Chris' coach is Bob Knee at Kip Puterbaugh's Aviara Golf Academy
in north San Diego. He's worked with Chris for the past 6 years. Since Chris got his card via a 28th place finish in the 1998 Q-School, this 6-year span pretty much covers Chris' PGA Tour career. He had a couple of years on the Nationwide (Nike / Buy.com) Tour after his 1996 graduation at UNLV. Chris was also a team member on the 1995 Walker Cup team that included Tiger Woods.
Chris page on PGATour.com is HERE
Bob Knee has an article on putting
posted on the Aviara website that emphasizes squaring the eye line to match the putt line, sqaure shoulders, and eye directly over the ball. What Bob calls the "eye line" is what I call the "skull line." To this extent, we are pretty much in agreement. He also says that the stroke is a movement of the "triangle" as a unit. Other than this, he talks about visualizing the putt going in the cup and having confidence that the putt will sink.
From a picture of a good setup Bob has posted, it is evident that he does not understand the important role of the straight-out gaze in putting. This can be seen from his cap's bill line aiming straight off his face but not pointing at the ball. His eyes are directed down his nose, like many other flawed setups I've seen. Anytime you would like to judge the gaze orientation of a golfer seen from behind looking down the line (or the opposite perspective, from the target looking back to the golfer at the ball), just draw a line that runs from the top of the golfer's ear over his eye and on out of the face. This line needs to point at the ball at address, but it very seldon does. The golfer's actual gaze line is the line from the eye down to the ball. In the case of Tiger Woods and Bob Knee in his photo, these two lines are VERY different, with Tiger and Bob peering down their noses by about 30 degrees off the straight-out line. This gaze can be 30 degrees down the nose EVEN THOUGH the eyeball itself is positioned directly above the ball. more commonly, the golfer has his gaze angled down the nose AND eyeball positioned slightly inside the ball.
It is most emphatically NOT good enough to "put your eyes (eyeballs) directly over the ball" if your gaze is not also straight out of your face, and it is really not necessary (although perhaps better) to have the eyeballs over the ball, and the eyeballs can be inside the ball a bit, so long as the gaze is straight out of the face. It's not surprising that this point is lost, since very few pros know about this today, and the pros of yesteryear only got to a correct gaze by combining eyeballs over the ball plus a flat back of the head. The older pros never really got the point of the gaze as the critical component except indirectly. That's why when golfers started setting up with eyes slightly inside the ball, forehead higher than chin, the "gaze" became lost in the shuffle and has not yet recovered.
Bob Knee also says that distance control is the main skill in putting. However, he doesn't say much about how touch actually works. Instead, he suggests putting balls to different distances as a drill to gain touch.
From this description of the setup, it appears that my teaching of the setup differs a little from that of Chris Riley's coach. I'm pretty sure that Chris' targeting procedure from beside the ball would not be a lot like I teach, since that requires accurate use of a fixed gaze from a straight-out starting position.
This use of the gaze is key to
a) confirming the accuracy and squareness of the aim of the putter face and body from beside the ball,
b) generating accurate touch signals for the brain's instinct system, and
c) teaching the shoulder frame the same movement plane and tempo as experienced by the plate of the base of the neck in turning to and from the target.
It also appears that, while Chris may have excellent touch from his many years putting, that he does not specifically know about how the targeting head-turn from beside the ball feeds the touch system of the cerebellum, for purposes of instinctively setting the backstroke length in the golfer's tempo given the golfer's sense of green speed. Knowing this and becoming familiar with it can be very useful in certain golfing situations or predicaments, and may help avoid a three-jack or two during any given week.
And finally, I see nothing specific in this admittedly brief article that indicates how Bob Knee thinks the stroke should be made, other than the conventional point that the "triangle" should remain intact and that the shoulders should be square. My experience is that leaving matters at this level of instruction is totally inadequate for avoiding pushes or pulls, and that specifically the golfer has to be trained to keep the shoulder action in a single plane aligned parallel to the putt line, move the shoulder vertically up in the thru-stroke with the pivot not sliding forward, and keep the hands aimed and heading down the same line until the end of the stroke without allowing the putter face to get twisted (mostly by the rear hand) and without allowing the sweet spot of the putter to drop inside off the line (the bottom of the shaft has to stay pointing down along the line for a pretty substantial distance past impact).
So, although I can't really tell until I've studied Chris' technique in more detail, and perhaps until I've spoken personally with him, it appears there is room for improvement.
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