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Pro Golf Tips: The Putting Stroke

by Bob Augustine

There are four aspects to short game: putting, chipping, pitching and bunker play.

You can play one of these shots from anywhere around the green. Your experience and skill level will determine which is the best one for you in a given situation. I am going to start this series of articles with putting.

The object of the putting stroke is simply to roll the ball down the correct line to the hole at the appropriate speed. The following will be a simple guideline for golfers to follow to accomplish this goal. We will start with the address positions.

Any grip that will square the face of the putter to the line of the putt at impact is allowed. However, I would recommend having both palms parallel to each other and the face of the putter, with both thumbs directly down the top of the shaft. It would be helpful if the putter had an aim line on the head to give a line reference. That line would be aimed through the center of the ball down the line the golfer wants his ball to start. He should stand with the ball in the center of his stance, if his weight is evenly distributed right and left. If his putter fits him, his chin will be up, his back will be fairly straight, his arms will hang at length, he will bend at the hips with slightly bent knees, and he will be in good balance. With a well fitting putter, the golfer will have his eyes directly over the ball. The width of the stance is a matter of personal preference, but it should allow the golfer to maintain stability during the stroke. It is very important that the shoulders and forearms are lined up parallel to the target line.

The putting stroke itself is a pendulum type of motion, with the center of the stroke (the fulcrum) suspended over the ball. The putter will be moved with the putter shaft, hands, arms and shoulders moving as a unit. This motion will be controlled with a rocking motion of the shoulders. The body should be kept still and the eyes fixed on the ball. If everything is done properly, the ball will be struck with the putter moving down the line, the face square and the bottom of the strokes arc level to the ground. The amount of roll will be determined by the length and pace of the stroke.

A quick thought about the fit of the putter. The average off-the-rack putter does not fit many golfers. Usually they are too long, especially for the ladies. Have your professional take a look at your club to see if that is the case. Many times your putter can be altered to get the perfect fit.

Bob Augustine is a PGA instructor and the director of instruction at Peninsula State Park Golf Course.

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