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Time to putt practice in on the green not the range; School proves the value of old adage 'You drive for show putt for dough!': Kenyon putting his ideas out there.

Byline: HAROLD BROUGH

IF you go out to practise today it is more likely you will spend the time hitting golf balls on the range than on the putting g reen.

Yet every top player knows that the short game and particularly putting is where a game is won and lost. As the saying goes: "You drive for show, but putt for dough."

Putting may not provide the thrill, excitement or indeed the same satisfaction as hitting the balls as far as possible. But the time spent on the putting green will be well rewarded.

As putting coach Phil Kenyon says: "It is the one area where you can make a big difference to your golf game relatively quickly.

"The putting stroke is not as dynamic as the full swing. There are not as many moving parts, so essentially it is a simpler movement.

"Yet the average club player just does not spend the time working on the putting side of the game."

Kenyon is based in Southport, director of the Harold Swash Putting School, a putting coach to club golfers and some of the big names in golf.

His clients include top local golfers Matthew Baldwin from Royal Birkdale, Formby's Mark Ramsdale, Dave Horsey from Styal and, in the amateur game, Formby Hall's Walker Cup player Tommy Fleetwood.

On the international stage world ranked number seven Henrik Stenson, World Cup winner Edoardo Molinari and Ryder Cup stars, Darren Clarke, David Howell and Oliver Wilson are also pupils.

Kenyon first played golf when he was 11, introduced to the game by his parents, who are members at Hillside.

Kenyon joined too and, as he recalls: "I was hooked on the game immediately." Henrik He played for England Schools, captained Great Britain Universities and won a bronze medal in the World Student Games in Switzerland.

He played for Lancashire Boys, graduated to the senior county team and became a professional in 2000, going to the European Tour School and playing the satellite tours. He still likes to play tournament golf when time allows, which is not very often because he now has other commitments which takes him to golf events and to teach putting around the world. He has been at 25 golf tour events worldwide this year and has just returned from Hong Kong where he worked with Darren Clarke one of his putting "pupils."

Stenson Putting has always been a strength of Kenyon's game, a talent reinforced with his years working with Harold Swash of Southport, the "putting doctor," as he became known. Swash, an engineer by profession, worked on the design of putters, leading in the 1990s to his C Groove putter, manufactured and marketed by Yes Golf.

Swash, also a member at Hillside, has retired and now, in addition to being director of the Putting School, Kenyon also works for Yes Golf, promoting and fitting the product at tournaments alongside coaching his clients while on tour.

The special advantages of the C Grove putter, he explains, are the concentric grooves on the face of the putter which helps the ball roll smoothly off the face, as opposed to it jumping and skidding.

Time spent on the putting green will only be worthwhile when working towards simple but effective fundamentals.

Kenyon says the key factors are: 1.Grip. While the golf club is held in the fingers for the full swing, the club should be held in the palms for putting. This will help reduce wrist action and synchronise shoulder, hands and arms. 2. Alignment. Kenyon says: "Most golfers struggle with alignment and then start to make compensations during the stroke which brings in added complications." 3. Balance and stability. "If the body moves too much it makes it difficult to time the movement correctly, strike the ball consistently and hit the ball on your intended line. 4. Putter Fitting. The putter plays an important role, if it's not the correct length or lie angle then you make compensations in your set up and stroke that can cause error and inconsistency. "What we need to do is to establish the ideal set up position and then get the putter to fit you," he says. "Too many amateurs just buy a putter from the shelf an then fit themselves to the putter." At one time a putting lesson with the local professional would have involved time on the green outside the clubhouse or perhaps using a mat in the pro shop. Kenyon's school has the very latest in computer technology, the kind of equipment familiar in recent years to many golfers buying custom-made clubs and having lessons at a golf centre or pro shop but not introduced for teaching putting .

A video camera takes an overhead view which analyses the shoulder rotation and any destructive body movement. Video cameras placed in front and to the side of the player also assesses how the body set up to the ball and moves during the stroke. A video camera at ground level also assesses whether the ball rolls immediately rather than starts with a jump or skid Ultrasound equipment at floor level, with a sensor clipped onto the shaft of the putter, detects the movement of the putter assessing 26 different parameters including club face alignment, path, face rotation, acceleration and timing.

The equipment highlights any error to a single degree, which is displayed onto a 40 inch television screen, as indeed will any correction as the lesson develops. A 'forceplate' on the ground measures the student's weight distribution at set-up and during the stroke to show whether the golfer is balanced at set-up and stable in their stroke. Players on tours will be trying for perhaps no more than 29 putts a round. The average club player may never get near that but then as Kenyon says: "Club golfers are more concerned about hitting the ball long distances rather than the short game .

"Tour players tend to know more about the value of putting and it is certainly worth club players spending more time working on this part of the game." If you want a lesson with Phil Kenyon visit www. haroldswashputting.co.uk or call 07743 077801.

CAPTION(S):

Phil Kenyon in his favourite place - on the putting green Henrik Stenson
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 15, 2009
Words:1042
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