A square putterface and a straight-back, straight-through path are crucial fundamentals for a solid stroke. These two elements control direction, which is undeniably one of the two most important aspects of good putting. However, perhaps the most important fundamental, rhythm, is often overlooked. Rhythm establishes the steadiness of the putting stroke and is the main factor in controlling distance and speed. Rhythm is the heartbeat of a good stroke, and is at least as important, if not more so, than any other aspect of successful putting._Ê_Ê
Regardless of whether your tempo is fast or slow, the clubhead should move at a constant pace going back and coming forward. If your putting stroke accelerates too quickly or decelerates abruptly at impact, it's extremely difficult to control the distance of the putt. A stroke made in this manner is easy to identify because the backstroke and followthrough are different in speed and length. The sure sign of a stroke with good rhythm is one where the backstroke and followthrough move at the same speed and are of equal lengths._Ê_Ê
A stroke with good rhythm is often described as a pendulum stroke. However, this term implies that the putter swings itself from a fixed point. Instead, it would be more appropriate to think of the stroke as being powered by the arms and shoulders while the putter is kept from swinging on its own. When the arms and shoulders control the putter, good rhythm is much easier to achieve because there's no independent motion of the putterhead. Focusing on moving the arms and shoulders (while controlling the putter) at the same speed and the same distance back and through will ensure solid contact and consistent control over the distance of your putts.
PGA teaching professional Brady Riggs instructs at Woodley Lakes GC in Van Nuys, Calif. For more information on Riggs and his instruction programs, visit www.bradyriggs.com.