Thursday, August 1, 2002
Are You A Candidate For Cross-Handed Putting?
For most golfers a left-hand-low grip cures all setup flaws
Assume your current putting setup in front of a mirror. Then, lean your putter on your thigh and let your arms and hands hang relaxed. Notice the orientation of your hands. Do they hang on different lines? Slowly move your hands toward each other without changing the line on which they hang. If they meet, your hands hang neutrally and your shoulders are square to the target line. Most players have their arms and hands “out of neutral” at address. This “out of neutral” position imparts sidespin on the ball when you stroke a putt.
Now, move your ball back in your stance an inch at a time. Notice that the further back in your stance you move the ball, the squarer to the target line your shoulders become. Move the ball in your stance until you find the one that sets your shoulders square to the target line. Some golfers can square their shoulders with a forward-of-center ball position. Notice that my ball position has to be back of center in order to square my shoulders.
When you find the ball position that squares your shoulders, again, rest your putter on your thigh and let your arms and hands hang under your shoulders. Notice that your arms and hands hang in neutral and your fingertips meet when you move your hands toward each other. This square shoulders/neutral arms and hands setup will impart the best roll on the golf ball.
Are You A Candidate?
One thing I’ve learned is that golfers feel more comfortable when the ball is positioned forward in the stance. If, in the drill above, you had to move the ball back in your stance in order to achieve square shoulders, you likely felt awkward in your setup and probably felt as if you would push every putt to the right. That’s a perfectly natural feeling.
Your putting setup should be a comfortable setup. That’s why I recommend that, instead of moving your ball position back to set your shoulders square to the target line, you adopt a cross-handed putting grip. Need convincing? Try the following.
Assume your current setup. Note how open your shoulders are to your target line. Now, lower your right hand two inches below your left on the putter grip. Notice how doing so opens your shoulders even more, and how it drops your right shoulder and moves your weight to your back foot.
Go back to your current setup. This time, move your right hand up the shaft so that your hands are on the putter in the same position. Notice how your shoulders begin to square themselves to the target line.
Now, assume a left-hand-low (cross-handed) grip on your putter. Your shoulders should be square to the target line and level. Furthermore, more of your weight should transfer to your front foot.
If your shoulders are closed to the target line in this position, move your ball forward in quarter-turn intervals until your shoulders are square to the target line.
If your shoulders are still a little open to the target line, move your ball position back in quarter-turn intervals until your shoulders are square. Notice how subtle changes in your ball position create large changes in your shoulder lines.
From your new, cross-handed setup position, make a practice stroke. If the putter path is square to the target line, you’ve found the perfect, cross-handed setup.
If the putter path finishes inside or outside of the target line with your left-hand-low grip, fine-tune your setup by opening or closing your stance, depending on where you started. If you started with your stance square to the target line, open your stance a half-inch at a time. The majority of readers will need to move to a maximum of one inch open to find balance. This is due to the fact that in addition to your shoulders being open, your hips are open as well.
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