Hold the Press

By Frank ThomasApril 17, 2010, 4:53 am

Frank –

My question concerns the desirability of using a forward press while setting up for the putting stroke. This has gotten a lot of attention recently due to Phil Mickelson’s work with Dave Stockton. I have read articles that the forward press facilitates getting the ball rolling with proper top spin. I seem to have a more consistent impact with a slight forward press, but I believe this has more to do with the forward leaning shaft angle helping to flatten and immobilize my left wrist.

Your comments?

Sincerely, Todd

Let me address Phil’s forward press when putting.

For those who are not familiar with this maneuver, let me describe it as a slight forward movement of the wrists and hands just before the start of the back stroke. The head of the putter is in position behind the ball but the loft of the putter is reduced slightly by this motion.

It is important that once this movement has been made that the putter, wrists, hands, arms and shoulders remain as one unit throughout the back and forward part of the stroke and for at least eight or more inches after impact. This will make a significant difference in building consistency into your putting stroke which is very important if you are to become a good or even a great putter.

As mentioned, the forward press will de-loft the putter by a degree or so but a well designed putter has a four degree loft, you will still have a positive loft at impact of two to three degrees. This is very important because the positive loft and the slight upward path of the head during impact will help in launching the ball out of the small depression in which it will inevitably sit. If this was not the case, and the ball is launched horizontally, it will pop-up out of the depression and do so differently each time, depending on the depth and size of the depression. This pop-up is often most noticeable on the longer putts, and adds to inconsistency on the green.

These small depressions, which we don’t often notice during the day, become very obvious in the evening when the sun is low and shining across the green surface and certainly after a lot of traffic.

We need to understand that every ball when struck correctly with a putter – with a positive loft – on or slightly below center of the ball will have some backspin (see what happens when a putt is hit). The amount of back-spin on the ball will be affected by the path of the putter head and it’s dynamic loft. The ball will also be launched, very slightly, off the green surface, and will then skid for short period followed by pure rolling.

People talk about getting the ball rolling with the proper top spin, which means rolling spin – not backspin or excessive forward spin. This is very difficult to do using a putter unless the loft is close to zero and path of the putter is upward by about 10 degrees above the horizontal, which is quite a feat because the ball is sitting on the green surface and not on a tee. Hitting the ball on the center with zero degrees of loft and a horizontal path will drive it into the edge of the depression and make it pop and/or skid.

If you have ever played pool you will notice the cushion is not at the height of the center of the ball but significantly above it. This is the same spot – i.e. opposite the percussion center – on the ball at which you need to strike the ball for it to have only rolling spin after impact. The only way this can happen is to hit the ball with significant negative loft, which will drive the ball into the ground.

Using the forward press is not very common on the tour but has helped a few players as a trigger to start the process of making the stroke – this is more psychological than mechanical in nature. In some cases – as you have mentioned, it will also set the position of the wrists to be held during the full stroke. In our putting studio – where we have seen and helped thousands of golfers of varying skills from beginners to pros – we recommend the forward press when a golfer is a little hesitant to start the stroke – i.e. as a trigger.

Hope this helps and provides a better understanding of the putting stroke and the forward press.


Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf. Thomas is chief technical advisor to GolfChannel.com. He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email letsbefrank@franklygolf.com

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.