By Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk
Like many players who have struggled with their putting I switched to the belly putter 3 years ago. It helped me to create a solid triangle with my arms and lock my wrists to hit straighter putts that rolled not bounced. PGA Tour major winners such as 2013 Masters winner Adam Scott, 2012 US Open champion Webb Simpson and 2011 PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley have all found great success with anchored putters.
However, as of January 1, 2016 the rules of golf are banning all anchored putters. There was an uproar by many players on the PGA Tour. Unfortunately that did not change the decision. All golfers will have to switch back to the standard length putter or use a long putter without anchoring it.
Although there are still 2 full golf seasons before the new rule comes into effect I have decided to bite the bullet and switch now. No use falling in love with a putter I can’t use soon.
When deciding to go back to your old putter there is no universal standard for putting. However, if you have difficulty making close putts or need to transition from a belly putter back to a non-anchored putter this could be the tip for you.
I received a fabulous lesson from putting gurus Dave Stockton Sr and his son Dave Jr. They were the ones who convinced me to make the switch. Their big swing thought is using a forward hand press (leaning the shaft of the putter towards the target). They want players to focus on making the stroke with the back of their lead hand (back of left hand for right handed golfers). This is to help promote a smooth roll.
However the key to a forward hand press that most players miss is they deloft their putter by pressing it forward. Therefore, the Stocktons made sure I got a putter with 4 degrees of loft to counter the forward hand press.
If you have not had your putter checked for loft and you use or intend to use the forward hand press, see a professional club builder/fitter. This will cost less than $100 and will be the best money you spend this season. Almost half your strokes come from putting. Making sure your putter fits you and your stroke (loft, lie angle, length and grip) can help drop your score faster than any other aspect of the game.
Here are some staple tips the Stocktons gave me.
- Always pick your line from behind your Ball (crouch down to get low to see it)
- Once you pick the apex of the break go to the opposite side of it (low side) to get the best idea of slope
- Pick a spot an inch or two in front of the ball in line with the apex of the break, and focus on rolling the ball over that spot
- Don’t take Practice strokes beside your ball. Dave Sr told me that that is not the line you are putting on so don’t focus on it. He said to walk up to the ball from behind it. Stay on my back foot and hold the putter with my lead hand and place it in front of the ball. While looking down the line I picked, make some practice strokes with my trail hand and then take my stance focusing on that spot 1-2 inches in front of the ball
- Make sure your eyes are over the ball
- Roll the ball, don’t hit it. He has used the analogy of thinking of stroking a paint brush when you swing not swinging a hammer
- Keep the putter head low to the ground past impact
- Wait until the ball is past your “spot” 1-2 inches in front of the ball before you look up
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I have been using these tips and already I am making more putts and getting used to the standard length putter quickly. If you are interested in learning more about the Stocktons’ methods go to their website http://www.stocktongolf.com/
Here’s to no 3 putts this season!
Lisa is the 7-time Canadian Long Drive Champion for women, a golf entertainer and a Peak Performance Keynote speaker. Lisa can be reached through Claudio at firstname.lastname@example.org