Bruno's Blog

A Conversation With Dave Pelz PDF Print E-mail
Written by BRUNO   

Recently I was fortunate enough to sit down with Dave Pelz, one of the most

knowledgeable and respected people in all of Golf . . . especially when it

relates to the shortgame.We talked about belly putters, the USGA,

shortgame methods and his prize student and close friend Phil Mickelson.



LN: A few questions regarding the belly putter, What are your thoughts on

the belly putter, is it here to stay and what would cause you to recommend

the belly putter to one of your students?


DP: I have a little different take on it than most, to me the belly putter is not

new, I've been using the Belly Putter for the last 20 years in my schools.I

used them originally to demonstrate a pure pendulum stroke motion, you

cant brake your wrists, you can't hinge in the wrist joint if you use either

one of those long shafts. I use it in every one of my schools, and we

have every student putt with the long or Belly Putter to experience or

internalize the feel of what a putting stroke feels like when you don't hinge

your wrists.Wrist hinge is one of the two main problems in putting for most

golfers, the hinge supplies power to the muscles in the wrists, it works fine

on the practice green, but on the golf course when the pressure is on and

you have to make the putt, your muscles get tense and tight, the adrenaline

flows in the body and they might leave it short, the power is not correct.The

other thing is when you attach either the belly putter or long putter to your

body, now the shaft doesn't want to twist, the face doesn't want to turn due

to forearm rotation.The two main problems in putting are wrist hinge and

forearm rotation, because in every shot in golf to get power you rotate your

forearms through impact.As you release your forearms in putting, the face of

the putter head changes and when you eliminate that, you putt better.

20 years ago I started testing, and I have all of the data from over the

years, inside 10 feet if I have all of my students at the school test with the

belly putter, long putter or conventional . . . belly putter wins, they make

more putts inside of 10 feet.Even without training with the belly putter, they

make more putts.

In general, the long putts 40 to 60 feet, they putt worse because they don't

understand how hard to swing or how long to swing the pendulum to get the

same power as the hit . . . you take the hand action out of it, and you lose

power, so they leave those putts short.Looking at this over the years, maybe

5-10 percent of my students would change to the belly putter or long putter,

but our schools are a small percentage of golfers . . . not much impact was

felt until some kids grew up with belly putters or long putters.

Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson are now winning on tour, Keegan

Bradley winning the PGA gives (the belly putter) credibility . . . now 25 to

30 percent of our students are using the belly putter.I'm not promoting belly

putters or long putters, I'm promoting what I believe.I don't recommend

anybody buy one until they test, because some people actually putt worse

with them.In our testing we've actually seen people putt worse, more do

putt better, but it's not for everybody and I would say it's worth a try.

It's not going away, I've been doing it for 20 years, and now it's been proven

legitimate by the tour wins, it's here, it's gonna grow . . . long term it might

be a slightly easier way to putt.


LN: Do you see there being any issues (banning the belly/long putter)

coming up with the USGA?


DP: If it is an issue, I'm going to verbally abuse the USGA.As far as the pros

are concerned, I don't care what you do to the pros, you take the box

grooves away from the pros on their wedges, it doesn't affect them a bit . . .

they practice and get around it.It hurts the amateurs, I'm here to tell you at

my schools this year versus last year, the groove rule to the amateur is

serious.Pros use wedges 7-10 times per round, they miss 3 or 4 greens

and at the most they use their wedges 10 times in a round.Amateurs use

their wedges 17-25 times in a round, nearly every green amateurs hit is

with a wedge.The biggest question I get is how do I increase my backspin?

The USGA has now taken half of all of the possible spin away from amateurs,

I think that's a travesty . . . I think it's the worst decision.I like the USGA,

they're heart is in the right place but they misinterpreted what the changing

of the groove rule was going to do.It hurts the amateur, doesn't bother the

pro.They wanted to hurt the pro and they didn't want to bother the amateur,

they just got it backwards.If they take belly & long putters away from

amateurs they're going to decrease participation in the game by 10%.

They're are alot of golfers who have practiced and developed bad habits over

the years (that have the yips), now you give them a putter where they don't

use all of those bad habits and you get them back in the game again and

they are enthusiastic to play again.I'm not trying to make the game harder,

we don't need a ruling body that's making the game harder, we need a

ruling body that's going to preserve the game and let people enjoy it, it's

a wonderful game.I hope they don't ban long putters, I've got the data . . .

it helps alot of players.

LN: Phil had gone to the belly putter briefly, but has changed back to his

conventional length putter, what's your take on that, did he find that he

made more putts with his short putter?


DP: No, he made more putts with the long shaft on short putts, but it killed

him on his long putts because he has great touch, he's a great lag putter.

Instead of having 3-5 footers from 50 ft, he was leaving them 6-10 ft and

that's a big difference, that was hurting him.So he said it (using the belly

putter)has helped his stroke on the short putts.When he went back to the

regular putter, he's putting the long ones with his usual touch.I would

expect that he may switch back and forth a few times during his career. I

would say that half of all the tour players I see practicing with long putters

go back to there short putters because it (the belly putter) improves their

stroke mechanically on the short putts, but they retain the touch on the

longer putts.If you don't practice with it alot, your touch won't be very

good on the longer putts.The average first putt on the PGA Tour is 20

feet, that means half of them are longer than that, and you can't putt those

badly if your making your living playing golf.If you want to know a fact, most

amateurs can improve their score more by eliminating 3 putts than they can

by improving their short putts, they already putt the short ones reasonably

well, but they're terrible on the long ones.I was with Phil two weeks ago, and

we had our first session, and it was a great session and he's feeling better,

he's doing really well.


LN: How's he doing with the Psoriatic Arthritis condition?


DP: Well he's still on medication, and he's a year into it . . .  if he stops it,

he can't play at all.If he stays on his medication he can play and play pretty

well.Last year he didn't finish in the top two in the world like he has been in

previous years, but he's still a great player.He's not playing at the top of

his game, he's ranked somewhere around 15th in the world right now, he's

such a great player, has such great talent and he loves the game, I think

he'll have a good year.



Teacher and player discuss the game plan


LN: When you and Phil go to a major championship site, the process you and

Phil go through has been talked about often, what exactly is that process?


DP: I liken it best to the phrase you've heard before, "horses for courses".

Some players play really good on some courses and really poor on the

others, and the reason for that is not their bio rhythms.Bio rhythms can be a

factor but the main reason is that some golf courses attack you, they make

you chip off of really short grass with the grain against you, some courses

have really soft sand, some courses have almost no bunkers, some courses

have hard ground where you can hit the ball short of the green and get away

with it, other courses have disasters in front of every green.Every course

attacks golfers with their own personality, it's one of the great parts of our

game.It's not like bowling alleys, every golf course is different . . . every

hole is different. When you have Bermuda grass instead of bent grass . . .

you know Jack Nicklaus never won a golf tournament on Bermuda grass

in the south until he moved to Florida and lived there for 2 years, then he

started winning.He grew up in Ohio on Bent grass greens, went to Ohio

State and didn't win when he went south.He didn't know how to putt on

Bermuda, his green reading wasn't up to snuff until he learned.You have to

learn where to hit it and where not to hit it, and you have to learn how to hit

the shots that the course invites and treats hospitably.You can forget

practicing the week before that tournament - those shots that course doesn't

have, it's not going to test you on those, so what I'm trying to do is to get

Phil or any other player that I'm helping prepare for a major, I'm trying to

get him to understand and feel what the course is going to require out of

him, and then have a couple of weeks to practice, practice, practice those

shots.Phil plays Houston hitting the shots with the clubs he'll use at Augusta,

he won Houston (in 2011).He's changed his approach to playing the Houston

course (it's scheduled the week before The Masters), and Rees Jones and the

people in Houston have done a nice job of getting the greens fast and the

chipping areas short, so players can work on the shots that are required at

Augusta, and the players enjoy it.


LN: Is Phil driving it well enough now that he'll be able to compete and get

that U.S Open ?


DP: You know, I think he is . . . if he's feeling good, if his body will allow it.In

certain practice rounds and tournaments, I've seen him drive it the best of

his life, he is a good driver now . . . he's not hitting a significantly larger

number of fairways because fairways are narrower and he's hitting it longer,

but he is missing them by less, he's hitting 3 or 4 roughs per round within 6

feet of the fairway, those 4 shots used to be in the next fairway or deep in

the trees, so I really believe physically his golf swing is better than it's ever

been.I think his shortgame is better than ever, I can tell you this for a fact, I

was just with him for a week, his short game for the third week in January is

better than I've ever seen it. I was amazed, I didn't expect it because he has

an awful lot goin on.He's built some greens and some chipping areas in his

backyard, so he was sharper than I've ever seen him.I'm quite excited about

him just being off the charts good with his shortgame.


LN: Last year he finished runner up at the British Open, did you guys work

on any of those shots, he had never really had success out there?


DP: Yeah, I've been goin over with him since 2004 at Troon, where he lost

by a shot.We started to hit knock down shots and low bullets, and bump and

runs and putting from off the green, now he has a little 8 iron bump and

run.He's developed his game over the years, what I'm hoping is that he gets

to the British this year feeling really good because I think he really does

have a chance, I think he's a good enough all around player now to play in

the wind . . . let the wind blow.He's workin on it.


LN: What does the data show on chipping with one or two clubs, versus

chipping with multiple clubs?


DP: Phil plays with two, a 60 degree and his 64 degree and he basically uses

those two and goes back and forth between them based on the amount of

backspin he wants and based on the loft that chooses.He probably used the

60 degree more in 2011 than in 2010, he had heavily favored the 64 but

when they changed the grooves it didn't offer the same advantage on

backspin that it previously did, but he still uses it alot because of the loft and

the the high shots that he requires.He is a two club guy, we chip around and

play games in sessions and I use four clubs, and sometimes five or six..I use

all the way down to the 8iron, I put the 8 iron back in my stance and it has

the loft of a 6 iron, and that's the way I teach. I teach using multiple clubs

and the truth is that he beats me.He is the best in the world and I'm not, so

I start with that disadvantage and try to compete with him.He is a great guy

and is great for the game.He's had a tough year with the health issues in the

family and then he comes down with psoriatic arthritis, (ironically Dave's

longtime friend Bob Murphy just happens to walk by, and Pelz is somewhat

distracted, citing that Murphy hasn't played competitively since being

diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis - just so happens I met Murph about an

hour before the interview with Dave Pelz and he agreed to a future

interview).If Phil stops taking his medicine, he can't get out of bed . . . it's

like an awful case of gout where your body's immune system attacks the

cartilage in the connections to the joints, he's had a tough time, but you will

never hear him say anything, whenever you ask him, he'll say "I'm fine it

has no affect on me". . . I'm telling you it's been tough, but I don't want to

make excuses for him, he'll be fine, he still has a great life.If he plays no

better than he has in the past year and a half that he's been on medication,

he'll still be the 15th best golfer in the world, and some players will never

play that well but he's still trying to get back to the top.I hope that Tiger

Woods regains his form, I hope Phil beats him head on, because what I saw

from Phil's shortgame earlier this year makes me think he can do it.


LN: Back to the previous question, does the data show that the average guy

benefits from chipping with multiple clubs as opposed to one.


DP: With no practice it almost doesn't matter, but if you practice a little bit

there is no question that people will do better with one club because there is

less to learn, it's tougher but there is less to learn.If you practice alot, I can't

tell you which is better, but I like to take advantage of the physical

advantage, Phil likes to take advantage of the mental and touch advantage,

because he puts all of his practice into two clubs, I spread mine out to five. I

still think I could beat him if I had the same talent and practice, but I

haven't proven that yet.


LN: What's new for you in 2012?


DP: I have been writing a book, Dave Pelz's Putting Games - it will be out

late summer early fall, it's published by Gotham.The tag line will be, "the

more you play, the better you'll putt".That means the more you play the

putting games during the week, the better you'll putt on the weekends . .

. that's what I'm trying to get the golfers to do because you can't

believe how many golfers say, "Dave how can I improve my putting"?I tell

them 10 ways and they don't have time to do any of them.I have games that

are 12 strokes a game, if you have time to hit 12 putts every night at

home.People don't have time to drive to the course, the wife, the kids, the

job are part of our daily routine.For people who can take a few minutes, 10

minutes a night . . . now you go the golf course on the weekend, you warm

up and play better and it changes the whole deal.Most golfers when they get

to the course on the weekend want to practice because they know if they

practice they're gonna play better . . . just playing doesn't make you a better

golfer.I have these games that have actual purposes and that's what I'm

writing about, and that's the book, it'll be out later this year:Dave Pelz's

Putting Games.


Thanks to Dave Pelz





Jeff Stein's World of Golf PDF Print E-mail
Written by BRUNO   



Jeff Stein (right) shown here at the long uphilll par 3 seventh (where he striped his 3 wood to 10 feet)                      A Molliner Photo



If you were 25 years old, loved golf course design, had a degree in economics and

wanted to play and study all of the worlds great courses . . . what would you do?

Well, I can tell you what Jeff Stein has done.I finally caught up with him in person

this past week when his revolving door stopped in South Florida for a few days.

He and I agreed to meet up at West Palm Beach GC (a classic 1947 Dick Wilson

design restored in 2009 by Mark McCumber-once home of the PGA Tour's West Palm

Beach Invitational).



While reading Jeff's golf blog about a year ago, I realized that we had a ton in common,

namely our insaciable desire to see the beautiful places in the world of golf, and to meet

those people who create and maintain these special parcels of land.


His passion for the game is limitless, and knows no boundary . . . for a young guy, Jeff has

traveled the world.Stein has recently worked the earth for Bill Coore at the soon to open

Bandon Preserve, he worked at Dismal River in Nebraska, was on the construction crew

for Tom Doak & Jim Urbina at Old MacDonald (also at Bandon).He's been to Tasmania and

played the links at Barnbougle Dunes and the sandbelt region - Royal Melbourne. Jeff was

actually working as a Caddy at Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand (when my mates Jamie

Patton & Michael Goldstein were there embarking on their golf escapade around the world for




Stein desires to work in Asia this winter, and return to Dismal River to help complete the project

there this summer.I knew Jeff was a native NYC guy, but what I learned during our round was

that we were both from the same hometown: Staten Island, N.Y (we actually went to the same

high school, the Tottenville Pirates).



After playing West Palm Beach GC (where incidentally, close friend Michael Kartrude holds the

course record 62) we had lunch and bolted over to the Palm Beach Par 3 course, where Stein's

friend (from days gone by at Bedford Golf in New York) Tony Chateauvert is the Director of Golf,

at perhaps the best par three course south of Hamilton Farm's "Hickory" layout.(Tony gave the green light to do a feature on the par 54 oceanside layout in the future)


Jeff was soon on the move again, headed south for a weekend of battling the Jim McLean course

and Blue Monster at Doral . . . something tells me this won't be the last we see of Jeffrey Stein.



To check out Jeffrey Stein's World Golf Odyssey click this link:








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