Marius Filmalter: How to Align Your Shoulders to Make More Putts
One of the most common questions I get asked by amateurs and professional golfers is:
“How do I become more consistent?”
That’s what we all strive for!
Answer: “The proper alignment will most definitely help with that!”
The proper hip and feet alignment in the full swing can make the difference between hitting your intended target or a ball that sails off into the bushes.
Putting is an entirely different animal.
In the putting stroke, your feet and lower body don't play a major role in the quality or direction of your putts. Why? Because the lower body is absolutely stationary during the entire motion. Just take a look at some of the greatest putters of the past few decades...
Jack Nicklaus: Always set up open to the target on his putts.
Tiger Woods: Prefers to keep everything square.
Gary Player: More of a closed stance; with his right foot pulled back.
Although they had different putting styles, all of them were phenomenal putters because they all kept their lower body quiet.
When you make a proper putting stroke, your lower body DOES NOT MOVE. All of the "movement" is made with your upper body, namely your core muscles.
More to the point, it is your shoulders and your forearms that need to be aligned properly to the target line, not your feet and lower body. This is critical to making a good putting stroke and solid contact with the ball.
For example, if your shoulders and forearms are pointing to the left, your stroke path will be out-to-in, resulting in a lot of pulled putts that miss left. This is a common mistake amongst amateurs and professional golfers alike.
Conversely, if your shoulders and forearms are pointing right, you'll typically make a more in-to-out stroke that could result in missing putts to the right.
Needless to say, neither one of these positions offers the best chance for sinking putts.
To be more consistent on the putting green, properly align yourself to the intended target line. In the case of a breaking putt, your target line is the apex point: the point in the path that the ball will begin to break toward the hole. Once you are aligned correctly to this point, all you need to do is focus on making a good stroke with the proper speed and everything else should fall into place.
So how do we know when we're properly aligned?
Here's a great drill to help you establish that...
1. Set up over the ball for a normal putt.
2. Raise your forearms at a right angle to your hips, like you were holding your arms out to catch something that was falling.
3. Balance the putter on your forearms.
The shaft should be pointing directly to your target line and where you want to start the ball.
Do this drill consistently on the practice green and you'll start seeing fast improvement on how well your putts hold the line.
So let's review:
The position of you lower body doesn't matter in your putting stroke. You can set up open, closed, or square...whatever is most comfortable to you.
The key to properly aligning yourself is getting your shoulders and forearms aligned with your target line. And if you're facing a breaking putt, you need to align yourself with the apex point of the putt.
Focus on getting your shoulders and forearms in alignment, and soon you'll start watching more of your putts find the bottom of the hole.
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