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Just like with the full swing, getting your body in the right position to allow you to hit the ball is the foundation for the putting stroke. Set yourself up for success on the putting green by setting yourself up correctly when approaching the ball. My golf philosophy is that there is no “fundamental truth” on the “100% correct” way to do something. A putting posture that works for one student may not work for another student. In this article, we will explore different putting grips like the claw putting grip and the traditional putting grip and why one might work the best for one student while the other works better for another. Ultimately, the best putting posture is the one that allows you to roll the ball on target. While there are so many different potential putting setups, in the sections below, I will walk you through the fundamentals and the top things to check for to help you perfect your putting posture and start rolling some great putts!
What’s one of the first things we tell a young child learning to play any sport? “Keep your eye on the ball”. Not only are the eyes the point of attention, but the actual physical placement in relation to the ball and the rest of your body can play a huge factor in being a great putter. Oftentimes the eyes are an overlooked part of your set up.
Eyes should be directly over the ball. If you’re not comfortable with your eyes being directly over the ball, you can place your eyes just on the inside of the ball which is the side of the ball closest to your feet. Either of these eye positions will allow you to see the correct line for the putt.
Some questions to ask yourself while completing this part of the set up. Am I pulling putts? Am I pushing putts? If your eyes are too far inside or towards your feet, then the tendency is to push the putt. This means you are missing putts to the right if you're right handed and to the left if you're left handed. If your eyes are too far outside or away from your feet, then the tendency is to pull the putt. This means you are missing putts to the left if you’re right handed and to the right if you’re left handed. If your eyes aren't in line with the target line then your eyes will trick your brain to think the line isn't correct so you will reroute the path of the club in order to control the ball better. This will make your swing plane wrong and make you inconsistent, So save putting strokes by getting your eyes over the ball.
Now, let’s address the proper body position. If you’ve ever watched a PGA tour event, you will see a variety of stances with different foot positions and postures. Generally speaking, you should bend slightly from the hips and allow the arms to hang directly under your shoulders. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart and your knees should be just slightly bent. Your body position should be centered around getting your eyes over the ball, which we just discussed in the last section.
All parts of your body should be aligned with each other. Try to envision you are standing on a train track. Your feet should be parallel with one another. Your hips should be parallel with your feet. Then your shoulders should be parallel with your hips. Any type of misalignment here can cause you to push or pull a putt.
There are many ways to grip the putter. I will be detailing different grips for a right handed putter. If you are left handed, do the opposite of each description.
Hold the grip of your putter softly in the palm of your hands. Your right hand is below your left hand. Your palms face each other with the palm of your right hand facing the target of your putt. The putter grip will sit in both palms. Check out the picture below for a demonstration!
This is a variation of the traditional grip where everything is the same as above except the left hand’s pointer finger is pointing down to the ground. Golfers have success using this grip when their wrists are breaking down at impact. Having the pointer finger of the left hand will help lock the wrists and keep the hands working together. Check out the picture below for a demonstration!
Traditional with hands closer to each other. This is a variation of the traditional grip where your left hand is the same as in the traditional grip, but your right hand is higher up on the grip, just slightly below your left hand. Your palms will be facing each other. Students have success using this grip when the right hand is taking over the stroke. This grip also allows both hands to work together. Check out the picture below for a demonstration!
This putting grip is left hand low for right handed players. Holding the grip of the putter softly in the palms of your hands but reversing the order of your hands. In the switch grip, your left hand is below your right hand. Just as with the traditional grip, your palms still face each other and the palm of your right hand still faces the target of your putt. This is often used as a training method to learn how to lead with your left arm, which is important for players that feel like they have to hit the ball with their right hand. If you notice that the ball is bouncing right after you putt, then you are likely adding loft at impact. A switch grip should help you decrease the loft of your putter and get your ball rolling better on the green. Check out the picture below for a demonstration!
The claw grip essentially involves holding the putter in a “claw” like manner with your right hand and holding it normally with your left hand. Since you want your wrists to stay in a straight line, the claw grip is great for players that “flip” at the ball with their wrists. The claw grip also allows players to use the shoulder socket to push the nondominant arm and putter down the target line. Sometimes using the shoulder socket is a more natural muscle group to use for players. Check out the picture below for a demonstration!
I recommend starting off with the traditional grip and sticking with that for a while until your patterns of problems become clear. Once you’ve collected data on where or why you are missing, you can experiment with other grips until you find one you feel comfortable with.
Lastly, let’s talk about the proper ball position when setting up a putt. Ball position is where you place the ball in relation to your feet. It typically depends on whether you are right or left eye dominant. Like you see in the first picture below, if you are right eye dominant, you should play the ball more in the middle of your stance (think in line with your belly button). As pictured in the second picture below, if you are left eye dominant, the ball should be more towards the target side (left foot) for a right handed player. This difference isn’t huge, just a couple inches which makes sense, your eyes aren’t that far apart!
If you're left handed, the reverse is true. If you’re left eye dominant, it should be in the middle of your stance and if you’re right eye dominant, it should be more towards the target side (right foot).
I realize that this seems like a lot to think about. The beautiful thing about getting into the proper putting position is that you will see a lot of overlap with the proper set up on a full swing as well. These things will seem strange or awkward at first but the more you do them, the more they will become second nature. The set up truly is the foundation to rolling good putts, so take the time to get comfortable in your stance. At the end of the day, golf is all about feeling comfortable, having a good time, and making some putts!