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Putting Consistency and Confidence with Champions Tour Pro, Jeff Sluman

Any golfer will tell you, putting isn’t easy. In fact, it’s almost a game within the game of golf. Success in putting consistency can elude even the most experienced golfers – including the pros. Just ask Champions Tour Pro, Jeff Sluman.

putting consistency jeff sluman
 

Decorated Pro. Improving Putter.

Sluman, the 59-year-old veteran golfer, has collected six PGA Tour victories, six Champions Tour victories, and over 150 top-10 finishes. And like many golfers, consistent putting has at times gotten away from Sluman.

In fact, Sluman went from the 33rd-ranked putter during the 2015 Champions Tour season all the way to the top-performing putter in 2016. But how did he climb the putting ranks so quickly?

Jeff doesn’t hesitate to credit Blast technology when it comes to improving his putting mechanics. His belief in Blast is so strong that he now serves as an official Blast Athlete.

“If you try to be perfect in the game of golf, you’re going to be disappointed every day,” said Sluman. “But when I saw what Blast could do for me, the lights went on. It was the keystone to support the rest of my game.”

Getting a Grip on Your Putting.

Sluman insists that he was a very strong putter from the time he picked up his first club as a young boy in Rochester, New York. He’s even held onto the same grip he had back then.

“I’m still using the same grip that I used when I started playing golf at age five – a little cross-handed grip,” said Sluman. “I don’t think anybody has the same grip I have. I can’t even describe it, but it works for me. It feels comfortable for me, which is obviously what you want.”

Sluman started toying with different grips later in his career, when his putting performance started to slip a bit. He realized it wasn’t his grip that was costing him strokes and money, and eventually returned to his signature cross-handed grip. Instead was his putting motion – the mechanics, rhythm, and timing behind the stroke itself. It was about him and his body – and learning how to be more efficient and effective with each and every stroke.

That’s where Blast’s Golf 360 comes in. Golf 360 was designed to help golfers understand their metrics, focus on mechanics to improve putting consistency, and lower their scores. The Golf 360 app combines video from your smartphone with real-time motion metrics and in-app video prescriptions. All of this allows you to gain greater insight into what exactly your body is doing during your stroke – and how and where to improve your performance. With the latest app update, Golf 360 supports not just putters, but drivers, irons, and wedges as well.

Blast technology has been hailed by golfers of all levels over the past few years, including over 150 tour players, and was awarded by Golf Digest as one of the top products at the 2016 PGA Merchandise Show. Once Sluman got his hands on Golf 360, he knew it was exactly what he’d been searching for.

“When I first used Golf 360, it was startling to see how poor my putting motion was,” remembered Sluman. “Then I spent about 15 minutes every day on tour training with it after every round. And for me, there’s a window for the data of where I need to be. If I’m inside this window, I’m going to putt well. It’s real simple. I’m not trying to be (fellow Blast Athlete) Brad Faxon or some of the other guys that are great putters. I see their numbers, but I’m not striving to get there.”

So what is Sluman striving for on the course?

Putting Consistency First.

Jeff Sluman recognized that his golf putting consistency was the area he needed to focus on. “What I’m striving to do now that I’ve recognized where I need to be, is stay in that window. As long as I do that, I’m going to putt really well every day,” said Sluman. “And I could tell you that I haven’t had that feeling for at least 15 years, that every day I came out, I was going to putt well. And now, I know it.”

For Sluman, consistency – and the confidence it can breed – is the key to putting success. Sluman claims that he knew right away that Blast technology was going to help refine his putting performance.

Sluman recalls practicing with fellow Champions Tour pro and Blast user Bob Tway – and being stunned when he discovered the incredibly affordable price of the then-beta version of the Golf 360 sensor and app.

“He explained to me what it did then asked, ‘How much would you pay for this?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, $10,000?’ (Blast) was just going in the stores at the time, I think it was something like $150. Flabbergasted, I said, ‘This is the last bit of information that I need with the other things I was doing with my putting.’ I felt I was getting better, but I was getting no results on the golf course in tournament play, which really means, you’re not getting any better, right? You can miss closer, but it’s still a miss.”

Confidence Next.

After implementing Golf 360 into his 15-minute training segments, Sluman was able to develop the confidence through putting consistency that eventually led to his surge to the very top of the putting ranks on the Champions Tour.

“It’s funny, because you get the confidence now, and you don’t look at a three-footer and your stomach’s rolling or say, ‘Well, I don’t like this putt, because it breaks a little left to right, and I always miss it right,’ related Sluman. “There’s none of that going on anymore. It’s just, ‘OK. I’m going to go out and make it.’ And that has been an unbelievable feeling this year.”

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With Your Putting Stroke, Timing Really IS Everything

Putting Stroke, Blast Blog, Timing is Everything

It has been said that in life, timing is everything. And if you’re a golfer, you know that this is especially true when it comes to your golf swing – particularly when it comes to your putting stroke.

But just what is timing all about in golf, exactly? And why is it so important to a successful putting stroke on the green?

We recently spoke with Blast Motion Founder Michael Bentley and Lead Biomechanist Patrick Cherveny to learn more. In addition to creating Blast Motion and helping grow Blast Golf, Bentley also has extensive experience as a PGA instructor and former international tour player.

Applying the FORCE.

“If we look at timing, as just an element of force, we’re really looking at how a golfer applies force to the putting stroke,” explains Bentley. “We break it down into the specific elements including timing, length and speed. By timing the back stroke time and the forward stroke time, we can see how well or how efficient the golfer is moving during their game on the course, and on the practice putting green.”

This element of timing is so vital to a successful golfer’s performance that Bentley made sure it was a primary focus of everything Blast Motion did upon the company’s founding.


Finding the RIGHT Time.

It’s one thing to understand the ins and outs of timing in a golf swing or putting stroke. It’s another to know what constitutes ideal timing – and how to attain it. By compiling massive amounts of data on numerous golfers, Blast Golf has been able to come closer to putting an actual number on the value of timing.

“By collecting so many strokes of all the best players in the world, as well as the amateur golfers, we can see big changes in those players,” explains Bentley. “The best players in the world are able to keep their timing variances down within a few hundredths of a second, where beginners are maybe as high as sixth, seventh, tenths of a second.”

“From a timing standpoint, it relates more to the motor control process,” adds Cherveny. “Michael’s referring to force, torque, those type of movements. While the golfer doesn’t have as much knowledge of how to control force, timing makes more sense to them, so it’s an easier way for them to replicate it. They’re always going to be differences between different skill levels, but it’s also something that anyone can actually work at – through feedback and repetition – to actually increase that capability.”


It’s ALWAYS the Right Time for BLAST.

One way a golfer can get that feedback and repetition and increase his or her capabilities is through the use of Blast Golf technology. But just how does Blast help a golfer build and maintain that ideal timing?

“The best players in the world have figured it out through thousands and thousands of motions. The beginning golfer doesn’t have that much time to spend on honing his skill, so we’re able to give him a clock that he can carry with him anywhere he wants to go. With a portable clock, you can get really tight with those variances – and you’re going to make a lot more putts.”

That Blast-manufactured “clock” Bentley references is much more than a clock, however. Its technical name is Blast Golf 360 – and it’s the industry’s most accurate sensor and mobile app available. It has been carefully designed to capture every action and stroke metric, then deliver unique analysis and insights. It also can provide the user with drills designed to improve and refine your timing.

It’s also incredibly easy to apply and implement. Just attach your sensor to the included grip attachment, place that attachment onto the butt of your club, and sync it up with the companion smartphone app.Then simply start swinging. Learning. Improving. The end result? You start making more putts.

Drill Down.

When it comes to perfecting timing in your golf swing or putting stroke, there are included specific drills you can practice and work on.

“Go out and hit a three-foot putt, a six-foot putt and a 30-foot putt,” says Bentley. “Forget path attack or face angle, forget all those things. Keep it simple. Get timing first, get consistent with it, and then you’ll start seeing the other elements start to be constrained. And if you constrain those other elements, you will increase my performance.”

This approach works for golfers of all levels – including decorated PGA Tour professionals (and Blast Golf Athlete) like Jeff Sluman. Thanks in large part to his work with Blast Golf technology. Sluman improved from 33rd place on the PGA Champions Tour in putting in 2015 to the very top of the list during the 2016 PGA Champions season.


Use Blast in ALL Areas of Your Game.

It’s pretty clear that refining the timing of your swing can make a huge difference in your golf game – starting with your putting stroke. But improving your timing can impact your overall golf game
While it might all begin with putting, it doesn’t end there.

“We started the story very easy with putting, because it’s a simple concept,” says Bentley. “Now I can make it more complex as I go into the full swing, and look at those elements. You have a guy like a Brad Faxon who’s phenomenal with the short game – he’s not as strong with his driver, but he is one of the best at the short game. And is his timing different with his driver than his wedges and putter? Yes. And then you have other guys that are phenomenal with the driver, but not so good with the putter. Rory McIlroy is a great example. Look what Rory’s been doing with his ball striking for a long time. And look what he’s been doing with his putter, and you’ll see those signatures. The great news is all of these players are working on their weaknesses and making them strengths with the Blast feedback. The stories are there.”

Cherveny agrees. Timing really is everything.

When an athlete struggles mechanically, they often get caught in a paralysis by analysis state where they focus on every small detail of their swing. This often times results in even worse performance, especially in their ability to perform an action in a repeatable manner. “A lot of times it’s innate from the athlete, because they want to try and control it even more – but that actually leads to increased variance. There’s a lot going on in terms of what the athlete’s trying to change. But the timing and the tempo of the swing really kind of drive home the end goal, that it is such a simple concept that you can actually train to. And that’s why it’s so powerful.”

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Tees and Tots: How Kids Can Benefit From Playing Golf

kids golf

Golf is picking up in popularity with America’s youth these days, and it couldn’t come at a better time. With childhood obesity rates skyrocketing in recent years, there’s no time like the present to get kids out of the house and moving around. However, there are many advantages to the early adoption of golf, in addition to the physical benefits, that are valuable for our youths. Along with requiring children to adhere to proper etiquette and follow rules, golf provides many other social, physical, and emotional benefits as well.

Social Benefits

Golfing has always been a social sport, and that benefit is not reserved for the adults who enjoy the game. With a relatively low barrier to entry, individuals of any age can step onto a course and play, making it a sport well-suited to demographic diversity that can introduce children to a gamut of social interactions. Golf also offers a perfect venue for positive parent/child interactions. It can be a great way to encourage quality time and bonding between a parent and child, which can set the stage for a lasting relationship.

This sport also requires that children mind their manners and conduct themselves respectfully while on the course. In addition to etiquette, golf helps children learn to problem solve, use numbers, and be confident in their abilities while also improving on their weaknesses.

Physical Benefits

In a world of technology, it’s easy for children to stop playing outside and start spending more and more time indoors, in front of screens. This can make it challenging for parents who are trying to get their kids to participate in more physical activities. Golf can provide an alternate means of enjoyment outside of the realm of video games. And because it’s open to all skill levels, it has the benefit of being an easy choice for children that might otherwise shy away from sports. As a non-contact and low-impact sport, it doesn’t require a child to be the strongest, fastest, or biggest in order to be successful or enjoy themselves.

Emotional Benefits

Children require development of their emotional fitness just as much as those physical and social counterparts. Golf helps develop the youth’s emotional health by encouraging self-improvement and challenging them to persevere through frustrations. It requires players to self-analyze, practice, and accept encouragement and constructive critique from coaches and peers. With both achievements and disappointments on the horizon, little players must learn to sustain a positive outlook, learn from their mistakes, and “shake it off” when they fall short so that past faults do not affect current performance or future results.

Because golf is a game of self-improvement, it requires the player to focus on their performance, and it eliminates the opportunity to easily ascribe shortfalls to team members. This can help instill autonomy and responsibility, and nurture the self-confidence that is so vital to living a long and happy life.

Golf is a great way to encourage the home-bound child to get out and spend a day in nature having some good old-fashioned fun on the green, and it can offer many lessons to today’s youth. Several parallels can be drawn between this game and the challenges and successes inherent in society. Golf requires the child to practice emotional management, positivity, proper planning, clear focus, good social skills, and perseverance. It also helps them assess both the task at hand as well as the bigger picture. As children learn how to conduct themselves properly while they are on the course, they are also learning how to become happy, healthy, successful members of society.

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Tees Through the Times: The Evolution of Golf

From the Scottish Moors to the US Open, golf has experienced quite a few changes during its journey through time. Once restricted to the elite, golf has found its way into the television sets and hearts of enthusiasts across the globe. It hails from humble roots as a small feather ball and wooden club, and has since been modernized by the latest in laser technology and hybrid materials. Needless to say, there is a long-documented history of love for the game of golf.

The Early Evolution of Golf

Golf originated on the eastern coast of Scotland during the 15th century. Beginning as simple pebbles knocked around sand dunes, golf has come a long way since its early days.

  • In 1457, the sport was banned because of an increased devotion to the games of golf and soccer, and a decreased interest for sports such as archery, that lended themselves more aptly towards military training.
  • In 1502, the ban was lifted by James IV, who was himself a fan of the sport. As golf increased in popularity, King Charles I picked up the game in England, and Mary Queen of Scots broke ground as the first known female golfer. She brought the sport along to France where she coined the term ‘caddie’ in reference to her French military cadets who assisted her as she played.
  • In 1744, the first golf club was formed: the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. This club officiated the 13 rules of play.
  • In 1786 the first golf club was formed outside of the UK, the South Carolina Golf Club in Charleston, United States.
  • In 1860 the first tournaments began in Prestwick, Scotland.
  • Fast forward to 1953, and the first golf tournament hit television screens, followed in 1990 by the Golf Channel, which brought the game into living rooms across the nation. By the early 20th century, golf began to look very much as it does today.

The Evolution of Golf Equipment

The first golf balls were made of hardwood, and were later replaced with leather pouches stuffed with feathers called “featherie” balls. These balls came with some issues; namely that they warped after being exposed to the elements or whacked around for a while. Since that time, the traditional golf ball has changed dramatically. In the mid-1800s, the gutta-percha ball, or “guttie” was created. Made from dry sap, it was heated and shaped, and was much cheaper to manufacture than feather balls. From then, golf balls have changed into the form we see today. Dimples in the ball were found to help with consistent flight, and a standard solid golf ball was eventually created in lieu of previous models with layered internal components. Now the market holds many types of balls, with varying numbers of pieces.

A dramatic evolution can also be seen in golf clubs over the years. Woods and metals were experimented with, along with varying centers of gravity. Players initially carved their own clubs (or more likely, had them carved) from wood such as beech, holly, pear, and apple. As the cost of creating clubs was steep, the game was initially limited to the elite. In the 1800s, a handful of Scottish club makers began exporting their crafted clubs around the world. By 1900, the slow adoption of steel-shafted clubs had begun, but they were not technically legal in the game until 1928. Because there were a wide number of clubs available, a 14 club rule was adopted in 1938 by the United States Golf Association. Since then, clubs have evolved through all matter of synthetic materials. In modern times, there are countless models of golf clubs on the market to serve just about any style of player.

The Evolution of Golf Attire

There’s more to the game of golf than simply the swing. Golf attire has been an important attribute of the golfing culture and can be traced back to the stylish outfits of Bobby Jones in the early 20th century. Back in those days, players dressed formally in dress shirts and ties. This formal dress relaxed over time, specifically during a heat wave in 1933 that encouraged players to ditch the wool and lighten their load with breezier fabrics such as flannel. Polos hit the scene in the 1950, and are credited to the golfer Ben Hogan. In the 1960s Doug Sanders flamboyantly marched across courses in rich colors and intricately patterned shirts and pants. Loud and proud polyester and plaid came aboard in the 1970s until Payne Steward revived traditional formal wear in the 1980s, when classic looks retook the greens. Later in 2010, Ryan Moore introduced updates to the traditional golf attire by adding cardigan sweaters, vests, and ties into the mix. Undoubtedly we will see the evolution continue as golf style remains a strong component of the sport.

New Technologies and Their Impact

New technologies are drastically changing the face of golf. Aerodynamics, club weights, and a wide variety of different materials have all contributed to the evolution of the game.

  • Golf balls today have split from their standard one-piece construction. Although such a ball flies straighter, two- to five-piece balls can aid a player in increasing their distance, and are often adopted by more advanced players.
  • Hybrid golf clubs have been introduced to help golfers launch their balls with better results – allowing new players to experience a club that is more forgiving to those with an imperfect swing.
  • The putter face has also received a makeover in recent years to become more balanced and targeted.
  • Golf shoes have become expertly crafted to include additional padding, support, and water proofing.
  • Rangefinders help golfers decide just which club to use by providing laser technology that determines how far the golfer is away from a hole, and gauges slope and wind.
  • Wearable tech enables golfers to improve on performance by analyzing swing speed, displaying slow-motion videos, and offering complex, real-time metrics.

Golf is a sport with deep origins, and is a common pastime for both the serious player and the after-work enthusiast. We will no doubt continue to see the game of golf evolve as we move into a future full of technological advances and a sustained passion to play a round or two on one of the countless courses across the world.  

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Improve Your Golf Swing

Whether you’re just becoming familiar with the golf course or it’s been your place of solace for years, there are always small improvements you can make to boost your game. Are you frustrated with your accuracy? Do you want to beat your best score? Whatever your goals, it all starts with improving your golf swing. Take these tips with you the next time you visit the driving range.

golf swing

Analyze Your Form

First and foremost, you have to understand what you’re doing wrong. Like with most sports, there’s a formula golf pros stick to that helps boost ball speeds and improve accuracy.

When setting up your swing, stand with the ball of your foot, your knee cap, and the back of your shoulder lined up vertically. Position yourself with the ball in line with the left side of your face and the club face pointed toward the target. Have a friend photograph or video tape your setup posture so you can see for yourself how to adjust your body until you’re in this ideal position.

Once you have your setup posture down, focus on your swing. The proper form for each swing will vary depending on where you’re taking your shot from, so you’ll want to practice at various distances. To get started, check out Todd Anderson’s guide to golf swings at GolfDigest.com.

Track Your Progress

Now that you have a better idea of where you’re going wrong, it’s time to take your game to the next level by tracking your swings so you can continue to get it right. You can always develop your own way of tracking your progress, such as recording your scores, having a friend videotape your swings, or keeping a journal with you on the course to record any tweaks you made and the outcomes.

Using Blast Motion is one of the easiest ways to keep track of your progress. The motion sensor attaches to your club and records your metrics. The sensor automatically captures video, creates and curates video highlights, and overlays your metrics onto the video to create a visual record of your improvement. You’ll be able to review metrics of both your putt and full swings including downswing time, swing speed, efficiency, loft, lie and more.

Forget About Your Arms for a Moment

If you’ve been playing golf for a long time, then you know that your body does much of the work when swinging. However, this concept does not come so easily to new golfers, and it can be tough to change for those who have been focusing on their arms—and only their arms—for the majority of their career.

The real key to power in your golf swing is to use your body for momentum by rotating your shoulders and hips when you swing.

Golf Tips Mag shares a great exercise to help you get the feel of using your body and not just your arms. Begin in a dead-stop position, and place your club behind the ball. Without taking a backswing, attempt to drag the ball into the air. This task is difficult if you swing only with your arms and hands, but once you start putting your body into the swing, it becomes easier to get the ball into the air.

Relax

Golf is supposed to be a fun, relaxing sport, and to many, it is. Unfortunately for others, it can get frustrating to achieve that perfect swing. The secret is to relax your body and not let that frustration get to you. When relaxed, you’ll feel more confidence in your stance, and your body will move more naturally through the swing as you pivot your shoulders and hips.

Like with any sport, practicing your swing will help you become a better golfer, so keep at it and aim for consistency. What exercises do you do when practicing to help improve your swing?