Sweet Spot

In Technical , posted by Virginia on

Just like the golf swing, there are basically only three things that make the ball go on line or off line: the path, the position of the clubface and the quality of impact.

If you have control of your path, then you have control of your initial direction; if you have control of your initial direction (with a putt), you can then let the green do the work (in a full shot, you let the spin do the work). The way I teach putting and the full swing is to focus on these three principles.

People forget that the quality of the strike is everything in putting. Within a fraction of a second of hitting the ball, you know whether or not you have struck it on the correct line. It’s instinctive; you feel it off the putter-face.

Another thing people tend to forget is that there is a vertical as well as a horizontal sweetspot on every putter-face. The ball is 1.68 inches in diameter, so the sweet-spot on your putter needs to be 0.84 inches above the ground to strike the equator of the ball, which is your goal. You want to get the sweet- spot of the putter meeting the sweet- spot of the ball.

And you can see that when I match the sweet-spots, the putter is raised up a little. In other words, the putter has to be released on the up as it works through impact in order to strike the equator of the ball. The whole of the putter – i.e. head, shaft and grip – has to be released (not ‘blocked’ or manipulated) as it swings up through impact.

Rock the handle down then up, and roll the ball like the game’s greatest putters

Years ago, I remember reading about an experiment that was conducted to determine the common denominators of the really great putters. And the only thing that was discovered (other than the fact great putters holed lots of putts) was that the handle of the putter went down and then up through the course of the stroke. In other words, the butt-end of the grip could be seen to work down a little in the backswing before working up as the putter was released through the ball. That single finding is something that I have stressed to all of my pupils ever since, whether they be aspiring tour players or keen club golfers.

The fact is, good putters strike the ball so much more sweetly than poor putters. They get the ball rolling and hugging the green. Poor putters tend to ‘trap’ the ball between the putter-face and the surface of the green, and never really get the ball running true off the face. What you have to remember is that the pure weight of the ball on grass causes it to sit down into the surface of the green.

On firm and quick greens, probably 3-4% of the ball sinks into the green (more on slow greens), and so to get it out of that small indentation it has to be struck on the equator as the putter works up. And that’s why you have to work on hitting it with a little loft and slightly ‘on the up’ – as all the great putters do.

So there’s a first principle to keep firmly in mind. We talk a lot about checking matters of alignment and ball position – quite rightly but when it comes to effectively improving¬†your putting stroke, this is a critical element of technique that you need to be aware of.
So work on the exercise above; get the handle of the putter working down and then up for that slightly ascending through-stroke that gets the ball rolling true.

The Reflex Drill

In a solid stroke, the left shoulder works down and then up – just like the handle of the putter.

Hands remain neutral on the grip and passive throughout the stroke, enabling you to maintain this controlling unit while developing good tempo with the gentle rocking of the shoulders.

Hitting at the ball with the putter is often the cause of poor ballstriking on the greens (and likewise in the full swing). You see it everyday: flicking at it with the putter-head can cause a player to pull a putt, while hitting at it with the hands (i.e. ‘driving’ a putt) can result in a block.

Either way, the ball’s not going to drop.

The key to long-term consistency is that (1) you learn to develop a repeating pendulum-type stroke that is controlled by the upper body and (2) that you then fine-tune that stroke to produce the smooth upstroke that (as far as is physically possible) eliminates the ‘hit’.

Source Putt Like a Pro Pete Cowan