Putting has long been one of the most important but frustrating parts of the golf game. For many it feels like a fully separate game that must be played within the game of golf. Ben Hogan thought that a putt should only count for half a stroke. That of course is not how it is, so if you want to improve your putting - there’s no better place to start than a proper putting stance.
In this article we will cover...
Body & Feet Alignment
The most commonly taught putting stance is one where your body and feet are aligned parallel to the intended line of the putt. Much like your full swing set-up, it is difficult to see if your alignment is open or closed relative to your target line after you have addressed the ball. For this reason it is helpful when you practice to use an alignment rod on the ground to help align your stance. If you set up slightly open or closed to the line of your putt, it is common for your stroke to follow your feet resulting in a putt that is pushed right or pulled left of your line (for a right hand golfer). Here are some tips to help you develop a proper putting stance, square to the line of your putt.
- Use an alignment rod on the ground for reference. When you practice putting use an alignment rod on the ground next to your ball, parallel to the line of your putt - like a railroad track. Point your feet directly forward and perpendicular to the alignment rod. This helps you create a stable base for executing a good putting stroke.
- Align your club face. It’s critical that your club face points down the line of your putt. Many putting instructors think clubface alignment is the most important element to starting the ball on the right line. Align the leading edge of the putter perpendicular to the rod you placed on the ground if you need help in setting it squarely behind the ball.
- Align your knees, hips, and shoulders. Your body alignment should follow the alignment of your feet. If you are wearing a Swing Align swing training device all you have to do is look down and match the alignment rod across your arms with the alignment rod on the ground. Swing Align develops visual and muscle memory and helps you develop a consistent, repeatable and proper putting stance. Taking the time to practice your putting while wearing a Swing Align device will help you set up and roll the ball more consistently.
- Practice with Swing Align on your lower body. As an alternative to wearing a Swing Align on your upper body, try putting with the device on your legs just above the knees. This alternative view can help both your alignment and lower body stability (which is covered later in this article). This technique really helps you stay square and stable throughout your entire stroke, which is something in common among the best putters.
Putting Ball Position
Let’s start with the easy part. Your ball should be positioned just forward of the middle of your stance. Determining how close the ball should be to your body is a bit more complicated. It is generally agreed that you should set your putting posture so that your eyes are positioned directly above or just slightly inside of the ball. What complicates this process is the length of your putter. Many golfers use a putter that is too long and it forces their eyes to be too far back instead of over the ball. If your eyes are over the ball when you putt you can easily rotate your head to see down the intended line. So be sure to use a putter length that allows you to make the proper putting stance. Choke down on the grip a little if needed to get your eyes in the right position.
Foot Width & Weight Distribution
Slight variations in stance width are ok but in general, imagine you are hitting a #7 iron and use that for your stance width when putting. If that feels too wide, set your feet at the width of your hips. Keep in mind if your stance gets too narrow it is easy to sway during your stroke making it difficult to hit your putts solidly and squarely. In terms of weight distribution you want your stroke to bottom out in the center of your stance which is just behind your ball position, which means you want your weight evenly distributed so that you are not leaning forward or back. The great Arnold Palmer putted with his knees pointed toward each other to create stability and equal weight distribution.
Lower Body Stability
When making a proper putting stroke it is important to keep your lower body from turning, like it does in a full swing. Think of your upper body as a pendulum and move the putter with your shoulders while keeping your legs stable. Where you normally turn your lower body in a full swing to produce power, with a putting stroke it is much more important to maintain stability and control. The backswing of your putting stroke should be similar in length to your follow through - smooth and stable. This aspect of stability can most easily be improved with the use of a Swing Align. If you wear a Swing Align on your lower body it will make any movement immediately obvious. The goal is to keep the alignment rod on your legs rock steady throughout the entire stroke.
GO: Maintain lower body stability during your putting stroke.
NO GO: Moving your lower body during your putting stroke will cause poorly hit putts.
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