Side Saddle: What’s all the buzz about?
Side Saddle Putting
A few weeks ago at the Shark Shootout, Bryson Dechambeau and his new side saddle-esque putting style were the talk of the town. Following in the footsteps of players like Sam Snead and K.J. Choi before him, he has become the latest notable tour player to utilize this unique method.
What is it?
Whether you call it Face On or Side Saddle, the idea is the same: you’re using your binocular vision (both eyes forward), to get a more natural look at your intended target or line, versus the more traditional method of putting where you use monocular vision (eyes to the side one eye captures the visual field). This in theory should allow the golfer to utilize both eyes to improve visual acuity and thus improve aim, distance control, and depth perception, all of which are important in putting.
The second component to this method is the stroke itself. While not new, it is unique. Instead of croquet style, which is deemed illegal by the USGA, sidesaddle putting essentially has the ball outside of either your left or right foot depending on the way you play. To accomplish this stroke one should have a putter that sits as close to 80 degrees in lie angle (maximum allowable by the USGA), in order to best allow you to replicate the motion needed for this stroke.
- You stand behind the ball to gauge the line and distance of your put.
- Place the putter behind the ball
- Step to the side of the ball and putter
- Ball position should be at least at the toe, if not further forward (experiment with this)
- Stroke the putt using almost a north south motion with your hand and arm.
Is this going to be the next big thing?
Only time will tell if this method takes off with the masses. It has its fans and it has its skeptics. If Bryson can win or contend in a big PGA Tour event using this method, we could see a similar frenzy like in ’86 when Jack won the Masters with the big Response putter. On the other hand, if Bryson does not putt well or ditches the idea altogether, we could see it disappear as fast as it has burst on the scene.
Can it help me?
It is definitely a viable method to putt the golf ball. There are many proponents of the method, touting improved aim, consistency, etc., and in some cases the merits are quantifiable. The one area that might take the most effort in practice is distance control.
Bobby had a chance to spend some time with Bryson at the Shark Shootout and at Impact Zone Golf Headquarters and spoke at length about the putting style and why he chose that method.
Bryson indicated that he felt it was a more efficient, more repeatable putting stroke, and a better way for him to putt. Knowing what he has done with his irons and woods, it is not surprising that he has put this much thought and effort into putting and what might be the best option both from a physics standpoint, but from a players standpoint as well. That combination of thought, from both ends of the spectrum, really makes this method worth investigating further. Once we get our hands on one of these putters at Impact Zone, we will be testing it out extensively on the SAM PUTT Lab and will be discussing some of the results from those tests here, so be sure to keep an eye out.
So, if you are a person that struggles with putting and nothing seems to work, possibly have a case of the yips, or just looking to try something different, this might be a great option to test. If a golfer can get the proper setup and stroke, be willing to put in some time practicing (at least initially), and have thick enough skin to deal with some occasional ribbing from your pals it might be worth a try.