5 Lines at address to ensure a smooth putting stroke
By PGA TOUR Golf Academy at World Golf Village
To be successful on the greens, you need to putt instinctively. In other words, your stroke should flow naturally from your setup. The very last thing you want to be thinking about when you take the putter back is something mechanical. The following five lines at address will help you putt more instinctively. Furthermore, they encourage the proper stroke mechanics, which include minimal putterface rotation and a putterhead path that travels on a slight arc back and through.
Hold the putter shaft out in front of you so it’s parallel to the ground and directly in line with your forearms (see photo, above). Maintain this straight-line relationship as you bow forward and sole the putterhead on the ground, keeping both elbows relatively tight to your body.
When you sole the putterhead on the ground, the shaft should be on the same angle, or plane, as your forearms (see photo, above). That’s line No. 1. To achieve this position, you need to grip the putter more through the palms and less in the fingers, which eliminates excessive hand action through the stroke. By having the shaft in line with your forearms, it’s also much easier to keep your arms, hands, and shaft moving together as one throughout the stroke.
If you’re standing the correct distance from the ball, your eyes should be directly over to slightly inside the ball (line No. 2), as pictured above. This will give you a clear view of your intended target line.
In the very same address position, your hands should rest directly under your shoulder line (line No. 3), leaving ample space between your hands and your body. Stand too close or too far away from the ball and it makes it challenging to swing the putter on the correct arc—too close and you’re likely to move the putterhead outside the line and cut across the ball; too far away and you’ll swing the head on too big an arc (i.e., too much around the body). The latter generally results in a push, whereas the former tends to produce a pulled or sliced putt.
Balance your weight over the center of your feet so that your hips are directly over the outside of your heels (line No. 4). By distributing your center of gravity over the balls of your feet (see photo, above), your lower body will remain very passive during the stroke, helping you deliver the center of the putterface to the ball more consistently. Allow your weight to drift to your toes or heels and you’ll have to counterbalance your weight, which can cause excessive body movement and inconsistency.
Position the shaft perpendicular to the ground (line No. 5) to preserve the built-in loft (3-4 degrees) on your putter. The goal is to contact the ball with a level to slightly ascending attack angle, and setting the shaft in a vertical position at address (see photo, above) helps accomplish that. Hit down with too much forward shaft lean or up on the ball and it won’t come off as fast, or roll as true, making it harder to judge your distances correctly.
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