Putting biomechanics is a term that relates to study and analysis of the mechanics of the golfers set up and stroke, to gain a better understanding of putting performance. In this post, we will be discussing stance posture and balance. This terminology can be a little confusing and often people think that they are the same things. Let’s define them from the start.
Stance describes the way a golfer stands in relation to the ball. Posture relates to the body and how it is positioned in relation to the ball and your stance. Balance relates to how your weight is distributed to help you remain steady in the stance and posture. Dynamic balance relates to the ability to maintain balance when in motion.
Good putting requires that you to perfect your ability to consistently adopt a stance and posture, that is conducive to good putting and maintain dynamic balance throughout your putting stroke. When people first start to play golf, they may have lessons relating to the full swing. Unfortunately putting tends to be left out of these lessons until late on, or altogether. You will see some odd putting setups if you take the time to watch other golfers playing the course.
So, let’s look at what constitutes the real foundations of good putting. For those that have not taken putting lessons, the most common ball position we see is one where the ball is played from the middle of the stance. This may not be the most efficient position for the ball to be played from.
When the ball leaves the putter face, we want to see the ball roll end over end, as soon as possible along the putting line. We also want this roll to be as smooth as possible and in contact with the putting surface, as soon as possible.
When you observe a putt in slow motion, you can clearly identify that the ball starts with the ball leaving the surface of the green momentarily, before returning to the green and its roll along the putting line. The shorter the distance the ball travels in the air and the sooner it begins its roll on the green, the less likely it will be thrown offline. To ensure we get this type of ball roll, we need to ensure that the putter face contacts the ball as it is ascending out of the bottom of its swing arc.
If you putt with the ball in the middle of your stance, there is a good possibility that you will contact the ball as the putter face is still descending in its arc. This will cause the ball to be compressed against the ground and putter face. This has 2 effects, firstly the ball will travel further in the air before returning to the green at a greater height. It will also increase ball spin. Both issues can cause the ball to hit the green surface and skip forward and be thrown offline in some way.
With the pendulum action of the putting stroke, its arc would normally be below the Centre of gravity below the sternum. As we are leaning forward at the hips, the Centre of gravity is out from the Centre of the stance towards the balls of the feet.
If we move the ball forward in our stance so that it is 2” left of the sternum target side, we can ensure that the putter face strikes the ball as it is ascending out of the bottom of its arc. This promotes an end over end roll which, will help the ball stay online.
The next thing we need to consider is creating a stable platform, with our feet between the shoulder and hip width apart. with our weight being distributed evenly through the arches.
You will see some golfers putting with their feet very close together, Ricky Fowler being a good example. This can cause the lower body to be less stable and allow side to side movement and rotation of the body. This would be harmful to your ability to make consistent contact with the sweet spot of the putter face and your ability to control distance. A wider stance helps to keep the lower body quite during the stroke and more stable in windier conditions.
The art of good putting is ensuring that your ball starts its journey towards the hole, on the line that you have chosen. The majority, (almost all) golfers putt standing side onto the ball. It is vitally important that you set up your stance parallel to the target line. The target line is not the line between the ball and the hole, it’s the line that the ball needs to travel on, taking the break into consideration.
Therefore, we must ensure that our feet, knees, hips, and shoulders are parallel left of this target line. A very simple way of checking that is to hold your putter over the ball so that the shaft dissects the ball in the middle. then check visually that your feet, knees, hips, shoulders, and forearms are all parallel to the target line. Making sure that these flow lines are parallel is crucial, most important is the flow lines of the shoulders and forearms. There is very little chance of keeping the putter square through impact if the shoulders and forearms are not square and parallel to the target line.
Now that we have adopted our stance around the ball, we need to get our eyes over the target line with the left eye over the ball. We do this by flexing at the hip and slightly bending the knees. Rounding of the shoulders also assists in providing stable conditions for the Putting Stroke.
The use of a putting mirror and tour sticks for alignment is helpful when working on your stance posture and balance. They provide instant feedback on your ball position and stance. Of all the aids on the market, I would advise you to get the tour sticks, as they really help with many issues not just putting.
In summary, the key points to remember are:
• The ball should be positioned 2” left of the sternum target side.
• The feet should be between the shoulder and hip width apart. Your weight distributed evenly over both feet.
• Feet, knees, hips, shoulders, and forearms should all be parallel left of the target line.
• Hinge at the waist and slightly flex at the knees to get the eyes over the target line.
The best place to practice getting into good posture, stance and balance are indoors on a practice matt with a putting mirror. Using the indoor mat and mirror will provide you with instant feedback to help you make sure you are getting things right.
You will be surprised how much you can improve your set up with just 5-10 minutes per day. I like to position my training matt in the dining room on the way to the kitchen. Every time I pass it, on the way to the fridge I have a little practice, works a treat.
PRACTICE THE METHOD
Next time you are on the practice green have a look at the other people who are working on the green at the same time. How many of them are working on their green reading skills do you think? From my experience, hardly any will be. They might be working on around the clock or ladder drill or might be working on their distance control but how many read each putt properly?
When you are practicing before your round, it’s not the time to be tinkering with your technique? Spend time going through your routine. Read each putt as if it was out on the course. Make sure that you are reading the putting line properly and visualising the speed that the ball needs to travel to go in.
Finally, make a stroke at the putt and watch the track and speed of the ball intently, adjust speed according to that day’s green speed and ensure that your practice putts are going at the optimum speed, to either go in or no more than 18” past the hole.
I know that my programme would be helpful to anyone who wants to improve their game. The question you need to ask yourself is, can you trust me to help you? Visit www.green2teegolf.com and find out what we have to offer?