The four basic elements of putting to master before you actually start swinging the club are: grip, ball position, alignment and posture. In my previous article I spoke about grip, now we will discuss the ball position.
Although I discuss these basics elements in separate blog posts, they are interdependent and, more importantly, they have a profound influence on each other. For example, a good grip will most probably promote a correct and natural posture. That in turn will affect your alignment and ball position. The ball position in putting will primarily influence: 1. Speed at which the ball will leave the clubface after impact. The professionals talk about “smash factor.” Without getting too complicated, smash factor is the efficiency in which the energy is transferred from clubface to ball. The more efficient the transfer, the less effort we exercise. To achieve this, we want to limit the influence of outside agencies affecting the speed of the ball such as gravitational indentations.
2. Roll of the ball. We all strive for the ball to roll end over end. In other words, the ball should travel on its merry way without the influence of spin. “The ball should leave the clubface in balance,” no backspin, no sidespin and no forward-spin. Tour players refer to this as the ball “hugging” the green. When you watch good putters roll the ball, the ball looks heavy. It’s a slow train coming, and nothing on the green could make it veer off course. That is an awesome feeling! Now the question remains, how do we do that? Important to note is that when at rest, the ball creates an indentation on the green due to gravity. In simple terms, the ball lies in a hole. And while this hole might not be a major factor, it could affect both the speed and roll of the ball. Our research shows that the loft of the putter combined with a slight ascending blow, will “lift” the ball out of this indentation without any side effects. There is another reason why we should hit slightly up on the ball.
Let’s talk physics! Remember what we learned at school: “For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction.” It still holds true today. For instance, if you want to hit the ball over a tree with your wedge, make sure to hit down on the ball. The same thing is true with your chipping. Strike the ball with a descending blow to eliminate those shots that skull over the green and end up in the water. Hit down to get the ball up!
In putting, it is exactly the opposite. We don’t want the ball to go up. In fact, we want the ball to stay down, hug the green and roll end over end. Therefore, just hit slightly up on the ball. How do we achieve this? By placing the ball left of your nose for right handed golfers. The nose is normally the bottom of the putting arc for most people. Therefore, placing the ball just left of that will ensure an ascending blow; hence getting the law of physics on your side.
Here's a great drill to make sure your ball is in the perfect place:
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