Starting on the right path for a successful putt will involve tuning various aspects of your literal path, along with calibrating other variables like alignment, ball position, club position, speed, and angles.
If we break the putting process into 4 sections, going in order from the initial address set up, to body alignment, to stroke process, to the point of impact, we can start to understand the most important components of the putt as a whole.
Although the term "address" can be used to describe a larger portion of the setup process, to break the fundamentals up into digestible chunks, we'll refer to this portion when speaking about the ball, tee, equipment, and body in relation to the ball.
Where you place yourself in relation to the ball is crucial for your aim. Where you place the club face is even more important.
Use this first stage to find a comfortable distance to stand behind the ball, while setting up things like the Pro Path Putting Mirror to help with measurements and guiding gates.
Use the guides to do a couple of test runs to make sure your positioning around the ball and impact angles are in the sweet spot for you as an individual. Finding what works for you is going to get you on the right path.
Once you have the ball positioned on the tee (right in front of your center), training equipment in place, and a good spot to stand, start to moderate your posture.
While everyone is different and you'll likely have to tweak certain positions, we'll guide you through setting up neutrally since that has the best chance of getting you 'on the right path'.
Being squared up means having toes, knees, shoulders and eyes directly facing the ball straight on, perpendicular to the stroke path. Standing with feet approximately shoulder-width apart, with toes facing forward, will likely be comfy for most. Since everything in your body is linked together, this foot positioning will lead to forward knees, hips, and chest.
A very slight bend of the knees will help the hips loosen up where you can bend over with shoulders leading over knees slightly. Using the Pro Path Putting Mirror will help you align your shoulder properly with your step. Your eyes will also then be visible on the mirror to properly position evenly over the ball.
Gripping the club in a balanced way, with both hands and forearms symmetrical, is very important since it controls the stroke path and, ultimately the angle the club face will hit the ball. Giving elbows a slight bend will help with the natural curving momentum built during the stroke.
Ultimately you'll want a form that will be comfortable enough to repeat consistently for the best success and any aspects that get a chance can easily be compensated for to achieve the same predictable/controlled results.
The stroke is a complex system, composed of aspects that affect two things: direction control and distance control. The stroke - also known as the swing - is everything between the moment the club starts moving backwards to the moment it touches the ball. It has a backwards portion and a forwards motion.
Since most golfers have much more measurable error in falling short or going too far past the hole, rather than having their left-right aim off, it's obvious we could all use a little more distance control practice. It's generally affected by 3 main aspects;
The speed refers to how quickly you move your arms (and club) backwards and forwards. The speed gathered will affect the force of impact, based on the laws of energy transference and velocity. The speed is essentially caused/created by the stroke length and tempo.
Tempo refers to the evenness of the backwards are forwards motion in relation to the center of the 'pendulum' swing (the highest point of the backswing is the center). If a metronome was ticking, the club should click back the same amount it clocks forward until it hits the ball - regardless of how quickly the metronome is clicking. This regulation causes even momentum to build fluidly without tension.
The stroke length refers to how far back the club will physically reach before returning on a forward path. It can be measured in distance from the ball. The longer back the wind up, the more time/distance the club has to build up that momentum and speed before impact.
Direction control refers to a lot of angles within your set up. Both your body angles (as mentioned above) and the angles of the club.
Alignment refers to your body's set up in relation to the ball and stroke path, as well as the way the club is held. Posture will greatly affect the swing path and impact angles, so make sure everything is fairly balanced!
The stroke path refers to the path which naturally slightly curves, the club travels in the back and forward swings. It travels slightly behind the right foot, before returning square with the ball. The important thing is to ensure that its return is square and not mirroring the curve too far to the other side (pushing towards the side of your left foot). This will cause an out-to-in path that will go too far left of the hole. The shoulders cause a small natural curve but keeping that under control will make it easier to hit the ball straight on.
The way your chest and body face will directly impact the outcome of this curve. If the shoulders face to the right in an outer stance, it may travel too far right of the hole (or it could properly compensate for a stroke arc that's a bit too hard to neutralize). Chest to the left will likely cause the ball to veer much too far left.
The club angle is the "rotate, tilt, and pan" aspects of where it sits in relation to the ball and the ground. The club face should hit the ball in its center lengthwise. It shouldn't tilt its "toes" or "bum" too much to the ground, but instead lay parallel with it. It should also face the hole dead-on. Everything should be neutral for a basic (non-breaking) putt.
The point of impact is the actual point that the club and ball collide, where all these cumulative aspects merge. The speed is transferred into force in order to drive the ball far enough, while the angles translate to the continued path.
Each element builds on the previous, so getting set-up for success comes down to building good habits on a fundamental level so you're always on the right path towards the hole!
Training tools like the Pro Path Putting Mirror are so useful in regulating proper technique. Check it out here!
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