Quietly, right under our noses, putting scientist and instructor
Marius Filmalter has studied, analyzed and picked
apart more than 50,000 putting strokes, and he did it
using state-of-the-art and industry-standard technology
that he helped invent. What he has found over the past
two decades challenges many long and tightly held beliefs
about how to best roll that little white ball into that little
hole. The data is convincing enough to have successfully
lured more than 40 PGA Tour converts to his camp, and
it’s allowed him to begin laying the foundation for a nationwide
network of schools. Here’s how you can apply
his discoveries to your own motion and improve your
putting in every conceivable way.
The Tour’s new putting guru has easy fixes
for your most damaging putting flaws.
Five New Rules for Your Stroke
1. Stroke Speed
The Old Way: Accelerate into the ball for the best possible strike.
The Marius Way: Never accelerate into the ball — maintain
According to Filmalter, your putting stroke is a pendulum,
which reaches top speed at the bottom of its arc and then
slows down. If you accelerate into the ball when you putt
that means you’re reaching top speed after the bottom of
your arc (i.e., past the ball). “This is a bad thing,” says Filmalter.
“Your brain is wired to instinctively square the putterface at
the moment it reaches top speed. If you’re not at top speed at
impact — if you’re still accelerating — then you have to make a
last-ditch effort to square the putterface. Enter the yip.”
Filmalter’s research shows that the best putters certainly
accelerate, but that they do it earlier in their forward-strokes,
they do it gradually (they don’t “floor the gas pedal”) and then
they maintain constant speed. “At impact you shouldn’t be
accelerating or decelerating — just ‘celerating.’
“If I asked you to hit 60 mph in your car at exactly one mile,
you wouldn’t gradually increase your speed and try to time
it perfectly so that you reached 60 mph right at the marker.
Instead, you’d ease on the pedal until you got to 60, then
maintain that speed. This is how your stroke should work.”
The Old Way: Align your body square to your line.
The Marius Way: Set your body how you want. It’s
far more important to align your forearms to your line.
“If you look at the best putters on any Tour
you’ll notice that some of them set their feet
parallel to the line, while others are open
and some are closed,” Filmalter says. The
lesson? How you set your feet and lower body has
almost zero to do with your ability to start your
putts on line. “There are two reasons for this,” he
adds. “One is that your lower body doesn’t move
when you hit a putt, so it can’t influence direction.
The other is that the motors of your stroke — your
shoulders, arms and torso — do influence direction.
If you set your forearms in line with one another
and parallel to your target line, then you’re in a
very good alignment to hit the ball where you
want it to go.”
3. Stroke Path
The Old Way: Move your putter straight back and
through the ball or along a perfect arc.
The Marius Way: Take your putter back on an
arc, return it to the ball on the same path, but then
putt down your target line.
The two most commonly taught stroke types
have merit, but according to Filmalter, they
fall short of perfection. “It’s impossible to
take the putterhead straight back without
lifting it off the ground or letting your right elbow
fly,” he explains. “Test it by putting against a wall
and watch how the putterhead must rise in order
for you to keep the toe in contact with the baseboard
as you move it straight back.” Lifting the
putter in your backstroke is bad because it results
in a downward angle of attack — the exact opposite
of what you need to create proper roll after impact.
“So yes,” Filmalter advises, “your backstroke — and
subsequent path back to the ball — must arc.”
What about impact? “While it’s true that your
putter will eventually arc back to the inside at
some point in your through-stroke,” Filmalter explains,
“it’s critical that you work straight down
the line for at least the first 4 inches past the ball.
This straight-line impact — paired with an inside
delivery — ensures that you won’t cut across the
ball and promotes a full release of the putterhead.”
The Old Way: Keep your left wrist as flat as
possible when you strike the ball.
The Marius Way: Let it flex so you can properly
release the putterhead and add loft at impact.
“My research shows that the best putters allow
their left wrist to unhinge through the ball,
or better yet, respond to the weight of the
putterhead,” says Marius. “What they don’t
do is keep their left wrist flat like is so often taught.
Anytime you hold something rigid in your stroke
you add tension and reduce feel. That’s the last
thing a Tour player needs on today’s slick greens.”
Filmalter doesn’t recommend flipping the putterhead
past your hands, but sees a benefit in a
slight, vertical release. “All good putters add loft
at impact, and letting the putterhead
creep ahead of the shaft through the ball is a good
way to do it.”
5. Putter Choice
The Old Way: Opt for a face-balanced model
if you’re over-rotating the putterhead.
The Marius Way: Use any putter you want. If
you’re over-rotating, it’s your fault, not your putter’s.
According to Filmalter, if your putter is
rotating out of control, switching to one
designed to twist less — like most people
believe face-balanced mallets are designed
to do — won’t help. He explains, “Putter designs
differ in the ease in which they’re able to rotate
in relation to your path, not around themselves. A
putter can’t rotate around it’s own axis unless you
cause it to by turning your wrists. Unduly opening
or closing the putterface is all on you — placing
something different in your hands won’t help.