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Putting Stroke - Arc or Straight?

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
Hello, I am a beginner golfer and I am trying my best to work on my putting. I searched the forums already and found a few interesting threads but nothing that covers this query.

Anyway, I seem to be having trouble with my putting stroke. When I first started I had a very large arc which I was told was bad and caused me to push the ball. To correct it I tried to line up and do the whole straight line only putt but that doesn't feel right. My question is how do you decide which stroke to use and which is better? I know I can become accustomed to either since I am still a beginner but I'm not sure at this point which one suits my game better.

It seems the arc is harder to control but offers a lot more finesse and speed/distance control. It is definitely easier to mishit this stroke which leads me to believe I should change it. I've searched quite a bit on the internet for information on putting strokes but nobody can really sum up the pros or con of either style. For instance, I just saw two videos on golftips where one of the pros said that every good putter has the club go slighting inside on the backstroke (which is what I try to do), whereas the second fellow said the key is keeping the clubhead straight through entire stroke. Which one of these is correct?

And lastly, if I do use a inside-square-inside arc what type of putter should I use? A blade with a cavity perhaps? Right now I am using a Tour Edge Backdraft mallet with face weighting that I just purchased and the weight is throwing me off. I believe it is supposed to stop me from twisting the club at impact... but isn't that part of the inside square inside arc?

I hope someone can tell me what I am doing wrong since trying to do both at the same time sure isn't working for me.
post #2 of 45

Re: Putting Stroke - Arc or Straight?

Straight most of the time e.g. for putts inside 10 feet. For longer putts where distance rather than direction is foremost, do whatever comes naturally to you. Beware of "paralysis by analysis". Don't copy other people; do what is comfortable for YOU. If you want to do a lot of reading about all the aspects of putting, read Pelz' Putting Bible.
post #3 of 45

Re: Putting Stroke - Arc or Straight?

The best money I ever spent on lessons was the Dave Pelz short game school. He teaches a "straight" putting stroke. If you believe in it, it works.
post #4 of 45

Re: Putting Stroke - Arc or Straight?

A putt is a small golf swing. Therefore since you are still standing to the side of the ball, unless you manipulate the club, it will naturally swing slightly inside-square-inside. Since you are standing close to the ball, a short stroke may appear to be straight back and straight through, but it isn't.

Lay down some string or use a straight line on your rug or floor and make a stroke on it. To have the putter swinging straight back and through and keeping the face square, you will have the feeling that the putter face is actually closing on the way back and opening on the way through. This makes it very difficult to be consistent and have good feel.

As with the full swing, if you have trouble starting your putts online, check you ball position and alignment before making drastic changes.

The arc stroke should be more a natural feeling. If it isn't, you might be over doing it.
post #5 of 45

Re: Putting Stroke - Arc or Straight?

Originally Posted by RussianCarl View Post
Hello, I am a beginner golfer and I am trying my best to work on my putting. I searched the forums already and found a few interesting threads but nothing that covers this query.

Anyway, I seem to be having trouble with my putting stroke. When I first started I had a very large arc which I was told was bad and caused me to push the ball. To correct it I tried to line up and do the whole straight line only putt but that doesn't feel right. My question is how do you decide which stroke to use and which is better? I know I can become accustomed to either since I am still a beginner but I'm not sure at this point which one suits my game better.

It seems the arc is harder to control but offers a lot more finesse and speed/distance control. It is definitely easier to mishit this stroke which leads me to believe I should change it. I've searched quite a bit on the internet for information on putting strokes but nobody can really sum up the pros or con of either style. For instance, I just saw two videos on golftips where one of the pros said that every good putter has the club go slighting inside on the backstroke (which is what I try to do), whereas the second fellow said the key is keeping the clubhead straight through entire stroke. Which one of these is correct?

And lastly, if I do use a inside-square-inside arc what type of putter should I use? A blade with a cavity perhaps? Right now I am using a Tour Edge Backdraft mallet with face weighting that I just purchased and the weight is throwing me off. I believe it is supposed to stop me from twisting the club at impact... but isn't that part of the inside square inside arc?

I hope someone can tell me what I am doing wrong since trying to do both at the same time sure isn't working for me.
First off I would like to say that there is no RIGHT answer. No one putts the same, some of the tour players have and arc, some have a straight back straight through. If you use an arc you want to use a putter that is shafted towards the back, so basically any center-shafted putter you would have touble with. As to blade or mallet that is a matter of preference, I personally don't care if I have a blade or a mallet they all look fine to me. So basically when you are choosing between blade or mallet it is what suits you eyes. And yes, face balenced putters are generally for straight back straight through putters, although if you like the feel to the face balanced then go right ahead and use it. Hope this helps and good luck with finding a putter.
post #6 of 45

Re: Putting Stroke - Arc or Straight?

Originally Posted by Fried Egg View Post
A putt is a small golf swing.
No it's not. There is no weight transfer, no wristcock, nor any activity in the feet, knees or hips.

Originally Posted by Fried Egg View Post
Therefore since you are still standing to the side of the ball, unless you manipulate the club, it will naturally swing slightly inside-square-inside. Since you are standing close to the ball, a short stroke may appear to be straight back and straight through, but it isn't.
If you are turning your body, then the putt will be inside-square-inside, but today nobody does that. Modern putters keep the triangle of the two arms and shoulders intact, and rock the shoulders, to putt. Even the greats of yesterday who putted with a flip of the wrists, kept the remainder of their bodies very still.

Originally Posted by Fried Egg View Post
Lay down some string or use a straight line on your rug or floor and make a stroke on it. To have the putter swinging straight back and through and keeping the face square, you will have the feeling that the putter face is actually closing on the way back and opening on the way through. This makes it very difficult to be consistent and have good feel.

As with the full swing, if you have trouble starting your putts online, check you ball position and alignment before making drastic changes.

The arc stroke should be more a natural feeling. If it isn't, you might be over doing it.
"check your ball position" will do little for your online accuracy. Yes, ball position is important - you don't want to hit down on the ball, pushing the ball into the grass - and you don't want to hit up on the ball too much, or it will jump rather than roll.

You were correct in that alignment (of feet and shoulders) will promote online putts, but there is more to it than purely alignment. You must hit the ball on the sweetspot of the putter. If you don't do that, you won't make an accurate putt, regardless of your alignment.
post #7 of 45

Re: Putting Stroke - Arc or Straight?

Originally Posted by Fried Egg View Post
A putt is a small golf swing. Therefore since you are still standing to the side of the ball, unless you manipulate the club, it will naturally swing slightly inside-square-inside. Since you are standing close to the ball, a short stroke may appear to be straight back and straight through, but it isn't.
Exactly. I don't think it's possible to have a truly "straight" putting stroke without manipulating the club.

My advice would be to put the ball on the ground, take your putting stance, and try to hit the ball in the hole. The less you worry about whether your stroke is straight or an arc, the better. As someone else said, do what comes naturally to YOU.
post #8 of 45

Re: Putting Stroke - Arc or Straight?

Originally Posted by Weightshift View Post
No it's not. There is no weight transfer, no wristcock, nor any activity in the feet, knees or hips.



If you are turning your body, then the putt will be inside-square-inside, but today nobody does that. Modern putters keep the triangle of the two arms and shoulders intact, and rock the shoulders, to putt. Even the greats of yesterday who putted with a flip of the wrists, kept the remainder of their bodies very still.



"check your ball position" will do little for your online accuracy. Yes, ball position is important - you don't want to hit down on the ball, pushing the ball into the grass - and you don't want to hit up on the ball too much, or it will jump rather than roll.

You were correct in that alignment (of feet and shoulders) will promote online putts, but there is more to it than purely alignment. You must hit the ball on the sweetspot of the putter. If you don't do that, you won't make an accurate putt, regardless of your alignment.
A 16 handicapper telling a scratch golfer how to putt - now there's a first! LOL

(sorry, but I really couldn't resist)
post #9 of 45

Re: Putting Stroke - Arc or Straight?

Originally Posted by crazy_horst View Post
A 16 handicapper telling a scratch golfer how to putt - now there's a first! LOL

(sorry, but I really couldn't resist)
Yeah, I only play twice a week, and the season is almost over as it's getting far too cold to play. I was so cold playing yesterday, that I felt like 28 handicapper.

More importantly, do you agree with what I said?
post #10 of 45

Re: Putting Stroke - Arc or Straight?

Originally Posted by Weightshift View Post
Yeah, I only play twice a week, and the season is almost over as it's getting far too cold to play. I was so cold playing yesterday, that I felt like 28 handicapper.

More importantly, do you agree with what I said?
That the putt is not a mini-golf swing, I suppose yes. The rest I have to disagree. You do have to manipulate the club to keep it truly straight back and through. Even with the rock of your shoulders, you're doing it over an inclined (or angled) point - your spine. So long as your spine is not perpendicular to the ground, I would think it impossible for a natural rocking of the shoulders not to produce a slight arc.

Also, hitting the sweet spot is important, for sure, but not as important as alignment in terms of direction. Not hitting the sweet spot will mess with your speed, but if you're aimed 8 inches right of your target, you ain't making your putt no matter how dead on you stroke it.

I didn't mean to be critical; I think everyone has made some valuable points.
post #11 of 45

Re: Putting Stroke - Arc or Straight?

Originally Posted by crazy_horst View Post
That the putt is not a mini-golf swing, I suppose yes. The rest I have to disagree. You do have to manipulate the club to keep it truly straight back and through. Even with the rock of your shoulders, you're doing it over an inclined (or angled) point - your spine. So long as your spine is not perpendicular to the ground, I would think it impossible for a natural rocking of the shoulders not to produce a slight arc.

Also, hitting the sweet spot is important, for sure, but not as important as alignment in terms of direction. Not hitting the sweet spot will mess with your speed, but if you're aimed 8 inches right of your target, you ain't making your putt no matter how dead on you stroke it.

I didn't mean to be critical; I think everyone has made some valuable points.
Maybe you are built physically different than me

When I rock the triangle (of shoulders and arms) the putter has about 18" travel on either side of the ball before the putter starts coming inside, but those are extremes for me, as I rarely take the putter back more than 12".

Well sure, alignment is important. If I align 18" away from the target a sweetspot true hit is not going to do any good. Let's be reasonable. An off-sweetspot hit will not only reduce distance, but it'll also influence direction. I don't hold the putter in a vice grip, it's loose in my hands, so the vibration of an off sweatspot hit is immediately felt in my hands.
post #12 of 45

Re: Putting Stroke - Arc or Straight?

Straight. Or at least, as straight as possible.
post #13 of 45

Re: Putting Stroke - Arc or Straight?

Originally Posted by crazy_horst View Post
A 16 handicapper telling a scratch golfer how to putt - now there's a first! LOL

(sorry, but I really couldn't resist)
I'm pretty sure that Tiger is a better golfer than Hank Haney and Butch Harmon, but yet he listens (or listened in the case of Butch) to what they say.
post #14 of 45

Re: Putting Stroke - Arc or Straight?

Originally Posted by Weightshift View Post
No it's not. There is no weight transfer, no wristcock, nor any activity in the feet, knees or hips.
Nor is there, really, in the first 12 inches of your golf swing.

Originally Posted by Weightshift View Post
If you are turning your body, then the putt will be inside-square-inside, but today nobody does that. Modern putters keep the triangle of the two arms and shoulders intact, and rock the shoulders, to putt.
And because your spine is not perpendicular to the ground, and because the putter shaft is not perpendicular to the ground, any such "rocking" must by definition produce an arc.

Originally Posted by Weightshift View Post
When I rock the triangle (of shoulders and arms) the putter has about 18" travel on either side of the ball before the putter starts coming inside
Then you're not arcing purely or you simply aren't noticing the arc.

I've said before and I'll say again: I believe the arc stroke is the truest way to putt. It makes physical sense, both physically (your body) and in terms of physics (applied math and all that).
post #15 of 45

Re: Putting Stroke - Arc or Straight?

Originally Posted by iacas View Post
Nor is there, really, in the first 12 inches of your golf swing.
My golf swing starts with the feet, doesn't yours?


Originally Posted by iacas View Post
And because your spine is not perpendicular to the ground, and because the putter shaft is not perpendicular to the ground, any such "rocking" must by definition produce an arc.
There we obviously differ in style. My putter shaft is vertical, immediately below my eyes. It's a simple move: straight back, straight forward. Nothing could be simpler IMO.

Originally Posted by iacas View Post
I've said before and I'll say again: I believe the arc stroke is the truest way to putt. It makes physical sense, both physically (your body) and in terms of physics (applied math and all that).
post #16 of 45

Re: Putting Stroke - Arc or Straight?

Originally Posted by Rusty2228 View Post
I'm pretty sure that Tiger is a better golfer than Hank Haney and Butch Harmon, but yet he listens (or listened in the case of Butch) to what they say.
Next time he takes putting advice from a 16 handicapper, call me
post #17 of 45

Re: Putting Stroke - Arc or Straight?

Originally Posted by iacas View Post
And because your spine is not perpendicular to the ground, and because the putter shaft is not perpendicular to the ground, any such "rocking" must by definition produce an arc.
My thoughts exactly. It's funny, because when I was picturing what would produce a truly straight putting stroke, I envisioned the spine perpendicular to the ground as the only possibility.
post #18 of 45

Re: Putting Stroke - Arc or Straight?

Originally Posted by Weightshift View Post
My golf swing starts with the feet, doesn't yours?
No, and you're in a very small minority.

Originally Posted by Weightshift View Post
There we obviously differ in style. My putter shaft is vertical, immediately below my eyes. It's a simple move: straight back, straight forward. Nothing could be simpler IMO.
If your putter shaft is vertical, you've got an illegal putter. Putters can't have a vertical shaft - the shaft must be angled at least 10 degrees.

Straight below your eyes is irrelevant. Your hands, the axis point between your shoulders, and your putter head are likely not straight on top of each other. If they are, and given the rule above, the loft of your putter is sending the ball to the right.
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