If you ask golfers how many putts they take in a round they’ll probably have a rough idea of the number. But if you asked them for the percentage very few would think it’s over 40% of the shots in an average round. Wayne O’Callaghan has been building a reputation as a leading putting coach, and his new performance studio in Cork Golf Centre is designed to provide golfers with cutting edge technology to improve their putting.
Wayne, a PGA Advanced Professional recently invested in the latest putting analysis technology, the Sam Puttstudio. Wayne has used the Science & Motion puttlab for a number of years, and he recently upgraded to the studio version which provides ball tracking and video projection. Golfers and the instructor can now see the putt line thanks to the projection of the ideal line, and once they hit the putt they can also see the live replay on the putting surface giving instant feedback.
For any golfer familiar with Trackman or TopTracer, the experience is similar, and O’Callaghan has developed a process to take golfers from their first few putts through to seeing a definite improvement in their performance on the green. “The initial lesson will involve getting to know the student and their ideas about their own putting” explained Wayne. “One of the main things that students think is that they want the putter to go straight back and through. The putter hangs at an angle so generally there’s an arc to the stroke. Going straight back and through generally causes the player to manipulate the head along that line. Once we work on that we can focus on the three important things in putting; green reading, the ability to start your ball on the correct line and the speed.”
An overhead camera tracks the ball speed while another camera video’s the stroke, and this combined with a projector give’s the golfer and the instructor instant feedback on the putt. In addition to the cameras, the software captures details like the aim, path, loft and tempo, and Wayne uses these details to assess where a golfer can improve: “We start with a full measurement with the puttlab to get an idea where the golfers stroke is. This looks at timings, and the tendencies made up of the start line, aim and speed. We also look at the impact spot with can be addressed with an improvement in mechanics.”
“The puttstudio has a projection system so we can teach green reading inhouse where we can project the break and the aim point. We use the thirds rule, looking at where the ball needs to be at two thirds distance, seeing where the curve is and where the ball needs to go. Most golfers under read the break, they don’t aim far enough left of right of the hole depending on the break. If they have a poor start line we can look at the set up or mechanics, and we have a number of drills to help the golfer improve. If they have a good start line then we can look at things like timing. After a number of drills we do the measurements again and we usually see an improvement. We don’t let anyone go away without some improvement and more importantly a lesson plan so when they go to the putting green they’ll have a number of drills they can practice before the next session.”
Over the past two years, Wayne has seen golfers from all over Ireland visit the studio in Ballincollig, and he expects that to continue. The Sam puttstudio is just one of the tools that he uses to assist golfers looking to improve their putting. He uses the Capto 2 system for outdoor lessons and he also uses Trackman to measure ball roll which helps with green reading. As well as being one of the resident instructors in Cork Golf Centre, Wayne also works from his home in Carrigaline where he has an indoor Trackman studio as well as an extensive outdoor putting area. He also provides oncourse and short game tuition in Raffeen Creek.
As well as having the puttstudio system in place, O’Callaghan is one of just two PGA professionals Ireland to hold Level 3 certification with Science & Motion, the company who has developed the solution. Having invested in several new technologies over the past five years, as well as more traditional training with the likes of Phil Kenyon, Wayne thinks the upgrade adds a new level of analysis for golfers. “My favourite part is the projection and the visual cues it gives a student. It’s really helpful when working on aiming and it’s great to be able to turn it on and off to see if the student is improving. It’s a great aid for me and the student and it really helps.”