ZipTip: Stroke: The Big
You should play
the ball forward of the middle of your stance (which is the bottom of
your stroke arc), but maybe you should place the putterhead down not
behind the ball but in the middle of the stance -- and this Big Gap
can be useful.
place the putterhead directly behind the ball at address, with just
a tiny gap between the putterface and the back of the ball. But that
conflicts with the sound advice to play the ball forward in your putting
stance so that the stroke gets back to the bottom of its arc before
making contact. The bottom of the arc is in the middle of the stance,
but the ball is forward -- usually about two inches, or opposite the
heart or lung and not the sternum. Placing the putterhead also forward
of the bottom of the arc creates a problem -- either the putter's sole
has to be a little higher off the turf than otherwise (because farther
forward in the up-going part of the arc of the stroke) or the backstroke
will start into the turf. If the latter, you will have to make some
mid-stroke adjustments with your body (probably the wrists and elbows)
to get a smooth takeaway. One common trick is the forward press, which
reorients the stroke's takeaway before it starts so it goes flat back
and not downward back from this forward starting position.
Since in my book
a forward press is not a good trade (rhythm by giving up putterface
orientation security), I'd just as soon forget the forward press, but
I want the ball forward. So, I just place the putterhead down at the
bottom of the arc in the center of my stance. This creates a BIG gap
(about two inches, or three fingers wide) between the putterface and
the back of the ball!
Not to worry though
-- make lemonade instead! The GAP shifts the emphasis from the moment
of impact at the back of the ball to a more spread-out focus on the
stroke-in-time as it moves through the ball on line. The Gap, in other
words, shows you the line of the stroke more than it does the point
of impact. And, as it happens, that's better!
Plus, by starting
the putterhead at the point where the stroke ought to return to vertical
at the bottom of the stroke arc, you have a better chance of having
your stroke actually return to vertical as planned. This is true for
a number of reasons.