Slice Your Thumb Knuckle
by Geoff Mangum
For a straight-back and straight-thru stroke path, run your thumb knuckle along a a razor-sharp blade -- OUCH!
A pretty good tip is to putt as if sliding your elbows along a rail in your stroke (but see Tip 4 below for more). This is a variation that shifts the awareness to your hands, and particularly your thumbs. Imagine a sword blade at the height of your thumb knuckle, and keep the knuckle in contact with the blade's edge going back, and then coming forward. OUCH!
This tip accomplishes a couple of important things about a good stroke. First, it teaches you about NOT taking the putterhead out past the line in the takeaway. The cause of this is practically always the hand muscles getting active just at the start of the takeaway.
The second problem is allowing the thumbs to alter orientation as the stroke goes forward. This is the reason George Low, a great putter and putting teacher in the heyday of Arnold Palmer and others, advised actually digging your thumbnails into the grip so the thumbs would start straight down the grip and stay straight down the grip (or, more precisely, "square" throughout the stroke). The thumbs only alter orientation at the beck and call of hand muscles changing the grip shape or the elbow pulling or pushing, so focusing on the thumbs as moving along an edge pointed parallel to the putt line helps keep the thumbs "square" and the hands steadily oriented during the stroke.
For more tips and information on putting, including a free 10,000+ database of putting lore and the Web's only newsletter on putting (also free), visit Geoff's website at http://www.puttingzone.com, or email him directly at email@example.com.