Putting Stroke Fundamentals
The basics of a fundamentally sound putting stoke is one where the lower body stays stationary, the head is properly positioned and the upper body, the arms and shoulders, form a triangular shape and moves with a pendulum motion. Ideally, you should swing the putter back and through at the same speed with a sense of rhythm. The goal is to return the clubface back to a square position at impact along the target line and that stokes the ball with topspin towards the hole.
To begin with, let us first explain what is meant by forming a triangle with your upper body. An imaginary triangle is formed between your arms and shoulders. Notice what is meant by this with the image to the right. Throughout your swing you will want to keep this triangle intact and the arms and shoulders working together as one unit. Then like the pendulum movement of a grandfather clock is how you want to stoke the ball.
You want almost no wrist or hand action because they are too hard to control and keep your putter head square and on the target line. Never allow your wrists to unhinge.
Putting Stoke Length: The length of your backstroke should be about the same distance as your follow through length.
It is important to regulate your distance by changing the length of your stroke and by trying to apply sudden burst of power with your hands. For instance, you do not want to make a 30 foot by taking the club back only a few inches and then suddenly trying to hit hard to make the hole.
Your goal is a smooth, slow and even pace stroke with the shoulders moving in steady pendulum motion. The length of the backstroke is an area where some pro trainers recommend different advice. Some advocate the 1/3 – 2/3 rule. That is, take the putter back 1/3 the length and the follow through should be 2/3 of the total length.
However, the one thing that is agreed upon is do not have your backstroke greater than your follow through. Secondly, your controlling distance by varying the length of your stoke.
The Role of Your Wrists: Basically, you do not want your wrist to be playing any role in your putting stoke. What you do not want are your wrist to flex like in the photo to the right. This is normally disastrous and will result in to much play in the putter head.
However, on very long putts it is okay for a little amount of wrist hinging because it starts to become too hard to keep your lower body stable and your posture correct. But never the less, keep in mind that you only want to use your wrists only as much as is absolutely necessary.
The Backswing: Begin to move the putter head back a long the target line. Use your triangle and keep your lower body still and your head still with your eye focused on the ball. Remember the length of the backstroke will dictate the length of the putt.
Down Swing: The most important thing is to return the club head square at impact. Keep your arms, hands and shoulders working together and your putter should be low to the ground. Maintain a smooth and steady pace and let the club naturally accelerate.
The Follow Through: The left wrist should remain flat and the right shoulder will lower. The putting stroke will continue along the target line until the length is the same as the backswing.
Keep a Steady Head: Never look up until well after you hit the ball and fully completed your back swing. Many golfers simply fail at this even though they know not to peek and are anxious to look up. A good practice tip to incorporate into your routine is to count to two before looking up.
Lower Body: Keep your feet, knees and hips from moving and your lower body should not have any movement. Any movement in this area will throw off your upper body and prevent a correct swing path.
Eyes: Remember to position your eyes directly over the ball. They should always be parallel to the target line of the putt.
Pace and Rhythm: The feeling of your swing should be one of a smooth, flowing motion. Do not force the pace of your swing but do accelerate through the ball. The putter should have the same pace on the backswing and follow through but it is important that it gains speed as it strikes the ball.