Very quickly SPi instructors are beginning to be recongized as a leader in putting instruction. Below is another fine example of how they are obtaining this. If you need a putting lesson or never have taken one, find your nearest SPi instructor - HERE. Our 230 and growing global SPi instructos WANT to give you a putting lesson.
The Case for Putting Instruction Part 2: Fundamentals and Drills - by SPi Instructor Paul Kaster (GolfWRX.com)
Last month I tried to persuade readers to treat the flat stick with respect when it comes to practice and lessons (You can read it here). In this follow up, I’ll address the so-called fundamentals of putting — grip, alignment, posture and ball position. You’ll also find some useful drills to help you practice putting with concrete objectives and feedback at home or at the course.
Keep in mind that while this piece is somewhat long, many of these ideas are the ones that have been the foundation of great putting careers of players like Payne Stewart and Zach Johnson and countless players who used the SeeMore putting system only in training because their staff contracts with other equipment manufacturers.
We only need to turn on the Golf Channel, or read articles about ongoing debate over anchoring to know that the putting grip is the most hotly debated topics in golf right now. I am not going to address the validity of belly or long putters here, because that’s not the purpose of this article. As far as a conventional putting grip goes, rule No. 1 is that the hands should oppose each other (as if palms were facing each other) because we don’t want either side fighting the other.
It’s notable that Tiger Woods recently regained his putting prowess after Steve Stricker pointed out that the stronger left hand grip Tiger uses for his full swing had crept into his putting. Once Tiger neutralized his grip so his hands were facing each other, he started putting lights out again. Rule No. 2 is that the club should rest in the fingers of both hands with minimal tension. A phrase I use with my juniors is “hot dog in the bun.” This will have a few positive effects — it will prevent your rear hand (the right hand for right handed golfers) from rolling over the front during the stroke, which can easily happen when you hold the grip in your lifeline. It will also get the shaft of the putter to look like an extension of your forearms (when viewed from behind) — a key to a consistent stroke. What many golfers don’t know is that good posture at address can greatly reduce the effect of the rear hand in the stroke, but I’ll get to that in a moment. So, to summarize, the keys to a conventional putting grip are hands facing each other and grip cradled in the fingers with minimal tension.
There are great players who have not lined their body up parallel to the target line when they putted. Jack Nicklaus used an open stance and Jim Furyk stands closed to the target line. The point I try to make to my students (as kindly as possible) is that none of them have the combination of a PGA Tour player’s long-term muscle memory, practice time and physical gifts. Most amateurs need a simple and neutral putting stance because that makes it easy to repeat under pressure with a limited practice schedule.
Standing parallel to the target line with your eyes and shoulders parallel sets you up to make a simple and repeatable stroke without any manipulation. The real alignment key is that the putter absolutely must be aimed at your intended target because face angle, not path, exerts the majority of control over the direction the ball travels.
The first step is to figure out whether you are in fact aiming at your target. The first thing I do with my students is measure their alignment using a device made by SeeMore called the Triangulator which can be purchased for $15 on the company’s website. There are a variety of laser aiming devices that are much more expensive, but the Triangulator does the job just as well. The vast majority of players I work with, including low handicap amateurs and a few professionals, aimed substantially wide of their target on a ten foot putt when I first measured them.
Once you establish what your aiming fault is, you can begin working to correct the alignment of your body and the club face. I use a SeeMore putter and encourage my students to do the same because they are the only putters that help a golfer learn to consistently line up the club and their body while they practice, and keep them on track while they play. So, if you wanted two catch phrases for the keys to putting alignment, they are “putter face aimed at the intended target” and “eyes, shoulders and feet parallel to the target line.”
Paul Kaster is the Director of Golf at High Bridge Hills Golf Club in scenic Hunterdon County, N.J. He learned the game on Chicago’s only 18-hole public golf course, Jackson Park G.C., and went on to play Division I college golf, and on mini tours including the Tar Heel Tour (now EGolf Tour), and the 2001 Golden Bear Tour (now Gateway Tour). After leaving the golf business to successfully pursue a career in law, Paul returned to his first love to share his passion for the game and for learning with his students. He is a Certified SPi Putting Instructor with the SeeMore Putter Company and a member of Bridgestone Golf's professional staff.