The Battering Ram Stroke
by Geoff Mangum
In order to "flush" your putts for pure, straight rolls, think of the stroke as swinging a battering ram suspended beneath two handles or ropes straight and level thru the ball.
1. If you had no arms, and instead had two metal rings for shoulder sockets and two short lengths of rope hanging from each socket, at the ends of which was suspended a heavy metallic battering ram 2-feet long that hovered just off the surface of the green with the head poised behind a golf ball, how would you putt the ball straight?
2. If you still had your arms, and the same battering ram had two handles instead of ropes so that holding the battering ram, each arm hangs straight down, how would you putt the ball straight?
3. If you had a "putter" that was specially designed so the face had a battering ram extending straight out down the target line about two inches, and you held the putter with a conventional grip, how would you putt the ball straight?
4. If you had a conventional putter in your hands, how would you putt the ball straight?
The four questions above ought to illustrate the similarity in the body movements between swinging a suspended battering ram and making a stroke powered with your shoulderframe. Here are some explicit points of similarity:
The disimilarity is:
Perhaps if the Roman design were altered so that the shoulderframe / ridgepole and the battering ram were opposite sides of a rectangle, and the WHOLE rectangle swung back and thru beneath a single fixed pivot centered thru the ridgepole / shoulderframe, this design would more accurately describe a good shoulder stroke. Refining this image, on the bottom of the battering ram, sticking straight down from the center of its length, imagine a half-putter about a foot and a half long with the face of the putter squared up behind a ball. The shoulder motion to move such a contraption and putt the ball straight is simple: back shoulder socket moves straight up, then rock in the transition thru the bottom of the stroke and then lead shoulder socket moves straight up -- all in the single plane of the rectangle.
MAKE THIS PART OF YOUR GAME
You can make you own battering ram very simply from a length of pipe or some lumber and two bathrobe sashes. Just fashion a SWAT Team battering ram and make some strokes. Then try locating the sashes on the ram fairly close together while holding the two sashes in a unified grip of the two hands, with the ram balanced horizonatally. Making a stroke now should be more difficult, but the feedback will focus your attention on the shoulders and the plane of motion. Alternatively, you could hold two similarly shaped brief cases at the ends of your arms and try to make a stroke that keeps each briefcase parallel to the other, and preferably square to the target line also. On the practice green, try to forget about your arms and hands and just move the shoulderframe. This action ought to help overcome the powerful tendency to use your arms and hands to move the putter.
Battering Ram Ride, Busch Gardens, San Marco, Italy
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.