Golf is a difficult game.
It’s an intricate blend of power, precision, athleticism, finesse, and mental fortitude. It takes years (even decades) to master, and it’s impossible to perfect… however, one element that can level the playing field is putting.
Think about when you go to your local putt-putt course with friends, family, or your first date. Typically, there are no strokes given—everyone plays “straight up” and has a legitimate chance to compete. That is the unifying philosophy behind the Major Series of Putting (MSOP).
Last week, the best competitive putters in the world (outside of Tour professionals) ascended upon Las Vegas for their chance to take home one of several MSOP championship titles. Within the field were quality golfers with pure putting strokes, competitive mini golfers (yes, that’s a thing), and dozens of other golfers and non-golfers who have a knack for finding the bottom of the cup.
Throughout the year, you may have seen the MSOP wind blades surrounding the practice green of your local track. If the flags didn’t give it away, the hundred-or-so people grinding over short putts on the putting green would have been the next giveaway. The MSOP hosted several qualifier events and regional tournaments that all built up to the main event in Las Vegas.
The competitors were diverse, but the passion for putting was unanimous. That’s where TaylorMade came in.
We partnered up with MSOP because the competition is serious. The players are serious. They’re serious about winning and serious about getting better. Wherever golfers are competing to win and obsessing to improve is where we want to be.
SPIDER INTERACTIVE AT THE MSOP
One of our products is especially compelling for this group of avid putters: Spider Interactive.
It's far more advanced than the best putting aids. It goes well beyond the best putting mats. It's putting tips, putting aids, and in-depth putting stats all in one... think TrackMan for putting.
Through our partnership with Blast Motion and the analysis of hundreds of thousands of putts, we’ve discovered that the most elite putters have a secret recipe for pouring in putts…
A perfect, 2-to-1 stroke ratio.
Whether they have a long, flowing stroke or a short, punchy stroke, the best in the world maintain that ratio. And this remains the same whether you’re dealing with a 5-foot putt or a 50-foot putt.
Getting even more granular, the optimal 2-to-1 ration consists of a 0.6-second backswing and a 0.3-second forward swing—that is the ideal metric.
With Spider Interactive, golfers can capture, analyze, refine, and master their stroke using real-time data capture. Through the app experience, golfers can see their tempo, face rotation, loft change, and much more as they practice, which enables them to dial in their perfect stroke before they play.
"Spider Interactive combines Blast's sensor-based stroke metrics with the performance of Spider Tour in an easy-to-use mobile app that delivers real-time feedback to help you train smarter and get better. Blast Golf emphasizes Tempo and Timing to ensure a Square Face at impact. Based on gathering millions of swings from hundreds of Tour professionals, we have found that the ideal tempo is 2 to 1 with a backstroke time of .60 seconds and a forward stroke time of .30 seconds. With our sensor-based system, golfers are able to work toward achieving that perfect ratio and delivering that ratio with greater consistency."
— Chris Dunlap | Product Specialist, Blast Motion
To demonstrate this, we even had a stand set up at the event where competitors could test their stroke with Spider Interactive. And if they were able to achieve the perfect .6/.3 ratio, they would be entered to win a year supply of TP5/TP5x golf balls.
And wouldn’t you know it—last year’s MSOP Stroke Play champion nailed that optimal ratio on the dot.
A COMPETITOR’S PERSPECTIVE
At the 2018 MSOP Championships, there were several competitions going on, including a variety of singles and team events. And with TaylorMade involved as one of the primary sponsors of this year’s event, I was fortunate to receive a sponsor’s exemption to test my stroke against the field of competitive putters.
As I arrived in Las Vegas, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had watched some footage on YouTube from prior events and knew that I would be facing several touchy short putts (~7-15 feet) as well as a handful of long putts (~16-40 feet). I was set to play in the Singles Championship which comprised of four 18-hole rounds before a cut—with the final two rounds wrapping up the following day.
I entered this competition with tempered expectations. I’m a single-digit handicap golfer with a solid (yet unconventional) putting stroke… I felt like I could compete within the field of 76 putters, but I knew it would be a tall order to make the cut (top-20 and ties) and an even taller task to compete for the title. But regardless of the outcome, I was going to give it my all (just to see where I stacked up if nothing else).
I putted with Spider Interactive and had the added benefit of using the Blast Motion Sensor feature to dial in my tempo in my hotel room the night before the competition. During this practice session, I wasn’t focusing on anything except feeling that ideal 2-to-1 tempo, trying to get as close to .6/.3 as possible. Once I had that feeling (and verified it with the real-time data on my phone), I knew my stroke was locked in for the next day.
Once I arrived at The Legacy Golf Club, we were each assigned practice round tee times where we would have the chance to see the course setup for the first time and roll multiple balls to get an idea for the breaks and pace required for each hole. We were told the greens were rolling at about an 11 on the Stimp meter, that seemed about right as I blasted my first couple practice strokes past the cup—leaving tricky come-backers to save par (every hole is a Par 2).
I quickly realized that pace is everything. Even the short holes can get away from you if you get too aggressive. There was no question that you’ll need to make a lot of putts to advance, but the last thing you’d want is a three-putt on a short hole.
By the end of the practice round, I had a good feel for the speed of the course and the break tendencies of each hole which gave me the confidence I needed as Round 1 began…
And I came out firing.
I started birdie-birdie on the first two holes, making left-to-right breakers (a ball or two outside the hole).
Maybe I can win this thing!
Then the third hole came along… it was a ~20-foot uphill putt with some significant left-to-right break and a green the fell away after the hole.
You’re still 1-under. You’re fine.
Three holes later, another bogey. This time a brutal push/fan to the right.
This will be harder than I thought.
By the end of the first round, I was 2-under par. And based on the scores from the morning flight, I knew I would have to go low in Round 2 to catch the leaders at 11-under.
I ended up holing six putts en route to a 5-under 31.
By the time my Round 3 tee time came around, Flight 1 had already finished all four pre-cut rounds, and the cutline had moved to -16… I knew that I would need to average at least 5-under in each of my final two rounds to make the cut…
I got off to a slow start, parring my way through the first five holes before making birdie on 6 and 8. Then I closed out the front with a miserable bogey on the long (~35-foot) 9th hole… At this point, I glanced at the updated live scoring on the leaderboard and saw that the cutline had jumped to -18 under par…
I ended up posting rounds of 33 and 32 to finish at -14 under through four rounds. I was just 4 strokes off the cut, and in my head, I knew this was because of my 8 three-putts.
In the end, Aaron Crawford took home the $25,000 grand prize in the Stroke Play Championship. He posted an unbelievable -41 through six rounds to beat the field by four.
Ultimately, what I took away from this competition was that there are a lot of great putters out there with a lot of different strokes styles and playing backgrounds. However, regardless of your style or technique, if you can maintain a consistent stroke that is close to the golden 2/1 ratio, you can find success holing putts on the green.
Just avoid the three putts…
To learn more about Spider Interactive with Blast Motion technology, click HERE.
If you want to learn more about the MSOP, upcoming events, and more... click HERE.
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