Match stroke type to posture
By Kim Jeong-kyoo
The secret to successful putting is matching your stroke type to your posture. How you stand in relation to the ball dictates how you stroke it. As the shoulders work perpendicularly to the spine, an upright putting posture forces the shoulders to move around more rather than up and down, which in turn, opens the putter face during the backswing, then squares it up when approaching the ball.
Therefore, it’s natural that you let the putter face open up going back and square up at impact, allowing it to close after impact if you set up in an upright posture. You need to avoid trying to keep the putter face pointed at the target during the entire stroke.
Also important here is to know that the putter face opens during the backstroke not by conscious manipulation of the hands and arms but by natural moving of the putter that works slightly to the inside of the intended target line. The putter face returns to its original square position on the forward stroke as it retraces the inside path back to the ball.
Similarly, golfers who set up in a more bent posture at address need to keep the putter face remaining square to the intended line from beginning to end.
With the spine tilted and the chest pointed toward the ground, the shoulders work at right angles to the spine, moving more up and down than around. On the backstroke, the left shoulder moves down while the right one rocks up. This shoulder motion is reversed during the forward stroke.
In a nutshell, golfers standing upright over the ball should open the putter face going back, square it at impact and close after hitting the ball. Golfers with a bent posture need to allow the putter to follow the up-and-down action of the shoulders and remain square to the intended putting line.
It’s imperative that the body remain very still while putting. Any superfluous movement makes solid contact rare. Imagine a coin under the ball at address and identify its denomination after your stroke. That keeps your eyes focused on the ball longer, ridding you of your tendency to move the body through the ball.
Of equal importance for successful results is to set your shoulders parallel to the ball-target line at address. For a square setup you need to understand that every golfer is built differently and you are no exception. You have shoulders that are either open or closed. It’s rare to have square shoulders. A good rule of thumb is that right-handers have open shoulders and left-handers have closed shoulders.
To check if your shoulders are open, closed or square, stand in a doorway with your toes parallel to the door. Look both left and right without moving your shoulders.
If your left shoulder is farther from the door than your right one, it means you have open shoulders.
Similarly, take your putting stance and let your hands hang naturally from the shoulders. Now, move your hands toward each other. If the right hand is outside the left, it means you have open shoulders.
The best way to square open shoulders in your setup is to use a cross-handed putting grip.
With the left hand below the right on the handle of the putter, you can square your shoulders to the ball target line without any conscious effort, which encourages a straighter putting stroke.
Another way to square your shoulder alignment at address is to move the ball back in your stance toward the right foot and away from the hole.
Moving the ball back in your stance may make you feel awkward and as if you would push the ball to the right. However, you don’t have to worry. That is a natural feeling.