I went to dinner recently with a friend and he asked me what part of the ball I was trying to hit when I putted. After I admitted that I never really thought of it quite like that, I probed further. What he was really asking was did I hit up on the ball, down on the ball or somewhere in between. Good question!!
I have heard many golfers tell me that they try to hit up on the ball to put topspin on the ball and get it rolling as soon as possible. While I agree with the idea of getting it rolling quickly, I disagree with hitting up on it to accomplish the goal. First let me address the “topspin” notion. The only way you can impart “topspin” on a ball is if you make contact above the equator of the ball. Making contact above the equator of the ball, I think most of us would agree, doesn’t seem like it would be the most efficient way to propel a golf ball. Feel free to try it and let me know how that works for you!!
Most putters tend to have about four degrees of loft on them. Many people do not realize that…they assume that it is a “straight face”. Therefore, if I were to try to hit up on the ball to get it rolling, I am actually adding loft with the ascending blow and the ball will have too much “air time” before it starts to roll or in this case bounce and then roll. Not only would it have too much “air time,” there is a good chance that there would be some backspin put on the ball. In my opinion, because of the loft on the club, the putt should be hit with the shaft leaning slightly forward with at least a level stroke and maybe even a slight down stroke. With a level stroke, the ball will still catch air before it starts to roll. Again, the goal is to get the ball rolling as soon as efficiently possible. With a “slight” descending blow, the putter makes contact with the ball just below the equator and will be slightly de-lofted at impact. The ball will still catch air (just enough to get it up on top of the grass), and it will start to roll sooner, which results in a putt that will hold its line much more efficiently. Be careful though! If you hit too steeply down on it, you will literally push the ball down into the grass, causing it to pop up and bounce…not what you are trying to accomplish!
So next time you have some time to devote to some practice, make a couple of adjustments in your setup and stroke. At setup, be sure to have the shaft of the putter leaning slightly toward the hole. The goal of the stroke is to return to this position at the moment of impact. Another thing to think about is ball position. Most people I see have the ball too far forward in their stance to promote the ascending blow we have talked about. Move the ball back to just in front of center. The combination of the ball position further back and the shaft leaning forward will give you the silky smooth roll you have been looking for!!
Give it a try… I think you will see some positive results – Best of luck!