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Dave Pelz: Your best way to putt

Is there a best way to putt? Yes. I have proof that there is a best way for the majority of people, and a best way for you. But they are not necessarily the same, and in both cases, the "bests" may surprise you. What's sure to surprise you is the worst way to putt. Because, chances are, it's how you're putting now.

For the past few years, the Pelz Golf Institute has been studying putting styles, trying to determine which is the most effective. We've collected data from thousands of students who've gone through our Scoring Game Schools, and we annually test hundreds of participants at the Du- Pont Coolmax World Amateur Tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (now the Golf.com World Amateur Handicap Championship). The subjects, from beginners to Tour pros, use one of five putting styles -- conventional (right hand low), left hand low, claw grip, long putter, and body putter.

And the winner is: body putting. The results on the following pages show body putting had the best make percentage (averaged over straight and breaking putts) and also finished a close second in lag putting (more than 30 feet). Lead hand low finished second overall. The methods are presented in order of success below.

The worst way to putt? Conventional, as practiced by the majority of golfers. Does this mean you should make a change? Maybe. It definitely means you should conduct your own test (found at the bottom of the article). Learn which method works best over various distances. You might find that different methods work better at different distances. If your results are significantly different, consider carrying two putters and using two methods. I'm serious: You don't drive with the same club on every hole, so why should you stroke short and long putts with the same putter?

Body putting wasn't the best choice for everyone, so it might not be yours, either. But you won't know until you take the test and give each method a try. Scroll to see each one explained fully.

Body Putter
Position the ball two inches forward of the center of your stance, with your feet shoulder- width apart and square to the putt line. Take your normal putting crouch and find the most comfortable length when the butt of the putter is lightly tucked against your belly, chest or neck. Place both hands together (right or left hand low) toward the bottom of the grip, and stroke putts normally.

ADVANTAGES
1. Changes the idea of the putting stroke from a "hit" to a "swing."
2. Pure pendulum motion eliminates wrist break and, for most golfers, minimizes forearm rotation.
3. Most golfers feel a stable stroke.
4. Allows good control of distance and speed.

DISADVANTAGES
1. Repeatable ball position is critical, because the putterface will rotate slightly through impact.
2. There's no tolerance for any body motion or rotation.
3. Eyes may not be directly over the target line, making good aim difficult.

Body Putter
Leonard Kamsler
Body Putter

 

Lead Hand Low
Take your conventional stance, ball position and putter length. Grip with leading (closer to the hole) hand below the trailing hand on the handle. This puts the trailing hand in a passive position, and allows the lead arm to pull the putter through impact on line and square.

ADVANTAGES
1. Eliminates forearm rotation for most golfers.
2. Minimizes wrist breakdown.
3. Encourages shoulders to be square to the line at address and promotes a square putterface through impact.

DISADVANTAGES
1. Takes time to regain touch on long and breaking putts.
2. Stigma of "cross-handed" putting discourages many golfers.

Lead Hand Low
Leonard Kamsler
Lead Hand Low

 

Long Putter
Use lead hand to anchor the butt of the putter to your chest or chin (holding the putterhead up, off the green); the trailing hand supplies a swinging motion from low on the shaft. Stand close to the ball so the putter hangs almost vertically. Always check that the ball position is two inches forward of center, and practice lag putts often.

ADVANTAGES
1. Changes the idea of the putting stroke from a "hit" to a "swing."
2. Pure pendulum motion eliminates wrist break.
3. Especially consistent on short putts if the lower hand just swings the club (no manipulation of the putterface).
4. Excellent direction control when swing is almost vertical.

DISADVANTAGES
1. Distance control is difficult on long putts.
2. Putter is unstable in windy conditions.
3. Ball position is critical, because face rotates through impact.
4. Aim becomes a problem as eyes move farther from the putt line.

Long Putter
Leonard Kamsler
Long Putter

 

Claw Grip
Reconfigure and reposition the hands as shown so they simply move with the stroke, adding nothing. There must be no wrist hinge and no hand or finger power in this stroke. This method prevents the power (trailing) hand from controlling putterface orientation as well as from supplying excessive force.

ADVANTAGES
1. Changes the idea of putting from a hands-controlled motion to a swing-down-the-line motion.
2. Puts the power hand into a passive position.
3. Provides a new look, new attitude, and change to golfers unhappy with conventional putting.
DISADVANTAGES

1. Many golfers find it uncomfortable and awkward.
2. Distance control usually suffers initially, especially on long putts.
3. Other golfers consider it an act of desperation.

Claw Grip
Leonard Kamsler
Claw Grip

 

Conventional
The traditional way we were all taught to putt. The trailing hand grips below the lead hand on the handle, just as it does for all other shots with other clubs. With all the use it gets, conventional putting has a big advantage over the other styles, and perhaps should have won all the tests -- but it didn't.

ADVANTAGES
1. It's comfortable, traditional and accepted.
2. Best for touch on lag putts due to player's experience and familiarity with it, and the power available from a wrist hinge.
3. Good for putts from off the green because it resembles conventional chipping technique.
4. Good touch on breaking putts.

DISADVANTAGES
1. Control and manipulation of the putterface cause inconsistency in putt direction.
2. Poor distance control when wrists become overactive.
3. Encourages an open stance and swinging across the target line.

Conventional Grip
Leonard Kamsler
Conventional Grip





 

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