Golfers tend to be traditionalists – except, that is, when it comes to putting. For some reason, the complex motions required to send a ball 250 yards or more through the air seem simple compared to the act of rolling the same ball three feet along the ground. Because of this, golfers constantly are searching for new ways to stroke the ball on the green. One of the most popular methods is called square-to-square putting.
In most putting strokes, the head of the putter makes a shallow arc around the player with the toe of the putter moving past the heel. This movement is sometimes called "releasing the putter head." In the square-to-square method, the putter head moves straight back from the ball, then straight through to the finish. The toe and heel of the putter stay equidistant from the ball throughout the entire stroke.
By far the most popular teacher of this method is Dave Pelz, who refers to it as the "pure-in-line-square" or PILS stroke. In fact, Pelz's book, "Dave Pelz's Putting Bible," is one of the thickest and most comprehensive putting books available … and it's completely devoted to the square-to-square method. Although Pelz is the most notable proponent of this method, other instructors do teach similar techniques.
Although this is sometimes called a pendulum stroke, that's not quite accurate. The idea is merely to mimic the pendulum's even rhythm while swinging the putter back and through in a fairly straight line. This way, the face of the putter remains square to the intended line of the stroke and any problems with direction are minimized. In fact, Pelz recommends practicing with a metronome in order to learn the proper rhythm. The player does lean over enough that his shoulders can swing the putter with its shaft kept as vertical as possible, but this isn't an attempt to duplicate a pendulum's motion; it's purely a practical matter. Because the Rules of Golf require a putter shaft to lean at least 10 degrees off vertical, the player must bend over enough that his elbows can swing without hitting his midsection.
Like most putting methods, the popularity of the square-to-square method comes and goes, depending on what the current PGA Tour winners are using at the moment. Many people are attracted by the simplicity of the concept, if not the execution; an error in setup is less forgiving in this method than in any other. However, it's easy to create a "practice putting station" with a couple of 2 by 4s. Simply lay them down parallel to each other, slightly farther apart than the width of the putter head, and practice stroking between them without hitting either one. As you get better, you can move the 2 by 4s closer together. For those willing to put in the practice time, the square-to-square method can be an effective way to putt.