My motto since I started teaching has been that “Putting is a very simple motion made complicated by an incorrect setup”. Anyone can stand relaxed, put their hands together without a putter, and move their hands, arms and chest. When the putter goes in the hands, then things change. The posture might become slumped or the head may get cocked, therefore distorting the eye-line, etc.
For far too long, in my opinion, fundamentals in putting have received a free pass. I was told to “just do whatever is comfortable”. Unfortunately, that was bad advice. The greatest pressure putter certainly in my generation, Tiger Woods, had rock solid fundamentals (His grip and pressure have certainly diminished his skills). Zach has always had them. I don’t think it is any coincidence that their strokes have held up because they haven’t had to make any compensations to square the putter at impact.
You may not have the talent of Tiger Woods or Zach Johnson, but it does not take any talent to set up correctly to the ball. The fundamentals are grip, alignment, stance, and posture. I will offer these in depth on this site through various mediums. When you have a bio-mechanically correct setup, where all your lines are parallel and square to the target, the putter is designed to swing on an arc and return to square automatically. When that is the case, you can be into the target and not worry about the mechanics. Instincts can take over and putting becomes free and the art that it should be! So don’t fix your stroke, fix your set up!
This philosophy can also be extrapolated out into the short game and the full swing. I am very passionate about establishing a neutral foundation with the correct spine tilt and level hips. I am equally passionate about changing your golf swing in the gym and not on the range if you want to reach your full potential. Block practicing, where you hit balls for hours, gives you a false sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, it doesn’t necessarily carry over when you step onto the first tee.
I readily acknowledge that there are many ways and swing theories that will help you get better. Perhaps you have tried a lot of them. To me, a good swing that can repeat without a great deal of effort and timing comes down to four things. They are, in order:
- Your Body: This encompasses range of motion, strength and balance. If you are lacking in any of these, you won’t be efficient. You will also end up with various injuries down the road.
- Your Setup: This includes the familiar fundamentals as well as neutral angles. If you do not have neutral angles, your hands cannot take the simplest path on which they are designed to travel. A poor setup will also lead to injuries if it hasn’t already.
- Your Sequence: If you do not have the first two, your sequence of movements will be compromised and your swing will break down. To square the face at impact will require timing and effort. It can be done, it is just not always reliable.
- Flow: In order to have flow, you need the first three on the list. Otherwise, you will have too many swing thoughts, which leads to anxiety and tension. It is no fun to play like that!
To play your best golf, you must allow movement to happen. If you “try” to do certain things, that is tantamount to effort and therefore tension. I believe I can present a better way for you. My way, while simple, is certainly not easy. I just happen to believe that you pay for everything up front: getting your body in shape, establishing neutral angles at setup and rehearsing and practicing properly. The reward is then Free Motion Golf.