Want a quick way to cut strokes from your golf handicap? Sink More Putts. Putting comprises about 40 percent of your strokes during a round, as we’ve often pointed out in our golf tips newsletter. Thus, they have a big influence on your score. For example, if you shoot 100 and you two putt every green, you’d make 36 putts during the round, which would be 36 percent of the shots you took that day. That’s more than with any other club. If you want to break 80 consistently, you must work hard at your putting.
But if you’re like most weekend golfers, you’ve had days where you couldn’t seem to sink a putt. On these days you often find yourself pushing or pulling putts. Overactive hands often cause these miscues. To be a good putter, you must neutralize your hands. Another reason for pushing or pulling putts is a mismatch between your posture and the path of your putting stroke. You must match posture and putting path to putt well consistently. If you look closely at some of our golf instruction videos, you’ll see what we mean.
Two Basic Postures
Golfers can assume one of two basic putting postures when putting—upright or bent. With an upright posture at address, your shoulders work perpendicular to your spine. In other words, they move “around” rather than up and down. This action automatically opens up the putter face during your stroke, then squares it coming to the ball, since it’s automatic, you don’t need to manipulate the putter during your stroke. Many great PGA players putt this way, including Greg Norman and Ben Crenshaw.
When putting from a bent posture, where your chest faces the ground, your shoulders move more “up and down” than “around.” With this posture your front shoulder moves down and your back shoulder rocks up during your backstroke. You do the opposite with your forward stroke. In other words, your shoulders move at right angles to your spine, like a pendulum, with the putterface remaining square to the target line. Jack Nicklaus and Dave Stockton use this posture.
Match Posture And Stroke
One key to improving putting, we tell students at our golf lessons, is to match your pos-ture at address with your putting stroke. To do that you must allow the putterface to move as your shoulders move. If you use a bent posture, then a pendulum like stroke is ideal, resulting in a square-to-square stroke path. If you choose a more upright posture at address, a more horizontal like stroke is ideal, resulting in an open-to-square putting stroke path.
Judging from what we see in golf instruction sessions, golfers often mis-match posture and stroke path. An upright posture with a square-to-square stroke causes you to pick up the putter, producing pulls and scuffs. Pull a lot putts and you’ll start making adjustments with your hands. That’s not good. It can cause you to lip-out putts. You want to neutralize your hands when putting, as we tell students in golf instruction sessions. A bent posture with an open-to-square stroke, on the other hand, causes pushes. So if you find your-self pushing a lot of putts, try using a more pendulum like putting stroke.
If you decide to change your posture at address, you’ll need to change your putting stroke. If you decide to bend over more, you’ll have a more pendulum like stroke. If you decide to stand upright, you’ll have a more open-to-square like stroke. As we said before, this putting stroke path happens naturally. You don’t have to manipulate the club or putterface to achieve it.
The golf tips above will help you improve your putting—the quickest and easiest way to knock strokes off your golf handicap. When practicing, work on matching your posture at address with your stroke path. An upright posture requires an open to square stroke path, while a bent posture requires a square-to-square putting stroke. Matching your pos-ture with the right putting stroke will help cut down pushes and pulls when putting.