Who has won more PGA Tour events than anyone in history? Could it be that the putting swing should not be viewed as a small version of the full swing? Sam Sneed obviously came to that conclusion along with Bryson Dechambeau.
Many today view the putting stroke as simply a small version of the full swing in which we must train our bodies to move correctly, your stroke might be evidence of that trend. You might look great in your set up position but does your style roll the ball down your line consistently?
This article is meant to challenge the current trend in Arc style putting which is to stand tall with good posture, connect the upper arms to the body and move the club with your thorax (chest cavity) from inside the line on the backswing to inside on your follow through. The face angle stays square to the path of the club which is to say the face would be pointing right of target on the backswing and left of target on the follow through.
This method requires you to move your body pivot in a manner that will return the face to square at impact, any fault in your swing will surely start the ball in the wrong direction as the face angle is only square to the target for a blink of an eye.
It the photos below you will see the difference between the Old School method on the top row and the new arc style method on the bottom row. The primary difference is the hands are much closer to the body in the old school method while in arc style the hands are further away. Although the arc style clearly displays better posture, is it more effective?
The oldies had a much different method that worked well, the upper body is bent over more with the hands close to the body with elbows bent. This allows the path to go straight back and through. The club face stays square to the target the entire stroke.
The most important determinant of good putting is no doubt face angle at impact which accounts for 92% of your starting direction. A putter face that is only 2 degrees off will miss the hole from 1.5 meters, 1 degree from 2.5 meters and only ½ degree from 4.5 meters. When you are Arc style putting, you are hoping to move your body (swing) in a manner that returns the face angle to square. Although this can be achieved, it is difficult for many on a consistent basis.
The putter manufactures have influenced the new arc style because over time they have built putters that are longer, heavier, and larger. These new putters allow you to stand taller and further from the ball. Golf coaches now fit putters based on how much arc you have in your swing and size you up for either face balanced or toe hang putters which influence face rotation. You would be hard pressed to find a short, light, small headed putter in most golf stores today.
To try old school, you must first have a new concept, that the putting swing is not a smaller version of a full golf swing, you will not be turning your body creating a pendulum style swing. In the old school method we will be keeping our bodies still, specifically the front shoulder. You will be bending over the ball with your hands close to your body, you may be able to grip down on your current putter or find that you need a shorter putter. A face balanced putter will work best with old school as it will reduce face rotation.
The picture below is Arnold Palmer who looks just like my father who was also a great putter. Arnold stood this way to limit his body motion.
The power does not come specifically from the length of your stroke. It comes from a force known as Parametric Acceleration which is a vertical lowering and lifting of the handle. To give it a try simply lower your hands on the backswing then raise them on the through swing, your arms will be making this motion with a free hinge in your elbows and wrists. This action shortens the arc which accelerates the club head much like sweeping with a broom.
Advantages of Old School style
I will leave you with a fun video of the best golfer you have never heard about. He was possibly the best trick shot artist who ever lived. His name was Harry Frankenburg, born in 1906 - he was born an American Indian into poverty and blessed with an IQ of 180. He was not a PGA tour player but an entertainer who accumulated a boatload of amazing records back in the 1950's. As you watch him putt on the youtube video below, observe the Old School method in action.
Count Yogi Mantra…“Simple game - Nothing to it.” It was all about controlling the clubhead, and “you should always be loose, boneless, muscleless, effortless, because when you are, you can mentally control the clubhead.