecting an accurate light path. Coaches can also take advantage of a sketch function by drawing graphics and instructions onto the putting surface.
Accurate to within 0.01 of a degree, this contraption uses ultrasound to track 28 parameters of the stroke, including clubface alignment, duration and rhythm. Instant graphical and numerical feedback is provided after every putt, which can then be compared against the average PGA Tour performance. 4 Quintic Ball Roll Used for fittings, instruction and R&D, this gizmo uses a 260 frames-per-second camera to measure the dynamics of the golf ball and putter head from set-up through to the rst 16 inches of the putt. Think TrackMan, for putting.
This 3D system uses an electromagnetic motion detector to track the orientation of the upper and lower body throughout the stroke. The results can identify any issues relating to posture, flexibility, stability, strength or power.
Forget chalk lines, Perfect Putter creates the perfect roll every time by highlighting the correct speed/line combination of any putt. Simply align the device to your intended start line, pre-set the distance of the putt, and then drop the ball from the Euler spiral (the bit which looks like a slide). It's the perfect tool for green reading and visualisation, plus it also doubles as a stimpmeter.
Mi Putting Template
The cheapest gadget but arguably the most effective. The template, which comes in four degrees of curvature (12, 15, 18 and 21), provides a visual representation of both the face and path by projecting the perfect arc.
Similar to SAM BalanceLab, this wireless pressure mat gauges centre of pressure, balance and weight distribution at set-up and during the stroke.
Four high-speed cameras capture set-up position and movement dynamics. The footage can be matched and viewed at different points in the stroke to highlight cause and effect.
Mike Kanski, Head Instructor, says;
Phil [Kenyon] coached eight of the 2016 European Ryder Cup team. Players like Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose and Matt Fitzpatrick have all been here, but Phil coaches a lot of players out on Tour. He coaches from this studio about twice a month, and a lot of players send messages on WhatsApp with videos of their strokes.
There's a three to four week waiting time for lessons. We are very busy, and we are open seven days a week, from 7am to 8pm. Chris Wood and Tommy Fleetwood are regular visitors, but we also coach all of the England amateur squads. Phil has had students from Australia, who travel specifically to come here. I've had pros from India and every week we have someone in who's travelled from somewhere in Europe.
We measure everything in the putting stroke; no stone is left unturned. If we think someone has got questionable acceleration in their stroke, we can set the Green Stage to an upslope and watch how they adjust and change their stroke. We can do the same with people who struggle to control their speed with downhill putts.
All the best putters are able to keep their forearms, elbows and wrists quiet. Small movements there will have big implications at the bottom end, and the Sam PuttLab can pick that up as well as any changes in grip and arm pressure.
A percentage of your practice needs to be dedicated to putting. And within that, time should be spent on improving the dynamics of your stroke, green reading and pace. If you can section your practice that way and have some measurable drills, you can then monitor and track any improvement.
For more information, visit www.haroldswashputting.co.uk