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Putting: Part 4


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One of the first points to be studied in bringing our putting into line with our other shots is the position from which we play.

The first wrong impression we get about putting is that we should be "over the top of the ball."

This is often brought about by having too upright a putter and is a great mistake.

This being over the ball is the pendulum idea again, with elbows stuck out away from the body.

The good putter feels inside the ball, and his elbows, forearms, and left hand are kept very close in — even touching the body.

Actually we can stand as near to the ball as the "pendulum down the line of flight" people can, maybe nearer.

But with our flatter putter we can keep our hands close in without cocking the toe of the putter up in the air — it can touch the green all along the sole.

Another advantage of not having to feel over the top of the ball is that we can keep well back on our heels, which is an essential to stroking from in-to-out.

About the putter itself.

The face of mine is neither too wide nor too short, and its angle is almost 90°, but not quite because we need just to see the face.

To offset this, the front bottom edge is rounded off so that, if I do come up a little, it is a rounded edge not a sharp one that is presented to the ball.

So the bottom edge of the blade is underlapping a concave face from halfway down, a detail which helps toward perfect stroking.

Also, I have the top of my shaft, where I grip it, flattened.

This I prefer to a square shaft because while it gives the same effect it encourages a lighter touch, and lightness of touch is important.

Now, here is a curious coincidence. I came by this putter almost by accident, in fact it was picked out of a batch as likely "to suit the Boss" by one of my club makers at St. Cloud.

Years later curiosity prompted me to measure its lie (the angle between the sole of the blade and the shaft), and I found it to be exactly the same as that of Bobby Jones's famous putter "Calamity Jane.”

Now though we must not stand over the ball, we need to be more squat about the knees and hips for the putt than we do for longer shots.

Yet above the waist we must feel up, because unless we are up with our head and shoulders, we cannot feel that we can keep the club head down through the ball.

Next, do not try to take the club head back along the line of flight.

Take it back low with the left hand and do not open the blade. If you will study this on a carpet with lines on it, you will find that when you do this the blade goes inside in spite of you.

This is as it should be; in putting as in driving or playing any other shot, we should not consciously take the club inside on the way back; though if we are properly set well back on our heels and keep the putter blade low, that is where it will go.

To lift the putter blade back is putting suicide.

To keep it low in the follow through is one of the signs of the great artist.

I feel that I take the putter blade back with the left hand and then roll the ball forward out of my right The club head and right hand become one in feel.

I do not feel that I hit the ball forward but feel that I roll it along from behind.

I can feel the ball roll off the face of the putter.

In fact when I am putting well, I feel the ball stick for an instant against the face of the putter and then unstick and roll forward as I follow through. With such a feeling, I can be confident that the ball will attain full run dead strength as we have called it.

But I warn you that all this will be of no avail if you hold yourself stiffly.

To putt well we must be supple and loose. We must not be flabby; we must be conscious of our body being held up by its braces, yet not so braced as to impede movement.

All our muscles must be mobilized, but they must be mobile.

Do not sway to-and-fro, but on the other hand do not get fixed; there is a great deal of difference.

Remember that if we are to swing our putter head correctly every muscle from head to foot must co-operate.

Some of their movements are invisible; some of their changes in tension infinitesimal; yet they are all essential.

The putt is just as responsive a movement as is a full shot, and there must be opposition to every movement.

I have told you that I putt as I drive, so the same rules hold.

If when you are driving you become a direct hitter, you will begin to pull and slice and exactly the same thing will happen (on a reduced scale of course) if you hit your putts direct.

Now, I will give you a paradox to think out:

No beginner thinks putting difficult; he just goes up to the ball and taps it along to the hole, and as often as not it goes in.

It is not until he misses a few as he is bound to do that he forsakes this natural and effective if inelegant style and tries to "learn how" from then on he becomes an ordinary handicap putter.

So here is the paradox: natural golfers are bad golfers but natural putters are good putters.

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