The Putting Stroke

Posted on: 28 May 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

We reveal the skills behind a perfect putt shot.

Putting is the most individual aspect of the game. Just look at any tour event and you will see a multitude of different styles of putting stroke.

So there is more than one way to get the ball into the hole on a consistent basis. There are, however, certain characteristics that are common to the majority of very fine putters.

This is the conventional wisdom of great putting.

You may have your own style, but if you want to make a lot of putts it pays to integrate these core elements into your technique.

Eyes Over The Ball

Ball position is as important in the putting stroke as it is in the full swing.

There are two factors to bear in mind. Firstly, the ball should be forward in your stance to encourage a slight ascending blow when the putter face meets the ball. That imparts a good roll on your putts.

Secondly, your eyes should ideally be directly over the ball, as this gives you the best perspective of the line from the ball to the hole.

One simple routine helps give you the perfect ball position. Adopt a comfortable posture and then drop a golf ball from the bridge of your nose.

The spot on which it lands represents perfect ball position from you.

Shoulders & Eyes Parallel

Once you have the ideal ball position in your stance, the next key requirement is to have your shoulder-line and eye-line parallel to the path on which you want the ball to start.

You can check very easily that these two crucial checkpoints are maintained.

Hold the shaft of the putter along the top of your chest. The line of the shaft should match the target line; if so it will help promote an on-line stroke.

Also hold the shaft along your eye-line and see if it corresponds with the target line.

If so, it further improves your perspective to help you visualise the path the ball must take on its journey to the hole.

Swing Secrets

Maintain the angle in the back of the left wrist

Hands stay soft on the putter throughout the stroke

Think “left shoulder down” in the back-stroke

Think “left shoulder up” in the through-stroke

Keep the head down until you hear the ball drop

Take Dead Aim

The aim of the putter is obviously a crucial determining factor in how many putts you make. After all, if you don’t aim correctly, how can you be expected to hit your target?

One method that should help you eliminate the likelihood of poor aim is to place the golf ball on the green in such a way that the manufacturer’s name corresponds exactly with the line-on which you want the ball to start its journey.

You should then set the putterface behind the ball so that it is exactly perpendicular to that line.

Alternatively, draw a line on the ball. This is very effective method, adopted by many of the leading players, because it provides you with a visual image of the perfect aim and path to the hole.

Keep Your Head Still

Any head movement before the ball is struck, knocks the shoulders – and therefore the putter – out of its natural path; this leads to a crooked stroke and a missed putt.

It is particularly common (and damaging) on short putts, where there is a tendency for golfers to take an anxious peek and see if the ball is heading towards the hole.

One of the key objectives for any good putter, therefore, must be to keep the head rock-still throughout the stroke.

The simplest way to achieve this is to commit to keeping your head down until you hear the sound of the ball dropping in the hole.

Keep Steady

The head stays rock-steady until the ball is on its way.

Maintain The Unit

A slightly fatter-than-standard grip is popular with many top players, as it tends to help keep the hands and wrists “quieter” during the stroke.

No Movement

From the waist down, everything stays still during the stroke. Imagine your legs are set to concrete.

Keep On Track

From short range, imagine the face of the putter looks at the hole through impact.

Solid Base

Your weight should be evenly spread between both feet, with a sense that they are very much planted for a secure base to the stroke.

Maintain The Perfect Triangle

Throughout the putting stroke you should try to maintain the triangle formed at address by the shoulders and arms.

The stroke should never be wooden, but neither should it have too many independent moving parts.

It should be soft yet coordinated motion that involves the hands, arms and shoulders all working together.

To encourage this harmony of movement, think of the stroke being controlled predominantly by the rocking motion of the shoulders.

The hands and arms then respond to the momentum created by this rocking motion, so that the putter tracks a neat path back and through.

It helps if you focus on maintaining throughout the stroke the triangle formed at address by the shoulders and the arms.

Once again it is worth stressing that the hands should stay soft on the putter and that, while some softness in the wrists is desirable, there should not be too much independent wrist action as that can lead to an erratic stroke and lack of consistency.

The Golf BookThis extract is taken from DK's The Golf Book, available at all good bookshops or online from Amazon.

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