A basic golf swing features many moving parts, but everything changes when you walk onto the green with a putter in your hands. Putting requires good touch and feel, and typically leaves little margin for error, so it helps to keep your putting stroke simple. As a result, your shoulders are the only joints that should move significantly when you putt.
Assume a stance that lets your shoulders swing freely. Bend forward from the waist just enough so your eyes are above the ball, but don't hunch your shoulders forward.
Keep your wrists fairly firm while you're putting, but stop just short of locking them in one position. In his book "How I Play Golf," Tiger Woods notes that your wrists may hinge "a tiny amount," particularly on longer putts.
Swing your arms from the shoulders as you take the putter back. The putter shaft and your lead forearm should form a straight line throughout the putt. You can either take the clubhead straight back, along the target line, or pull the putter slightly inside the target line during the backswing. Either way, make sure the putter is square to the target line at impact.
Maintain a smooth steady pace throughout the swing. Use the same pace as you swing through the ball that you employed on the backswing. Let your shoulders and arms do the work to avoid uneven, jerky movements.
Continue moving your shoulders after you've made contact to allow the club to follow through. Ideally, the length of your follow-through after contact should be about the same as the length of your backswing. If you took the clubhead straight back during your backswing, follow through directly toward the target. If you pulled the clubhead inside the target line, do the same during the follow-through.
Keep your head steady until you've completed the follow-through. Your shoulders should pivot around a steady head and neck. Maintain 90-degree angles between your shoulders and spine throughout the putt.
Tips & Warnings
- To help improve your distance control, Woods recommends doing a putting drill with your eyes closed. Line up the putt, assume your stance, close your eyes and then putt. Open your eyes after your follow-through to see how well you judged the distance.
- How I Play Golf; Tiger Woods and the Editors of Golf Digest
- Golf.com: Putt with Your Shoulders
- Photo Credit Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images