To teach yourself to putt successfully, you must study the putt in its relation to the technique of every ether shot in the game, not as a thing apart. That is why I say to my pupils at the very start of their golfing days, "I putt as I drive."
Of course, having seen with their own eyes the fierce sweeping through of a long drive and mentally com. pared it with the delicate accuracy with which a short putt is stroked on its way, they look incredulous when I first tell them this.
Later, as their understanding of the game develops, they see the truth of it, though some of them are then inclined to argue that, "I putt as I drive," should really run "I drive as I putt!"
Now as I have told you, I wanted to find a mechanical action, a golf movement-with which all shots could be played, so as to develop perfect and uncomplicated reflex movements.
I hope I have already made it clear why it is that if we change our fundamental golf movement for the playing of any shot, that shot not only fails to help build up reliable feel and reflex movements; it actually complicates and confuses the feels and reflex movements which have been built up.
Before I had reached my present conclusion on these matters, I knew that Bobby Jones had said that the putting stroke was like any other and that in actual application the Pendulum Stroke is a physical impossibility.
Incidentally he had also classified keeping the head still as a fallacious golf maxim.
Also one day when Walter Hagen was putting, he turned to Aubrey and said, "I can't stroke from in-to-out today."
Now all of this confirmed my opinion that it should be possible to putt as we drive and encouraged me in my search for the method.
And you need not be surprised that it took me quite a few years to find and to master it.
Firstly, the fundamental golf movement is centrifugal, and we are used to using centrifugal forces so forcefully that to tone it down until one could stroke home a nasty four-foot putt on a fast green took some doing.
But when it was done, I found I could sink more of these nasty short putts than I could before.
The second big problem I came up against was how to follow through a short putt on a fast green.
I took to cutting down my back swing, making it shorter and shorter, but never it seemed quite short enough.
Then one day while I was practicing on the green, I put my putter down behind the ball and just rolled the ball forward, with no back swing at all, only a forward push of the club head from the right hand.
Now I know that this was a foul stroke, but its sensual value to your golfing education cannot be overrated.
Try it yourself, and you at once feel and realize how the ball should run off the face of the putter and how little muscular power or pressure is needed to roll the ball into the hole.
This muscular power (such as it is) should come entirely through the right hand and forearm; the left only comes into play on the back swing.
Since in putting the movement is so slight and delicate, very little centrifugal force is generated, and it is most difficult to feel the club head; so we try to get as much feel as possible in the right hand.
That is the reason for adopting the reverse overlapping grip: it gives increased right-hand feel.
When you first try this trick of rolling the ball towards the hole, you will find that you are holding your right hand and forearm as stiff as a poker.
They should not be stiff at all.
You should hold your putter no tighter than you hold your pen. In playing the longer shots we mainly need to use the grosser muscles, but we must learn to progressively hold our muscles more and more lightly as the shots become shorter.
It is because we do not realize this that we are bad putters, not because we are born to be bad putters as the stupid adage suggests.
"Let the club head do the work" is just as good advice in putting as in driving. But how much work is there in putting-how much pressure does it need to roll a ball four or five yards?
Practically none; therefore the tension in our muscular system should be practically nil. The last thing I say to myself before I take my putter back is, "Don't tighten, you old fool."