Putting Prescription: James Jordan 9-5-2014

  Golfers: I've written a few articles and blogs in regards to reading putts (Apex, Aimpoint, Relating speed line and beyond the hole) and now feel it's time to address the mess before a putt is even rolled. Here's a comfortable and basic blueprint to setup the foundation in your putting stroke. 

Grip- This is a personal preference. I'd like to see an overlap (right pinkie in between left index and middle finger yet on top of the finger webbing Steve Stricker would be an example) and or reverse overlap ""MORE COMMON" (left index finger on top on left pinkie and middle finger would be an example) however should you feel left hand low, claw, and or another grip set up at address suits your stroke please stay with it. You can work together (be it with me or your local putting specialist) in seeing the good's and bad's of what your current and or new grip produces in the overall stroke. If you feel confident in a grip setup that's different from the norm, we can address it and build form there. There are no absolutes, but I want you to absolutely feel comfortable and confident in the grip you choose to use. 

Harvey Pennick used to tell Ben Crenshaw "you never want to look like anyone else". So don't question the look of your grip if there's comfort and success. 

Grip pressure: On a scale of 1-10, I want your grip pressure to stay within a 3-4 range. Feeling the weight of the putter head is paramount. This allows you to stroke the putt freely. You can keep a little more tension in the finger tips (no more than 5 based on the 1-10 scale) but keep the area of palm region and wrists / forearms soft throughout the stroke. Of the tour players and good players I've been fortunate to meet and spend time with, they all mention a softness in total grip pressure when it comes to the putting stroke. 

Stance: Standard space between feet should be around a foot. As the putts become longer, the stance can become wider to match a greater length in overall stroke. The line of feet & shoulders relative to putter head placed behind the ball (address) should match in parallel fashion to your line or hole location you intend to start the putt. At times, we tend to open (causing a pull) or close (causing a push) the stance / shoulders which generally can cause a golfer to manipulate other unnecessary areas within the stroke. There are even times where golfers pull putts with a closed stance and vice versa. It's a finicky game. Stay as evenly lined up (feet, shoulders, square putter face at address) each time before you strike the putt.

Eye Line: The eye line (the line in which one looks down at the ball vertically) should be traced down to the inside / middle of ball. This suits most players best in striking their putts directly on the middle of the putter face. Too far inside of the ball (example looking at too much green inside the ball) generally results in putts that push to the right. An eye line too far over the ball looking inward generally causes a player to pull putts. Favoring an eye line directly over to inside middle of the ball is best.

Ball Positioning: To allow the putter head to release properly, I find that most player I work with are seeing better success in a ball slightly up in stance. For now, 1 ball up from what would be the middle of your stance. This allows the putter head to release down your intended line more effectively. Be mindful if you do start to see putts pull (go left) and alter the ball positioning back to middle of the stance. Generally, a ball too far forward can cause putts to go left. A ball too far back, results in putts that go right (push). Something to be aware of should all other fundamentals be / feel in order. Obviously ball positioning can vary depending on slope and amount of break but this is the standard for your basic putts. 

The Stroke: Being that you are using the most common of grips and setup, when you look down at your hands slowly pay attention to the triangle formation you've created. Your grip and arms are tension free and in order on the putter handle. This formation should be constant throughout the entire stroke. From here (stock 3-6-9 foot putts) think 50/50 (take away matching post impact)  through the total stroke. The idea is to take the putter head away, and from there continue to keep constant acceleration through the impact position. Obviously this is geared around straight forward flat putts.  Concentrate on holding the finish for 2-3 seconds after the ball has been struck to maintain the line you've intended starting you ball on. The putter head should move freely through the impact position and while holding the finish, the butt of the club should be slightly angles at your naval. 

Additional Areas Of Focus: A few other areas to take a look at (in case you are still troubled with pushes, pulls, speed etc.) are...

Shoulder Alignment: Not to be overlooked. Too open, or closed can result in pulled and or pushed putts. Keep them aligned with the foot line as everything should line up in parallel foundation relative to the line or hole location.

Stabilization Of Knees: Be mindful of the knees not moving out of place (lateral shift or movement in knees during the stroke can cause pushes and or pulled putts).

Head Movement: Keep your head down (Most struggle with a lift of head, but some pros actually eye trace putts effectively so if you are able to see success with a moving head there are no absolutes) well after the putt is struck. Reason being, most who peak too early (lift their head up, look too far forward to soon etc.) create off center contact and usually push putts missing them to the right. Having the putter work with acceleration (through and low, post impact) while keeping the head down for 2-3 seconds, generally starts and keeps the ball much more on it's intended line. Speed and line are much more consistent in the long run.

Golfers: Over the last year, I've spent 100's of hours with many students on the putting greens getting an understanding of their tenancies that challenge them or bring magnificent results. The above material I've presented is the easiest way I can prescribe and describe what's working. There are no absolutes, but based on the notes I take (and the feedback from students and players) these founding fundamentals are a fantastic starting grounds to successful putting. 
I'm always curious to hear about your successes or additional information outside the presented material, that's brought you success as well. For now, get busy with a proper foundation and then the rest will fall into place, or the cup that is.... ;) Always - James Jordan
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