Everyone knows that good putting is vital to shooting good scores but it is often glossed over when we practice. This is the first of three parts on how to improve your putting this winter. This weeks’ subject is putter path. Putter path problems lead to pulled and pushed putts and force compensations during the stroke. The putter path can be straight back/straight through, inside/out, or outside/in. Any of the three will work fine and there are examples of all three playing the tour right now. The key to great putting is repeating the same path. The best way to practice path is with a track designed for this type of practice.
They can be purchased from any golf training aids dealer or you can make your own. The track I use is plastic, is adjustable, and is inexpensive. Personally I like a straight back and through stroke. To improve this with a track set the rails so you have about 1/2 inch clearance on both sides. Set the ball in the middle of the track. Then put something that will block the roll of the ball a foot or so beyond the end of the rail. Why? We are practicing our putter path and are not concerned with a target for the ball at this point. Hit a few putts. If the putter is scraping or contacting a rail either side of the putter blade then observe how often it is happening. Ideally you will hit the rails about half the time when you start. With practice your path will improve and you will be missing the rails most of the time. It may take a few days to get to this point or it may take a few weeks. When you are missing the rails most of the time it is time to squeeze the rails closer together. It is worth noting that the placement of your hands in regard to your shoulders affects the path. Hands place directly below the shoulders aid a straight path. Hands outside the shoulders promote an inside/out stroke and inside the shoulders an outside/in stroke. This is the first step in improving your putting. You will be amazed at what this simple practice can do for your scores.