I would say that one in three clients at the Sydney Putting Studio ask me whether I believe the putting stroke should be straight back and straight through. Over the next two articles I will explain — and more importantly prove — that the putting stroke should NOT be straight back and straight through.
Dave Pelz, the well-known short game guru in the US is a strong believer in this method, but even after I attended a Pelz short game school in New York in 2008 and listening to the theories, I am convinced that it is definitely flawed. The Planeputt training aid (pictured here) has helped me understand the truth, which I will share with you and hopefully help you make more putts and lower your scores
Before we get into it, I need to point out that the R&A and USGA stipulate that we cannot use a club with a shaft angle that is 90 degrees (i.e. straight up and down – perfectly vertical). I guess this is because they think it would make putting too easy. I think they stopped this after Sam Snead started putting side-saddle. The rule says the shaft angle must be at least 10 degrees flatter than vertical (with a maximum of 80 degrees). My putter’s lie angle in these photos, for example, is 72 degrees.
So if the putter shaft at address has a natural incline, then swinging the putter straight back and straight through (i.e. along the target line on the way back and also along the target line on the way through) effectively de-lofts the putter during the backswing and adds loft during the forward swing.
You are probably asking “so what is the correct way then?” If you look at the photo here you will see that I have adjusted the two poles on the planeputt to match the angle of my set-up (some people would set them up more vertical and some flatter depending on their set up and preferences). All I need to do then is keep my putter shaft on both poles back and through on every stroke which means I will be swinging the putter on my correct plane.
In the next article I will explain in more detail how opening and closing the face during the stroke is also incorrect and will have a negative impact on your putting.