Connect with us

Instruction

How to improve your putting arc

Published

on

Golf is played on an inclined plane, which is established when we bend forward to address the ball. This angled plane dictates the club swing on an arc.

An arcing motion is present in all golf strokes whether you are swinging an iron, a driver or putter. On short putts the arc is smaller, so it may “FEEL” straight back and straight through, but there should still be a slight inward movement of the putter head during the back and forward swings.

DTL 600 Inclined 2

A common mistake that I see is the putter head moving outside the target line on the backstroke, accompanied by a blocking action and no release of the putter face on the through stroke. Most golfers then employ some type of breakdown in the lead wrist in an attempt to square the face, which results in inconsistent loft and off-center strikes at impact. An arcing stroke would see the putter head moving slightly inside the target line on the back stroke, then naturally swinging inside once again on the through stroke — simply a pendulum motion, executed on an inclined plane.

CD POV 2 600

Complementary Angles

To improve your putting arc, let’s begin with a solid address position. I call this type of setup “Complementary Angles” as it encourages the putter to swing in a way that requires very few compensations.

The address position is so crucial because we want to establish clear and accurate relationships between our target line, putter, and body. Complementary Angles means we will be stacking one good position on top of the next. An easy way to practice improving your angles both indoors and out is to draw a few lines on the reflective side of a CD or DVD disc. The first line will traverse the center of the disc and represent our intended starting line. Draw a second line perpendicular to the first line and directly behind the ball. This line will ensure that our putter face is square to our intended starting line. Last, draw a third line parallel to the first line just inside where the ball will be.

When setup properly, you should see your eyes on top of this line in the reflection provided by the disc. Setting up with your eyes slightly inside the target line provides more freedom for your hands and arms to swing while encouraging the forearms to rotate slightly during the stroke, thus transporting the putter on the desired path.

Grip in the fingers, heel pad on top

Next, we want to adopt a grip position that encourages the forearms to track properly during the stroke. Contrary to the “Lifeline” grip that’s commonly taught, we will incorporate a hold with the heel pad of our lead hand on top. As in your full swing, utilizing the heel pad provides leverage and control while removing tension from your thumb which radiates up the forearm.

Finger Grip In Four Steps

PPG 600

  1. With your lead arm hanging naturally, curl your last three fingers around the grip and rest your heel pad on top.
  2. Remove the thumb and index finger.
  3. Rotate your trail forearm slightly clockwise and slide the four fingers onto the grip. Connect the heel pad of the trail hand to the lead hand’s middle and ring fingernails for stability.
  4. Allow the thumbs to rest on the grip with no tension.

Grip

Notice that there is now an air pocket under your lead thumb pad and the putter head feels light. An excellent training aid that I use to quickly identify a proper fingers grip is Master Putting Instructor Pat O’Brien’s “Perfect Putting Grip.” The PPG is a decal that adheres to your existing putter grip, featuring heel pad and finger placement markings.

DTL Arc 2 600

Backward, Upward and Inward

Now that we have completed a setup and grip comprised of “Complementary Angles,” the forearms can naturally rotate back and through. To rid yourself of any old tendencies such as bringing the putter back “outside,” place an object (alignment stick, tees, sleeve of balls) just outside the toe of your putter to verify that the club is working slightly away from the object as you swing back.

Your Reaction?
  • 12
  • LEGIT2
  • WOW0
  • LOL1
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK2

Michael Howes is a G.S.E.B. authorized instructor of "The Golfing Machine" - Director of Instruction "Carter Plantation Golf Course" Springfield, La. - Director of Instruction "Rob Noel Golf Academy at Carter Plantation. - Golf Channel Academy Instructor - SPi Instructor of the SeeMore Putter Institute - Featured Writer GolfWRX Teaching philosophy: "We will work together on adding the all-important elements of power and consistency to your game while maintaining the individualism and art of your swing." Work on your swing from anywhere in the world - NO software needed. www.howesgolf.com www.youtube.com/cedarstreetgolf

30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Mark s

    Mar 15, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    When I try this grip it feels like I need a shorter putter with a flatter lie angle. Does that seem right?

  2. Pingback: ben crenshaw putting grip | World's Hourly News

  3. Pingback: Ben Crenshaw Putting Grip | Cotton Candy

  4. Pingback: Ben Crenshaw Putting Grip | Pen Pal

  5. Pingback: Ben Crenshaw Putting Grip | admirals blog

  6. Pingback: Ben Crenshaw Putting Grip | Just A News

  7. Pingback: Ben Crenshaw Putting Grip | just for fun

  8. manz60

    Jan 1, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Thanks for your article. I’ve read the Dave Pelz Putting’Bible’ and he refers to a PILS Stroke (Perfect In Line Stroke). He used a grid and special photography to show strokes that appear to go slightly inside square to inside (like a screen door), but actually go straight back and thru. He refered to this as an optical illusion. You need to see the stroke from the target line or from above the ball. Otherwise if you view the stroke from head on (like on TV), the stroke will be seen as a ‘screen door’ but its not.

    The arms hang straight down from the shoulders to create a vertical penduleum and despite the lie angle of the putter, the putter head moves straight back and thru.

    ref: p81 Pelz Putting Bible

    M60

    • Michael Howes

      Jan 1, 2015 at 10:55 pm

      Hello M60 – I have also read Mr. Pelz ‘Putting Bible, as well as ‘Putt Like The Pros’ and am familiar with his PILS method. Here are a few points I believe worth noting in the above excerpt. Having access to current technology like SAM Putt Lab, I will say that the putter does swing on an arc. This is due to the angle of the club shaft and fact that we are bent over at the waist to address a ball on the ground, which we are standing to the side of. The degree of arc is greatly affected by our amount of forward bend, eye placement, forearm position, and other address conditions. Also if I remember correctly, the PERCY model used to demonstrate the PILS stroke had NO wrist or elbow joints.
      My experience has been that golfers who are trying to truly execute a SBST stroke must make many compensations in an attempt to keep the putter from doing what it naturally wants to do, which is swing on an arc. These compensations usually show up as the putter head moving outside on the way back with a closed face, followed by a blocking type through stroke. I also see these players set up with their eyes positioned outside of the ball and require very upright lie angles when trying to get the right forearm and shaft on plane at address.
      That being said, I am advocating allowing the putter to swing on a slight arc. The set up and grip that I outlined complement this arc and might even “Feel” SBST, depending on the player and their tendencies. Test it out and thanks for reading.

      • Michael Howes

        Jan 1, 2015 at 11:05 pm

        typo: PERFY

      • bradford

        Jan 5, 2015 at 7:59 am

        In fact, the only way to actually bring the club straight back and straight through without breaking the wrists is to adopt the Michelle Wie stance (or possibly Nicklaus), whereby the club is actually hanging straight down.

  9. David Partridge

    Dec 31, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Nice article. I like how you noted the importance of the grip. I believe that’s where the majority of amatuers get it wrong. Probably worthy of a mention is that with the correct grip the forearms can become an extension of the putter shaft allowing the correct plane for the putter to travel

    • Michael Howes

      Jan 1, 2015 at 11:06 am

      Right on David. Complementary Angles at address lead to simple strokes. Thx for posting.

  10. Edward McMahon

    Dec 31, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Michael,
    Really enjoy the instruction since putting is the biggest mystery in my golf game. I have a tendency to push short putts and pull long putts. I’ve tried multiple different grips and occasionally succeed for a short time. How much pressure is applied by each hand? And does either hand assume a more dominant role?
    Ed

    • Michael Howes

      Dec 31, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      Edward & Steve, here is my recommendation on grip pressure. We want as little tension in the forearms as possible. When holding the putter horizontal to the ground I should not be able to pull the club from your grip, but we still want your hands and forearms relaxed. This is why I advocate the putter be gripped in the fingers with the heel pad on top, as opposed to a lifeline grip which is commonly taught. Gripping in the fingers allows for touch and control by relieving the forearm pressure created when the putter’s only support is the thumb pads. Tiger Woods wrote in his 2001 book, How I Play Golf, “The handle of the putter runs under the butt of my left hand. Most players like the handle running straight up the palm so the club shaft is parallel to the left forearm. My grip is unique this way, but I believe gives me a little extra feel and gives me freedom in my wrists when I need it.” Tiger goes on to write of his conversation with Ben Crenshaw on grip pressure and Ben’s advice to grip light enough so that he be able to “feel the weight of the putterhead at the other end of the shaft”. When pressed for a number between 1 and 10, I have heard Crenshaw say 4. Hand placement has a huge effect on grip pressure and deserves experimentation at the very least.
      Try this drill: Tie some type of weight (I use brass washers) to the end of a piece of nylon string. Grip the putter with the string lying in your fingers and running on the underside of the putting grip. Begin making strokes, keeping the putter and the weight swinging in unison. Increase grip pressure until the weight and putter no longer keep pace. Relax your pressure until you are able to regain a swinging motion. This is your “Feel”.

  11. Steve

    Dec 31, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    One question I have is that No one ever seems to talk about the Grip, by that I mean “How tight” should you hold the Putter.

    With a wedge its ” Soft hands” as if you were holding an ‘open Tube of Tooth paste’ which I can understand and feel the difference if I were to hold it ( The wedge ) too tight.

    But what about the Putter ??

    Steve ( UK )

    • Michael Howes

      Dec 31, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      Good question Steve! Please see my above response to you and Edward in reagrds to grip pressure.

  12. Mchapp2

    Dec 29, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    Michael, great article!
    Look forward to trying it soon. Sounds like it can greatly help me. Also got excited when I was reading the article and recognized the clubhouse in the background. Played there once and loved it! Always great to know there are other WRXers around Louisiana.

    • Michael Howes

      Dec 29, 2014 at 10:23 pm

      pleasure to hear from an La golf enthusiast. Keep me posted on your putting progress and have a great New Years!

  13. Eagle006

    Dec 28, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Nice article. A follow up article on the mechanics of the stroke would be very helpful too.

  14. Pingback: How to Improve Your Putting Arc | Golf Gear Select

  15. Golfraven

    Dec 27, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    ok, so how about the left hand low grip? I like the idea with the grip though

    • Michael Howes

      Dec 27, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      Did you switch to left hand low, due to right hand “hit”? Try out the grip procedure outlined in article and you should find a much more passive right hand.

      • Golfraven

        Dec 28, 2014 at 3:59 pm

        Hi, I stragled with the conventional grip recent years so thought I try something new. Actually I like the feel of the left hand low and I seem to be more consistent. Still tinkering with my hand positions slighly so will try some of your instructions. cheers

  16. Gloover

    Dec 27, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Good article. Thanks!

    If one putts face-on, the stroke becomes nearly straight back and through. No need for the arc.

  17. jl

    Dec 26, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    “Connect the heel pad of the trail hand to the lead hand’s middle and ring fingernails for stability.” But in the picture isn’t the heel pad of the trail hand resting more on the lead hand’s thumb?

    • Michael Howes

      Dec 27, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      JL – in the completed grip picture, the right hand’s heel pad is on the fingernails of left hand. The only part touching the lead hand, is the trail hand’s thumb and thumb pad. Hope that helps.

  18. Ponjo

    Dec 26, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Hi Michael,

    Love this article regarding the putting arc as this has recently been introduced to me by my golf coach following a lesson after having a turbulent year on the greens.

    I was taking the club away slightly on the outside “thinking I was taking it back in a straight line” you can guess the rest 🙂

    Many many hours later the movement is better and am utilising an MSIII aid to drill the natural movement even more.

    Thanks

    • Michael Howes

      Dec 27, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      Great to hear Ponjo. You’re on the right track – set the right forearm up correctly at address & that outside takeaway will be a thing of the past! Keep on it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Instruction

A shockingly simple drill to hit the golf ball farther

Published

on

One of the biggest requests I get on the lesson tee is for more distance. Everyone wants to hit the golf ball farther. Obviously. That being said, there’s many things that go into producing distance, such as…

  • Swing Length — how long is the swing or how long does the club stay in the air before hitting the ball?
  • Swing Width — are you at full extension at during the swing or do you get soft arms?
  • Impact Point — the horizontal and vertical point of contact that influences gear effect, launch, and spin rate.
  • Spin Rate — how much backspin does the ball have?
  • Height — how high is the ball in the air?
  • Launch Angle — what is the angle of the ball off the face during impact?
  • Ball Speed — how fast does the ball leave the blade?

But one thing remains true: if you want more distance, then you must swing faster with all of the above being maximized for your current swing speed. So how do you create more speed? Simple — set up the drill as shown below.

Use between 6-to-10 balls and swing 100 percent all out with no regard for where the ball lands. Then repeat the drill and make your normal speed swing and you will find that your clubhead speed will slightly increase. Do this drill 5 to 10 times per practice session and you will train yourself to swing faster.

However, it’s up to you to figure out how fast you can swing yet maximize the qualities listed above so you can maintain consistent contact.

Remember, you don’t have to get complex to solve your distance problem. Try this first and see what happens!

Your Reaction?
  • 95
  • LEGIT9
  • WOW12
  • LOL21
  • IDHT5
  • FLOP13
  • OB7
  • SHANK88

Continue Reading

Instruction

Your Body Is Your Most Important Piece Of Equipment; It’s Time For An Upgrade

Published

on

Clubs, balls, shoes, mental training, lessons. Golfers are always searching for the next thing that is going to transform their game. If a product has promise, golfers are like addicts; they must have it… regardless of the price. What’s usually ignored, however, is the most important piece of equipment for all golfers: their body, and how their physical conditioning pertains to golf.

Everything becomes easier by getting in better “golf shape.” You will likely hit the ball farther, have better energy and focus, fewer aches and pains, improved ability to actually implement swing changes and the durability to practice more.

When trying to improve your physical conditioning for golf, it would shortsighted not to mention the following requirements:

  1. Discipline: There will be times you don’t want to train, but should.
  2. Patience: Small, incremental progress adds up to big improvement over time.
  3. A Path: Make sure you use your time and effort efficiently by having a training plan that matches your goals.

If you can adopt these principles, I am confident you will be very happy with the return — even more so than the latest driver, putter or practice aid.

I like to compare having a well functioning body to a painter’s blank canvas. By ensuring you have adequate coordination, motor control, mobility, stability, strength and speed, you have the basic tools necessary for a high-performance golf swing. Of course, you will still need to develop a functional technique and specific skill level that matches your goals. On the flip side, if you are deficient in these areas, you are like a dirty canvas; your options are limited and you will need to make compensations to achieve anything close to the desired outcome. In simpler terms, movements that are universally desirable in the golf swing may be very difficult or impossible for you based on your current physical state.

Earlier, I mentioned the term “appropriate training,” and now I am going to discuss one of the ways to identify what this means for you as a golfer trying to use physical training to support a better golf game. The TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Movement Screen is a great start for everyone. It is a combination of 16 exercises that are used to assess your current movement capabilities, identify limitations and provide you with your “Body-Swing” connection. The “Body-Swing” connection is a term coined by TPI that illustrates the link between physical deficiencies and potential swing tendencies based on its “Big 12” model. The Big 12 swing characteristics that TPI has identified are as follows:

  1. S-Posture
  2. C-Posture
  3. Loss of Posture
  4. Flat Shoulder Plane
  5. Early Extension
  6. Over The Top
  7. Sway
  8. Slide
  9. Hanging Back
  10. Reverse Spine Angle
  11. Casting
  12. Chicken Winging

It’s important to note these as tendencies rather than flaws, as great ball strikers have demonstrated some of them. When done excessively, they make high functioning swings more difficult and may make potential injury more likely. Rather than going through all 16 screening exercises (which would be a very long read), I have selected five that I feel provide a lot of useful information. They can often broadly differentiate the playing level of golfers.

1. Static Setup Posture

There is a lot of debate in golf instruction about what is the correct way to assume posture for the golf swing. Some prefer more rounded shoulders akin to what was common in years gone by: Jack and Arnie being good examples. Others prefer a more extended thoracic spine (less curved upper back): Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott are good examples. I’m not a golf instructor and clearly both types can hit great golf shots. I am more concerned with the lumbar spine (the lower back, which doesn’t seem to get as much attention when the setup is being discussed).

Note the difference between the spinal curvatures of Jack and Rory. I’m OK with either as long as the lower back is in a biomechanically sound position (explained in video).

An overly extended or arched lower back (which I demonstrate in the video) creates too large a space between the alignment rod and my lower back. This is a common issue I see, and it can lead to a lack of pelvis rotation, a lack of power due to the inability to effectively use the glutes and abdominal muscles and lower back discomfort. Cueing a slight posterior tilt (tucking the tailbone underneath you) often makes a noticeable difference in pelvis mobility, power, and comfort.

 2. Pelvic Rotation

Pelvic rotation is essential for X-factor stretch, the ability to increase the amount of separation between the pelvis and torso during transition (moving from the backswing into the downswing). This is often referred to as starting the downswing with the lower body/hips (while the torso is still rotating away from the target or is paused at the end of the backswing). It is critical for effective sequencing and power production. Increasing the separation between your pelvis and torso on the downswing increases what is known as the “stretch-shortening cycle” of your trunk and torso muscles, which is like adding more stretch to an elastic band and then releasing it. If you cannot separate pelvic rotation and torso rotation, it will be extremely difficult to be a good golfer.

In the video below, watch how Rickie Fowler’s pelvis rotates toward the target independently of his torso. This increases the elastic energy stored in his muscles and tendons, allowing for big power production.

 3. Lower Quarter Rotation

The Lower Quarter Rotation Test shares some similarities to the Pelvic Rotation Test, but one key difference is that it doesn’t require nearly as much motor control. Many people fail the pelvic rotation test not because of a mobility limitation, but because they can’t control the different segments of the their body and perform the action they want (motor control issue). The Lower Quarter Rotation Test, on the other hand, does not require anywhere near as much control and therefore looks more directly at the internal and external rotation mobility of the lower body. People who struggle with this test are more likely to sway, slide and have reverse spine angle.

DJ Top of backswing.jpg

I’m confident Dustin Johnson would do OK on the Lower Quarter Rotation test. Look at how well he can turn into his right hip.

 4. Seated Thoracic Rotation

This one usually resonates with golfers, as “getting a full shoulder turn” is something that golf media and players like to talk to about regularly. I think most people understand the concept of a sufficient shoulder turn being important for creating power. Restricted thoracic spine rotation can stem from a few different causes. A common one is excessive thoracic flexion (rounder upper back). To test this for yourself: 1) try the test in the video hunched over and 2) with your spine as long as possible. You should notice you can rotate farther when you sit extended.

5. 90/90 External Shoulder Rotation  

Many popular golf instruction pages on social media talk about the importance of shallowing the shaft in transition and trail arm external shoulder rotation. I understand the reasoning for this in terms of swing technique, but something that needs to be taken into consideration is whether golfers actually have the ability to externally rotate their shoulders. This is often not the case. Two interesting trends I have noticed with golfers and external shoulder rotation:

  1. A larger percentage of U.S. golfers compared to Irish golfers (the two countries I have worked in) tend to have much more trail arm external rotation available. This is mainly due to throwing baseballs and footballs in their youth, which doesn’t happen in Ireland.
  2. Shoulder external rotation, shoulder flexion, and thoracic extension really seem to reduce as golfers get older compared to other movements. Please take note of this and put some exercises into your routine that promote mobility and stability in the thoracic spine and scapula, as these are the foundation for sound shoulder mechanics. Thoracic extensions on a foam roller, relaxed hanging from a pull-up bar and wall slides with external rotation are some exercises I like to use.
MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Toronto Blue Jays

I think this pitcher would have enough external shoulder rotation in his golf swing.

I hope this article gave you some more understanding of how learning about your body and then working on its limitations might be beneficial for your golf game. If you have questions about the TPI Movement Screen or are interested in an online evaluation, please feel free to e-mail me.

Your Reaction?
  • 46
  • LEGIT3
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB1
  • SHANK7

Continue Reading

Instruction

Let’s Talk Gear: Frequency and Shaft CPM

Published

on

When it comes to fine tuning a golf shaft and matching clubs within a set, frequency and CPM play a critical role in build quality and making sure what you were fit for is what gets built for you.

This video explains the purpose of a frequency machine, as well as how the information it gives us relates to both building and fitting your clubs.

Your Reaction?
  • 25
  • LEGIT3
  • WOW1
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK8

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending