10 Lessons Learned From Switching To A Broomstick
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10 Lessons Learned From Switching To A Broomstick

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10 Lessons Learned From Switching To A Broomstick

A couple of months ago, I switched to a broomstick putter. The results have been mostly good, with some ups and downs, mainly due to a lack of instructional information beyond the basic “this is how you hold a broomstick.” As I went through the learning process, I’ve gained some knowledge on switching, mostly the undocumented things that no one else tells you.

If you have any questions or other learnings, feel free to let me know. I’m not professing to be an expert and I’d welcome anyone to correct me on anything I post. It’s a little long so I apologize if you can’t get through the whole thing or use it as bedtime reading to help yourself get to sleep.

1. It’s nothing like normal putting

This may seem obvious to some but I didn’t realize it was that different. Switching to a broomstick is hard work. The problem is exacerbated by the flawed perspective we get from YouTube and the internet. 

When you watch some YouTuber testing a broomstick, it seems like it all comes naturally. You don’t see the 12 practice putts that were bad before the one that was shown. Bad putts don’t sell referral links and discount codes to putter sales, and many of these youtubers rely on referrals from discounts to help fund their channels. 

2. Grip is more than just comfort

When I started putting with a broom, the initial results were really good: 28 putts good. I won a monthly medal. After about a month, I made a grip change from claw to pencil because it felt more comfortable.

What I didn’t realize was the impact of that grip change on my line. Without knowing it, I started taking the putter back a little straighter and squarer and slightly off the arc. The impact on short putts wasn’t massive but anything beyond four or five feet became hit and miss. I couldn’t understand why. I didn’t think about the grip change because I didn’t expect it to have a big impact.

When you look at which grip works for you, you have to consider the following:

  • Comfort – Does it feel natural?
  • Repeatability – Can you repeat the grip consistently? 
  • Distance control—Can you consistently maintain your distance control on different green speeds and distances? 
  • Accuracy over all distances – It’s one thing to hit a short putt accurately. Try hitting an accurate 50-foot lag putt with the same grip. 
  • Putting arc – The biggest mistake I (and many others) have made is referring to putting as a “pendulum” because pendulum assumes you take it back square on a 90-degree line. (aka “straight-back/straight-through). A broomstick putter is on a 78- to 80-degree lie angle and that means the arc will reflect that. I’d recommend buying a putting mirror with a putting arc so you can ensure you are taking the club back on the correct arc.

3. Switching won’t fix bad green reading

When I started putting well, I realized how bad my green reading was (and still is). If you think switching to a broom will solve all your putting problems, it may not. It does help fix alignment, but it won’t fix bad reads. Sometimes, people say they’re bad at putting when they aren’t. They’re taking the wrong lines because they are bad at reading breaks or because they’re starting by aiming at the wrong line.

Find out whether you have a reading problem or a putting problem. Find putting lines you know and try putting them from different distances. If it’s going where it should, changing putters isn’t a fix for your problem. Learning to read the greens or practicing will. When I say “practice”, I mean matching putting speed to a read if you’re putting short or long. Practice putting on strong slopes regularly to allow yourself to be better at reading slopes. Try different speeds to see if dying it into the hole is the right approach. You can also do an AimPoint or similar green reading course.

4. Your putting will go from good to bad and back to good again if you give it the time

You are dealing with years of putting that your body has become accustomed to. That means it takes a lot to undo that muscle memory and develop new muscle memory.

Putting on a practice green is easy. There is no pressure so missing the putt has no impact. When you are under pressure, things change and you need to be able to putt from muscle memory to be consistent. You might consistently sink four-foot putts but imagine the pressure of a four-foot putt where winning or losing means winning or losing $4 million, like a professional golf tournament. 

When you’re out in practice rounds with your buddies after a few hours of training, you’ll initially start putting well, maybe dropping to 28 putts or lower for a round because there is no pressure. Your buddies are impressed with your new putter and some might even consider getting one.

When you play under pressure, such as in a club competition, things change. You’ll start to miss a few of the putts you’d previously got and see your putt total rise to 33 or more. You’ll get frustrated and feel like all the work you put into the broomstick wasn’t worth it. You may be tempted to sell it and chalk it up to a failed experiment.

5. Don’t try accelerate the putter with your bottom hand. Let the weight of the putter do as much work as possible

Broomsticks move on a big arc and are much heavier. Hitting the ball doesn’t require much force at all. You take the putter back and let the weight of the putter do the work, with minimal acceleration required. If you want to hit further, take a longer stroke. You may need some acceleration on the long putts but the more bottom-hand acceleration, the greater the inconsistency of strike and distance control.

6. Start your putt with the shaft vertical

Broomsticks don’t rely on a forward press. The putter shaft should be the center of your stance like the hand of a clock at 6 p.m with the shaft at a 90-degree angle to the direction of the putt. That means the ball should be slightly forward of center, about one ball length, depending on the broomstick putter you’re using and the location of the shaft relative to the putter face. You want the putter to meet the bottom of the arc with the face at its squarest point and with the putter traveling directly at the target.

7. Your eye still needs to be over the ball

Sometimes, there is a perception that a broomstick putter causes the ball to be further away from you. The ball’s location, relative to the eyes, should be identical to a short putter. If you drop a ball from eye level, it should land on top of the ball sitting on the ground. This is one of the reasons people use putting mirrors.

Try this experiment: Line up three balls 15 to 20 feet apart in a straight line. Stand at the first ball, like you are planning to putt along the line. The balls should look like a straight line with your eye directly over the ball. The line won’t seem straight if your head is further over your feet. As a side note, if you wear prescription glasses, the line will probably seem curved irrespective of whether your eye is over the ball, due to the curvature of the glass.

8. Practice all lengths. Shorter putts could be challenging until you find the right technique

Different problems apply to different people but broomsticks introduce different dilemmas to your golf at different distances. It could make some things easier and some things harder. My lag putts became insanely accurate in distance and line. I’d constantly be within a couple of feet on a 20- to 50-foot putt. However, I battled to sink shorter putts. It was harder to keep the putting stroke smooth on shorter putts due to the putter’s weight. I can honestly say that, at one point on my broomstick journey, I was more confident in a 10-foot putt than a five footer. You find yourself in a dilemma. You’re gaining putts in one area and losing in another and you feel like you’ve gone two steps forward and two steps back. I tried practicing short putts, and that helped a little, but the problem was trying to keep the putter’s  heavy head stable while moving it slowly. Think of it like trying to ride a motorcycle slowly in a straight line. It’s hard because of the weight.

It was that analogy that gave me the solution that worked for me. When you ride a motorcycle slowly, rather than trying to feather the throttle, you rev harder and hold the brakes. The combination creates a bit of tension in the bike that holds it steady and makes the process less jerky.

What this translated to me was using a much tighter grip on the lower hand. When I take long putts, I typically hold my right hand quite soft, maybe 30 percent strength. When I hit short putts, I hold it much tighter, maybe 60 percent. This translates to the “brake” on the motorcycle and holds the putter steady on shorter putts. By holding the putter tight, it puts more tension in my body.

9. You may not like alignment balls but they are great feedback tools.

Some of you may not like alignment balls but they are great feedback on what the putter head is doing. My recommendation is that, if you don’t like using alignment balls, use them just for practice. If you are hitting the ball properly, you should see the line roll end over end to the hole. If you hit it badly, it won’t. That’s important feedback because, while you may occasionally miss shots where it rolls end over end and you got the line wrong, you’ll miss lots where it doesn’t roll end over end, particularly in the six-foot plus range. Practice with alignment balls and make sure you align every putt where possible. 

It is also valuable for gauging the accuracy of your strikes at different distances. It’s much harder to get it rolling end over end on a 50-foot putt than a six-foot putt and the 50-foot ones are the ones you will miss by enough for a three-putt. I’d also experiment with different alignment methods to determine what allows you to square the face best and keep it square through the stroke. I’ve found the “triple track” style line works best for me.

10. Develop a routine specifically for your broomstick that incorporates your arms/legs/head setup

Setting up to putt with a broomstick is more complex than with a traditional putter. As I mentioned, repeatability=predictability=success. Even if you repeatedly putt one degree to the left of the hole, you can plan on that by aiming one degree right. It only becomes a big problem when the miss is inconsistent.

If you want repeatability, you need to develop a routine that ensures:

  • Your feet are in the same position
  • Your lead elbow is in the same position every time
  • The trail hand is in the same position
  • The putter is in the same position and at the same lie angle
  • Your head is in the same position over the ball
  • Your shoulders are aligned with the target
  • The head of the putter is pointed at the target

Make It Routine

When you look at the above, it shows you how easily small things can go wrong. You may not miss a three- or four-foot putt if they’re wrong but you could easily miss a six- to eight-foot putt, assuming you get the weight and break correctly.

What makes a broomstick accurate is that if you take the putter back on line, it’s more likely to remain on line for the putt. The routine is about ensuring you take the putter back online.

Here is my routine as an example:

I line up a line on my ball (and hopefully a mark on the ground) with what I think is the correct line. I don’t take a practice putt.

When I line up my putter on the correct line and the shaft perpendicular to the target, ensuring the putter’s lie angle is flat on the ground. While doing this, I line up my right foot and have my left thumb on the top of the shaft with my left hand open, fingers straight, and my left elbow pointing at the target. This ensures my shoulders are square to the putting line.

When I am happy, I close my left hand and position my left foot. I lift the putter off the ground and wait for any movement to stop. I rock my shoulders to putt.

The above isn’t as complex as it sounds. It happens naturally for me now, or more naturally than when I started. You’ll hear people talk about the importance of a routine but when you change putting styles, you become acutely aware of the impact of not following a routine.

Conclusion

Whilst it’s essential to have a routine and get your putting to a point where it’s muscle memory on the course, avoid overthinking it.

Check from all sides of the hole so you know the break. Pick your line, do your routine and trust yourself to putt. If you make a mistake, learn from it and move on.

My shift to a broomstick has been a great and positive experience. It just wasn’t as smooth as I expected. It’s now at a point where I don’t think I could go back to a short putter.

It does still provide some entertainment, though. It’s those moments when I head to the practice green and I hear the snide comments from golfers who don’t know me. Then I start making putts and their demeanor changes. The laughs end and the only time I hear a snide comment it’s about banning broomsticks. I take that as a compliment.

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      Andy LaCombe

      1 month ago

      Man – I have bought the following LAB Golf putters in teh last year. DF 2.1 broom, MEZZ.1 Max Broom, DF3 34″ 79.5º lie, DF 2.1 33″ 79.5º lie and a MEZZ.1 Max 33″ 79.5º lie

      This was all a part of a journey to experiment with my putting. I am with LAB Golf from here on out – I can not putt with a 70ish degree lie putter any more because the arc of your stroke is bigger. Take a bike wheel and change its lie angle to the ground and you can see what I mean by this. The higher the lie angle the more straight (less arc) your stroke will have. IMO that is why the broom works

      As far as teh broom, I think my recommendation is to play around with EVERYTHING/ Change your grip around and see what feels best. The same goes for your stance, where you hands are on the grip, ball position.

      From my experimentation you will know when something feels right and importantly you will know when something does NOT feel right. Doing what I did cost a fortune, you need to find a store with different models of putters and play around. You can also mock up a putter by taping a shaft onto and existing putter = this can get your into the right ball park

      For me with all putting styles with all putters – I do NOT use tension at all and I would argue tension is a no no for putting. The reason is this – your index finger and thumb are connected into your back and the other 3 fingers are not. When you add tension inot your thumb and index finger your restrict the motion of you arm – prove it to yourself by gripping with the last three fingers and moving your arm – feel the tension. Then pinch your thumb and index finger together and swing your arm – feel the tension and swing restriction. So that tension is related to the amount of grip in the thumb and index finger. vary that tension and you vary the restriction meaning your putting stroke will vary widely.

      IMO eliminate teh tension and as Sam Hahn says – allow teh putter to stay online. If you ever get a change to putt with a shorter putter that is 79.5º lie agnle you will be amazed at what that can do for your putting – for me it stays online and it is super easy to line up putts.

      Putting is an art and no two people are the same – steal from others and mold your style from that theft I would argue only one point tension in the putting stroke is detrimental in teh long run – anything can work in the short term, but you will find a lack of tension is easy to produce for me by focusing on the ball when I putt – I do not watch the putter just look at the target and then focus on the ball.

      Reply

      Kevin

      1 month ago

      I use an L.A.B. broomstick putter. I draw even more ire from the purists. I put side saddle like Sam Snead did. This avoids the eye problems as you are looking right down your line.

      Reply

      WBN

      1 month ago

      What are the complications or benefits of a left hand low on a broomstick?

      Reply

      Richard

      1 month ago

      Have used a broomstick putter for 4 years with great results but I use face on or side saddle technique which I found superior.

      Reply

      Sam Blasco

      1 month ago

      Me too. If folks were brought up with this method from an early age it would be, by far, the best putting method. I’m convinced of that.

      Reply

      Kevin

      1 month ago

      That is exactly what I do…it greatly offends the over serious purists, which only adds entertainment value.

      Reply

      Robert Taylor

      1 month ago

      I have been using a LAB Golf MezzMax broomstick with TPT shaft at 45″ for about a month now, used a DF 2.1 46″ broomstick for the first time ever last weekend and had one of the best rounds I’ve ever had playing golf. Shot 72 with 3 birdies and an eagle. Made putts from 15,25,45, and 50 feet. I did have a couple of misses inside 6 feet also, but 30 putts total including putts from the fringe. Since I switched I have found it a pretty easy and natural feel, but the tips given in the article are spot on and will really help anyone making the switch. Most importantly, consistent position of body alignment and ball position are critical. Letting the putter’s weight swing itself and not manipulating the head or face rotation is key, especially with LAB broomsticks as they stay square to your path on their own. Great article and thanks for the tips!

      Reply

      Caleb

      1 month ago

      Thanks so much for this! For the past 9 months or so I’ve been seriously considering going from my LAB DF2.1 Armlock to a LAB broomstick, either MezzMax or DF3. I actually have an in-person fitting at their headquarters next week! I’m quite sure I’m going to walk away with a broomstick. And once I dial it in for 3 or 4 months to confirm, I’ll sell my armlock and never look back. Glad to hear all the ins and outs of your experience! Very helpful! 😁👍🏼

      Reply

      Joseph Parent

      1 month ago

      I have had so much trouble over the last 7 years or so with putting. When I was playing in my 20’s and 30’s, I was a very good putter. I emulated Jack Nicklaus stroke and set up and it worked great for me. I am now 72, have a new knee, had 2 back surgeries, and just had a full left shoulder replacement. I bought a L.A.B. Broomstick this past winter, but wasn’t able to start using it due to some shoulder replacement setbacks until April. You are right, it takes a lot of work. My early results have been so inconsistent, that I don’t have the confidence to put it in play yet, but I haven’t given up on it as for me, when using it I feel YIP free, and that’s major!! You mentioned lifting the putter before putting, so that means you are really hovering the putter rather than letting it rest on the green?? Does that lead to a smoother stroke for you? I have tried that, but I think not nearly enough. I’m not giving up yet and I thank you for putting some instructional advice out there, as I haven’t been able to locate any “Broomsticks For Beginners” websites.

      Reply

      MissionMan

      1 month ago

      The lifting of the putter is to stop me catching it on the grass on the backswing. I rest it on the ground while I set up.
      As for another stroke, I’d check your top hand pressure. Thumb on top, top two fingers tight, next two really loose, almost off the putter completely. This helps the putter swing freely.

      Reply

      Hopp Man

      1 month ago

      It still “looks” like a lot of the pros that use this method are anchoring but I can’t really tell from the angle that is showing on tv.

      Reply

      MissionMan

      1 month ago

      I think sometimes it looks like anchoring because the shirt is hanging down onto the top of the putter. In my case (6′ with a 45″ broom), the broom is 4-5 inches off my chest. I personally don’t think there is much benefit to anchoring.

      Reply

      Will

      1 month ago

      It just looks so dumb that I’d rather three putt.

      Reply

      David Modeer

      1 month ago

      I have been a fairly good putter all my life. I am 78 years old and have played 70 of those years. I attribute my decent putting to developing feel playing and practicing for basketball, my favorite sport. I played b-ball until I was about 52 years old. If I had to revise everything about putting I learned over the years I would lose my mind trying to switch to a broomstick. I have always been a die in the hole putter having grown up on bent grass greens. Not sure how that works well with a broomstick. To much and too little time to learn such a different method.

      Reply

      Mike Hook

      1 month ago

      Hi David like you, I’m 83 and when I was in my late 60s I tried the Broomstick 44-inch long shaft on a YES Sally 12M Long putter, but when the putting surface was green and slow I found it difficult to gauge the distance as I was pushing the stroke, but when they were slick it was a lot easier to get the ball rolling. so I changed the tac and converted it to a Belly size 40″ and found it perfect for all summer and autumn Putting surfaces except in the winter after hollow tining, then I brought out the old YES C Groove Callie -12 mallet putter, but one thing I have found is if you add counterbalance weights like 25 or 50 gram to the grip this helps with a truer swing, in the belly I have a 75-gram weight of which I can change around at leisure, but to conclude the YES Sally C-Groove 12M Long is by far the best putter head for Broom or Belly that’s if you can find one in mint condition, their like hen’s teeth to find and still expensive, Youll pay anything up to 200 plus Dollars or GBP sterling but they are worth it, just a shame the company went bust tried to grow too quick too soon.

      Reply

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