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Learning to Putt Properly Is Not a Dance Party

Peter Harris

Peter Harris

Still shaky with your putting?

The greens at golf courses all around the Upper Valley are in the best condition in years. It’s summertime, and the greens are rolling fast and true. But many golfers with shaky putting are doing the shaky dance with their lower bodies throughout the stroke.

The shaky dance may work for us at weddings, alumni reunions and nightclubs, but not on the putting green.

Solid putting starts with a solid foundation. The putting stroke is best delivered with the shoulders, arms and hands working in unison and the rest of our body quiet, head included. Ultimately, if we don’t make our first putt, we are trying to two-putt and save strokes to our scorecard.

If our legs are dancing, our ability to hit a putt solid and at the desired pace and direction becomes next to impossible.

Establishing good posture is the start of building a solid foundation. Tilt your upper body from the hips, and bend your knees so your arms hang comfortably. Your feet should be no wider than shoulder width, and you should feel athletic and balanced.

If you’re not sure what feeling balanced is like, grab your putter and find a garden hose to stand on. Stand with the insteps or arches in the middle of your feet centered directly on the hose. The idea is to find your weight distribution and balance, where your heels and toe are applying equal pressure on the ground. You can make this more difficult by turning the hose on and filling the tube with water. Now you’ll really work harder to establish a balanced posture with both heels and toes off the ground!

When in balance, you will feel your legs, glutes and core muscles engage, providing stability. The goal is to maintain this balance and stability through the entire stroke. Practice some putts standing on the hose and feel the minor adjustments you make to maintain your balance. This will happen intuitively.

Step off the hose and recreate the balanced feel while standing directly on the ground. Your feet should feel glued into the ground. A quieter and more stable lower body with no movement during the putting stroke will allow you to develop consistency when managing speed, distance and accuracy.

So keep your lower body still and stop dancing. The putting green is no dance floor!

Peter Harris is director of golf at the Fore-U Golf Center in West Lebanon. His column will appear regularly on the VALLEY NEWS recreation page during the playing season.