Putting is probably the most personal element of the game of golf, there isn’t one set standard of strokes, stances or grips. Sure there are certain guidelines all putters follow, but each element can be individualized.
As for those guidelines, I will break these things down into categories that include: setup/grip and stroke.
We’ve all seen people putt with cross-handed grips, paintbrush grips and split handed grip. So what is right?
Well that’s where a putter’s individual stroke becomes personal in nature.
The main focus on the grip is to allow the hands to work together as a unit.
Many people find the traditional grip allows the dominant hand (right hand for right handed players and vice versa) to become the controlling hand.
This is the reason why so many players try to find other alternatives to lessen the control of the dominant hand. We never want one hand to control another; we want them to work together.
Posture is also another personal element of putting.
The main focus I tend to have is whether or not your current posture allow your arms to swing under your shoulders.
I tend to have my students bend from the waist more to allow the arms to swing freely. The less bend from the waist a player has decreases his/her ability for free swinging arms.
The stance is more universal than the grip and posture.
Most players tend to stand with their feet about shoulder width apart with the ball being positioned forward of center. The forward placement of the golf ball allows for immediate roll of the ball. Make sure to allow for a small amount of flex in the knees for stability. Locked legs tend to be much less stable when trying to produce and athletic motion.
The old saying that goes “different strokes for different folks” also applies to putting.
For example, Ben Crenshaw used a stroke that had a considerable arc and was considered one of the best of all time, whereas Tiger Woods uses a stroke with less arc and we all know how good he is.
My main focus is to allow the shoulders to swing the arms and the hands. When the shoulders are the controlling force, the stroke is generally more consistent and allows for more solid contact.
To understand how the shoulders control the stroke, I use the analogy of a pendulum on a grandfather clock.
The body’s sternum is the axis and the arms areg the pendulum rod.
The shoulders rock back and forth which allows the arms to swing. The arms should never swing independently.
The last focus and one of the keys to putting is acceleration. I always like to see a slight amount of acceleration on the forward stroke. This allows for a shorter, more consistent stroke.
Bryan Raines is the golf professional at Ashton Hills Golf Course and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.