Posted December. 19, 2008 07:48,
Rha Il-ju lost his putting touch. Like many other golfers, it happened all of sudden.
Rha, 54, an education professor at Seoul National University, was a single golfer with some 10 years of experience under his belt. His best score was an even par 72.
He once touched the putter only 26 times throughout an 18-hole round. New golf empress Shin Ji-yais average number of putts per domestic competition is 27.59 this season.
Rha was puzzled when he unexpectedly encountered difficulty in putting four years ago. He even considered quitting golf last year when he bogeyed after four putts, even after making a two-on on the par five 18th hole of Konjiam Country Club.
It was difficult to give up what he loved doing, however. Early this year, he changed how he looked at his performance, saying, Perhaps it was more method than poor talent. Since then, he has academically approached the problem by inventing finger-bone putt grips. His average score, which was stuck at around 100, has also returned to normal.
Unlike the existing palm grip, the new grips take advantage of finger bones that can subtly control power. For right-handed people, the position of their left hand remains unchanged but that of their right hand has been altered. A golfer can use the index, middle or ring finger or pinkie. Rha has named the grips no finger, one finger, twin finger and three finger grips depending on how many fingers are seen on a putter. Different grips can be used according to the situation or depending on what is more comfortable.
Rha is not the first golfer to use this type of grip. Park Do-kyu, who has grabbed four golf titles in Korea, pushes his putter with his index finger. Parks grip technically falls into the category of no finger grip. But what draws attention to Rhas new grips is that he has systemized a new set of efficient techniques based on physics, biomechanics and kinesiology.
With the help of Seoul National University, he applied for a patent in Korea last month and will do the same in the United States next year. His thesis on the subject will soon be published as a book.
Unlike the demanding palm grip putting, which requires maintenance of a pendulum posture by forming a pentagon from the shoulders to fingertips, finger grip putting is easy and dramatically reduces the chance of making a mistake, given that a player needs only to swing the right hand back and forth, according to Rha.
He said his methods employ science rather than intuition, adding that the palm grip poses many problems. The excellent putting skills of the worlds top golfers are a result of hard work, not excellent grip techniques, he added.
Anyone can learn my grip techniques without difficulty as your right wrist will not move by itself. You can always send the ball to your desired direction by aiming at the sweet spot. Once the patent is registered, it will bring about an innovation in putting methods and golf equipment, said Rha.
Professional players may find it difficult to change their putting styles, but K.J. Choi and Michelle Wie can achieve much better results if they use my grips.
In the early 1990s, when every golfer used palm grips as if holding a baseball bat, Harry Vardon devised the overlapping grip, where the right pinkie is placed on top of the left hand. The Vardon grip is now seen at fairway golf clubs all over the world.
Perhaps, the Rha grips will dominate the green in the 2000s.