Tips from the Pro
May 17, 2006
The ability to get the ball in the hole is the most sought-after skill in the game of golf. Putting is a source of heartbreak and jubilation that continues to baffle the golf mind of players at all ability levels. Why is putting so difficult? The putter is the shortest club in the bag and requires the least amount of movement from the body.
Consistency in the putting stroke is what all golfers are looking for. The amount of acceleration must remain constant in order to gain the feel of how far the ball will roll across the green. The acceleration in your putting stroke should be compared to a school bus at a green light versus a sports car. If the acceleration is the same in your putting stroke, change the length of your stroke to modify how far you want the ball to roll.
With the previous information working on feel, here are a few tips to help with the mechanics of putting. Play the ball a bit forward in your stance to help achieve the optimum loft of four degrees. With a quiet lower body and no wrist action, use the shoulders to control the speed and tempo of the putting stroke. As soon as the small muscles become involved in the swing (wrist), a repetitive stroke is very difficult to develop. We all know there should be no movement of the head during the putting stroke, but where should the eyes be lined up in relation to the golf ball? The eyes should either be over the ball or just inside the stroke line. With the ball in this position, the shoulders will be able to swing naturally back and through the ball.
The debate over how you should hold the putter is never ending. Left hand low, traditional, and claw variations are all examples of ways to hold the putter. Personal preference will be the deciding factor for each individual golfer. In talking about the grip, make sure your right palm is facing the target (right handed golfer). The main benefit of left hand low and the claw, is the ability to keep the wrists from breaking down during the swing. I suggest, if you are curious, to try these other grips and see how they affect your putting.
Now that golf weather has finally reached us here in the mountains, get out to your favorite golf facility and try these tips on putting. Remember, only perfect practice makes perfect.
Ben Sinclair is a PGA member and golf pro at the Park City Golf Club.
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