While there are many ways to putt a golf ball, the two most conventional methods are the straight approach and the arc stroke, according to PGA instructor Jeff Ritter. Both swings accomplish exactly what their names suggest. Golfers using a straight stroke take the club head directly back, then swing forward; the club head remains along the target line from start to finish. Players employing the arc approach move their putters in a gentle curve, reminiscent of a normal golf swing in which a wood or iron moves inside the target line on the backswing, squares up at impact, then pulls back inside the line during the follow-through, says instructor Jon Paschetto.
The fundamental feature of the arc putting style is the club head’s curved path. The putter head moves to the inside of the target line on the backswing, then returns to the ball along the same arc. The club head is only square to the target line when it impacts the ball, according to Paschetto. The head then moves back inside the line on the follow-through. The overall sequence is “slightly to the inside, down the line, then back to the inside,” says PGA pro Tom Cannarozzo. Teaching pro Shawn Clement says the putting stroke naturally “forms its own arc” when the arms and putter hang straight down from the shoulders, with the ball in the middle of your stance.
Arms and Shoulder Motion
Paschetto says it’s important for an arc putter to keep elbows close to the sides during the swing. Clement focuses on the arms and club forming a Y-shape, which he says should be maintained throughout the swing. Cannarozzo emphasizes that your shoulders must rotate to keep the putter’s head close to the ground.
The arc putting stroke is more suited to a blade putter, while a mallet putter is a better choice for those using the straight approach, Ritter says. Cannarozzo further suggests that arc players use a toe-heavy putter -- which, he says, “will allow the weight of the putter to shut that clubface and let it rotate naturally.”
To practice an arc putting stroke, Ritter recommends taking your putter on the green, placing the toe of the club against a curved edge of the fringe, then swinging it along the edge. He says to “make a smooth, rhythmic motion so the toe slightly opens and closes to the arc of the green.” Golf instructor David Leadbetter says to place a straight shaft on the ground, lined up with a target. Make sure the putter’s head is square to the target when you take your stance. As you swing, “the putterhead should start on the shaft and drift slightly to the inside on (both) the backstroke and through-stroke.”