Tom Tucker’s Featured Golf Tip comes to us from Tom Tucker, teaching professional at Plum Creek driving range in Batavia.

Q&A: Arcing Stroke or Straight Back – Straight Through?

For the sake of simplicity, all advice on swings and drills is provided from a right handed perspective; lefties …. well, you know what to do!

Q: “Hi Tom, I follow your newsletters faithfully and I have a question about a dilemma I’m having. What stroke do you recommend for putting – an arcing stroke or straight back – straight through?”   Thanks in advance for your answer, Richard W.

A: Thanks for the question Richard. I actually recommend both types of strokes for most players.

Let’s define these stroke methods first.

An arcing stroke is a stroke that is is taken back a little to the inside, then the putter is returned on the forward stroke squarely to the ball on the same path that it was taken away on, and the putter chases the ball down the aimline for two or three inches then comes a little inside on the extended follow through. The putter head has the appearance of opening on the takeaway and closing at impact – announcers on TV sometimes mistakenly refer to this motion as a release ot the putterhead – but that’s not always the case. Often times it’s an arcing stroke with the putterhead held square to the stroke path throughout the whole stroke. The path simply arcs then returns square to the ball.

A straight back – straight through stroke is exactly as it sounds. The putterhead stays right on the aimline throughout the whole stroke, with the putterface square to the aimline for length of the whole stroke.

I would actually prefer that all of my students use the straight back – straight through method all of the time, but years of experience have shown me that some players can not execute that type of stroke on long putts.

As a result, I advocate using both stroke methods, just like Tiger Woods – and many other pros – do.

For your long putts – pure lag putts – concentrate mostly on speed amd that your putter head chases the ball for two to three inches down the line after your stroke. This stroke most likely will arc a bit on the takeaway. It shouldn’t be too big of a deal as long as you concentrate on speed do not consciously “release” the putter head at impact. By this I mean do not consciously rotate the face of your putter closed at impact. That move, which it seems that some announcers on TV advocate, will wreak havoc on your distance control and your accuracy. Just let the putterhead stay square to your swing arc, nothing more, nothing less.

For short putts, and you can define that as any putt that you consider to be makable, I insist that my students use the straight back – straight through stroke method, because it’s been conclusively proven to be the most accurate method. Period. Not my research, Dave Pelz’s, and he does good research.

I’ve seen – and own – several exotic training aids that help you groove this stroke, but the best training aid that I use for developing this method is home made. Two 36″ two by fours, the inside one laid flat the outside one laid on edge, set just a bit wider apart than your putter head.

Set them up on your living room floor, and simply practice the straight back and straight through stroke repeatedly – back and forth, back and forth, between these two “rails” for 100 reps at a time. No hole, no ball, just pure stroke practice.

Then take them to a putting green and practice four footers with a ball.

This type of practice will make you so good you might scare yourself!

Love your practice, enjoy your golf, own your swing,


Tom Tucker and Plum Creek Driving Range