While many golfers have found the driver as the most desirable club to perfect, the putter may be the best choice for lowering your golf score.
Imagine yourself making long putts from 10 – 20 feet away from the hole on a consistent basis. This alone could cut down on several strokes from your score, not to mention all the close range putts you’d start making as well.
But before we can dream about being a great putter, let’s first analyze the two important putting strokes golfers rely on; Arc Putting and Straight Putting.
What are these putting strokes? Which one should you use? These are questions we will answer below in today’s putting tips guide.
What is Straight Putting?
The straight through stroke is where the putter stays on a straight line when you swing it backwards and then forwards into the golf ball. Keeping the putting motion perfectly straight, helps you control the putter and hit the golf ball on your target line.
The putter still swings like a pendulum, lifting slightly upwards off the ground on the backstroke, then lowers back towards the turf at impact, and lifts up slightly again during follow through.
For straight putting to be effective, your eyes need to be directly above the ball, looking down at it. Make sure when setting up to putt, your head is in the proper position and your eyes could draw a straight, vertical line down to the golf ball.
From here, you can easily see if your ball starts on the correct line as well as if you kept the putter head straight back and straight through during the putting motion.
What is Arc Putting?
Image drawing a straight line from your golf ball to the hole. Extend that line backwards a few feet behind the golf ball so you have this perfectly straight imaginary line to set up to with your putting stance and feet.
Now picture the putter head following that line perfectly straight backwards when you take the putter away from the ball. This is straight putting.
Arc putting is when that putter would slightly arc to the inside of that line during the takeaway / backstroke.
As you begin the forward stroke, the putter head would need to follow that arc back to the golf ball so that you hit the ball with a straight & squared up putter face. Then during the follow through, the putter would arc back to the inside of that straight line slightly.
See this illustration
How Do I Know Which Putting Stroke to Choose?
Which one you use depends on personal comfort and natural dominance that you feel by trying both out at the golf course. Just as someone would throw a baseball left handed and right handed to determine which hand is dominant.
You’ll discover that either the arc stroke or the straight stroke fits you best naturally and feels most comfortable to use as your putting stroke.
What are the Pro’s and Con’s of Using Each Putting Stroke Type:
Straight Putting Stroke Pro’s
Very simple to visualize and practice
Great for face balanced putters
Easier to keep putts straight on line
Straight Putting Stroke Con’s
May feel unnatural trying to stay perfectly straight with no arc
Easy to twist the hands and hit putts with an open/closed face
Arc Putting Pro’s
More natural feeling to arc your swing motion like with irons/driver
Fits toe weighted putters best
Arc Putting Con’s
Different arc each time,
Forget to close the face, you’ll push putts right
How to Practice Straight Putting?
If you decide that the straight back straight through putting stroke is best for you, you’ll want to practice it quite often to get used to moving the putter in a straight motion and reduce twisting of the putter face.
To monitor twisting of the putter face, we recommend snapping a chalk line on the putting practice green to give yourself a visual straight line to set up to.
As you move the putter back in the backstroke, monitor the face relative to the chalk line. It should remain at a 90 degree angle to the line.
You don’t need a golf ball for this practice drill. Simply focus on making practice strokes and getting the feel of swinging the putter head straight backwards and straight forwards. Then when you are ready, introduce a golf ball.
Draw a straight chalk line to the hole from 10 feet away. Make sure this 10 foot putt is perfectly straight.
Set up and hit putts using the straight putting stroke and watch how the ball rolls down the line into the cup. You’ll quickly notice if you hit the putt with an open or closed face as the ball will not remain on the straight line for long, veering off left or right.
How to Practice Arc Putting?
To practice an arc putting stroke, you can draw yourself a slight arcing line and use it as a guide line to follow with your putter face. Follow the arc back on the takeaway and follow it forwards as you approach the golf ball.
Your putter face should always remain 90 degrees to this arc line, that way when you return the putter along the arc line to the ball, it will be squared up again as it makes contact with the ball.
You can also practice using a training aid made for arc putting strokes. This alignment tool will help train you how to control the putter head without twisting your hands to manipulate the opening and shutting of the face.
A great drill to practice is setting two golf balls side by side so they are touching. Perform your normal putting motion and when the face makes contact with the golf balls, it should strike both at the same time with a squared up face relative to the target line.
You’ll notice something happen right away. Either both golf balls will roll equally next to each other, or one golf ball will dominate and take the lead ahead of the other.
If the top golf ball leads, your putter face was slightly closed at impact causing the toe of the putter to make contact first, hence the top ball starts rolling ahead of the bottom ball.
If the bottom golf ball leads, you struck with heel first on the putter, meaning an open putter face, as the toe of the face lagged behind and didn’t make it back square, 90 degrees to the target line.
Overall, I hope today’s guide on arc putting and straight putting helps you better understand the putting motion and gives new perspective as to why you may be having consistency problems on the putting green. Check your stroke and make sure it suits the style of putter you have.
If you have an arcing putting motion, try out some toe weighted putters that help you close the face during the stroke. If you have a straight putting motion, test out face balanced putters that help reduce the putter’s tendency to want to twist.