Tuesday, September 06, 2022


My putting has been awful this summer, which I'm looking at more as a problem to solve than a sports thing. 

I haven't played much real golf, because the summer just got away from me, and when Eli 20.1 was home, he was still working, so we would go play tennis or something that took less time than golf. 

My putting hasn't been good in years. My stroke is inconsistent; I decelerate the putter on short putts, I read greens poorly, etc. In short, I suck. 

This was briefly worse because I played so much Walkabout Golf on the Quest 2. Without the weight of an actual putter, playing so many rounds of virtual putting meant I had absolutely no feel for putting in the real world. I couldn't even really putt the ball with a real putter because it felt incredibly strange. 

Okay, problem solving. 

First step: order a weighted club handle that I can fit the Quest controller into, which at least means I'm putting with the feel of weight. 

Second step: there's a course in Walkabout called Arizona Modern, and the 18th hole is very straight, very flat, and very long. In the real world, I'd say it would be over 100 feet. There's also a railing that casts an absolutely straight shadow for the length of the hole right up to the cup. 

I started practicing on this hole every day, just trying to keep the ball straight for as long as possible. That quickly showed that my putting stroke was erratic. I adjusted by gripping the putter further down, which straightened me left arm, giving me essentially a rigid lever to work with. 

I also had to figure out what putter strength to use in settings that would most closely correspond to the real world. That's finally dialed in now. 

So I practice 15-20 minutes a day virtually, practicing that hole over and over again, which is easy because you can replay the tee shot every time. So I'll just pick a spot on the shadow and putt to it.

If you're wondering how that translates to the real world, well, it sucked at first. In the last couple of weeks, though, it's gotten much, much better, to the point where I have more confidence now, and my stroke is much more reliable. I still have some old habits, but they don't happen very often. 

This also gives me a great option for practicing in the winter, because there's just no way to do it up here from December-March (and usually for a few weeks on either side of that, too). 

I think it will be common for players in many sports to use virtual reality to improve their games in the coming years. Mini-golf will always be one of the most fun, though. 

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