Tom’s Featured Tip:

Own Your Putting Stroke(s)

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!

Almost daily, I read articles either praising or condemning a square to square putting stroke or an arc to square putting stroke. I don’t think anyone uses an arc to square to arc stroke, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see an article on it.

Dave Pelz, a recognized putting guru, swears by the square to square stroke, which he calls a P.I.L.S. stroke – Pure In Line Putting Stroke. He claims that it is by far the most reliable putting stroke. I for one buy into that – with one reservation which I’ll talk about later.

Geoff Mangum, another recognized putting guru, stands behind the arc to square stroke.

There are benefits and problems with each stroke. For many, especially on long putts, it’s difficult to execute a square to square stroke without manipulating your hands. Others feel that with an arc to square stroke, you run the risk of over-rotating the putterhead at impact, closing the face, and losing your line and your distance control.

I think the arc to square stroke feels more natural than the square to square stroke, but I also feel that the square to square produces better results.

When I coached a very successful GCC Golf Team, I learned that it was unproductive to try and make players that have a naturally arcing stroke change to a square to square stroke – for their long putts that is. It was however, very productive to insist on square to square for putts in the 6 foot and closer range.

In fact it was off the charts productive for those players that had been consciously trying to “arc stroke” their short putts. They started holing everything after they adapted.

That got me thinking along the lines of “why do players think they need to use only one putting style?” We fine tune our iron shots to hit them high, low, or to curve them. Why can’t the same thought process apply to putting: use two different stroke styles for different distances.

Since I am very focused on results for my students on the putting green, I developed a hybrid philosophy and system for putting that’s really pretty simple: use two different stroke styles to go for feel on lag putts, and to go for cold blooded results on short putts – even if it feels a little mechanical at first. (I’m overstating the mechanical aspect, because if you practice enough it won’t feel mechanical for too long)

If you are looking for better results on the putting green, here’s how you can improve by adapting two different stroke styles into your putting:
For lag putts, do not obsess about keeping your stroke square to square. Use your natural comfortable setup with whatever stroke path you have naturally, but recite “straight back – straight through” to yourself as you stroke your putt. It won’t alter your natural arc to square path, but it will help you keep the face oriented correctly at impact.

For your short makeable putts, crouch down a bit, set up with much more bend at the waist, choke well down on the shaft, and do concentrate on a square to square stroke as you recite “straight back – straight through” as you stroke your putt – even if it means manipulating your hands a bit to get it done. It’s the money stroke for short putts – period.

Note that the more you bend from the waist, the easier it will be to execute the square to square stroke path; the taller you stand the more difficult it gets. Try to get your eyes over – but not beyond – the ball for either style.

I think you’ll also find that your outer limit range for “short makeable putts” will start extending a bit, but stay with a comfortable stroke for your lag putts. I’ve observed that it can be difficult to lag long putts with the crouched and bent setup that is required fo execute a pure square to square stroke.

I have so much belief in this putting stroke philosophy and method (I’ve been teaching it exclusively for about four years), that I’ll give you the seldom bestowed TCT Guarantee that if you putt this way you’ll lower your handicap.

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

Tom’s Bonus Tip:
Indoor Lessons

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!

My outdoor lesson season is done until next spring, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t improve any and all aspects of your swing – including putting – between now and then. You can keep moving forward with indoor lessons.

Last winter was my first year conducting indoor lessons at Plum Creek with the AboutGolf Simulator, the same one you see on the Golf Channel. I felt that it was a resounding success, my students loved it and so did I.

My students that made the most gains over the last couple of years kept their swings tuned up with indoor lessons over the winter, and I had quite a few new students and couples lessons also.

The pricing and packages are the same as for an outdoor lesson, and we never have to worry about Mother Nature. So if you want to keep working on your swing, or if you simply want to start to make improvements, why not give indoor lessons a try.

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