A-Z Putting (U): Understanding Your Stroke

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Understanding your stroke will help you putt better

Watch the best golfers in the world and you will quickly see that some favour a straighter stroke, in which the putter tracks up and down the ball- target line, while others prefer more of an arcing motion.

Both can be effective, and it is one of those areas of putting that comes down to personal choice. However, it is important to realise the shape of the stroke is strongly influenced by how you address the ball. As long as your set-up matches your preferred shape, you can putt well.

Check Your Arc: You can check your path using the flagstick. Lie it on the ground then trace your stroke over the top. Work on seeing the toe over the pin at the end of the backswing and follow-through.

Square Path: Again, check the path of your stroke against the flagstick. The centre of the putter should remain over the pin back and through, though a subtle opening and closing of the face is fine.

These are the differences between an Arcing stroke and a Straight stroke

Arcing Stroke: Stands taller, hands higher

Eyeline: Inside the ball
Arc putters set their heads a little 'inside' the ball; drop a ball from your nose and it'd land between the ball and your toes. The more inside your eyeline, the more the arc in the stroke.

Posture: Taller
In harmony with the eyeline position, the arc putter's posture is typically taller, with less forward tilt from the hips and less knee flex. This taller position helps set the golfer 'inside' the ball, promoting a more in-to-in action.

Hand position: High
The arc putter will tend to feel their wrists arch upwards as they stand to the ball. Higher hands encourage face rotation, which works in harmony with an arcing stroke.

Straight Stroke: More bent over

Eyeline: Over the ball
The square-to-square putter sets his eyes more over the ball. The upper back is often rounded to allow him to look squarely down at it, a position that encourages a more vertical rocking of the shoulders.

Posture: Sharper Angles
These head and upper spine positions are a orded by a sharper tilt from the hips, balanced out by more knee flex. This gives the square putter a more bent over look, the eyes closer to the ball. This is why a shorter flatstick typically works best.

Hand Position: Under Chest
While both shapes work with a straight line between shaft and forearms, the square putter's hands fall under the shirt buttons, while the arc putter's are under the nose or chin.