Foreward: The Art & Science of Switch Putting


After having just completed an instructional clinic in February of 1989 at the Almaden Country Club in San Jose, CA., a gentleman approached me, introduced himself as Brian Stack, and requested a moment of my time. His question was simple and straight to the point. "Which do you prefer, a right-to-left or a left-to-right breaking putt?", I answered without hesitation: "A right-to-left of course!". I also replied that I was certain most right handed golfers would have the same preference. "Correct!" was his next remark — followed by, "I know why!". Now he had my interest, and I began to ask the questions; but he was steadfast in his refusal to discuss the issue further without ample time to state his case. We decided we would meet later, when I could give him my undivided attention.

At our next meeting, I began my educational journey into The Art and Science of Switch Putting. He first explained the advantage a right handed player had on right-to-left breaking putts. It made sense and I concurred. Next, he explained the disadvantage the same player had on a putt breaking in the opposite direction — left-to-right. This too, made perfect sense. Now came the Bomb! Brian said, "In order to have the same advantage and probability of holing a left-to-right breaking putt, the player must step inside the arc, and bring the putter blade down the intended line the ball is to travel." I said, "Wow! You mean left handed? Are you crazy? I don't do anything lefthanded! No way, not a chance, can't do it, won't do it,"— this pretty much sums up the next few minutes of our discussion.

After having calmed me down, Brian suggested a test on my home course, the San Jose Country Club, on a green I know like the back of my hand. He said he was sure the mathematical probabilities so dramatically shifted in my favor — when switching over to the left side — that they would counteract my inexperience. A date was set — we would meet to test their theory and my ability.

Joined by Tim Holman, we met at the 15th green at the San Jose Country Club on the appointed day. In our very short association, it was obvious to me that this was an "odd couple". Brian is the scientist, the fellow who has worked but the nuts and bolts, as to why switch putting works and cross putting does not. Brian does not play golf. Well, he does play, but is not bound by such details as keeping score, etc.,etc.. However, Tim is a scratch golfer, an expert skier, and a former captain of the San Jose State University basketball team — who is good at just about any sport you can imagine. He lives in Lake Tahoe and teaches golf in the summer. Tim is the playing partner— the one who better understands the game of golf, and the feelings and emotions of the player.

The stage is set, the principals are introduced. The test was completed, and to say it was an eye-opener would be an understatement Brian and Tim's Theory of Switch Putting is correct.

Read this information carefully. You may have questions ( as I did ) as to whether you could truly putt from the left side. If you are curious give it a try! If not, at least you'll know why those ?!XQR- !! putts that break away from the player are so ?!XQR-!! hard. What have you got to lose?





Roger Maltbie

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