Success on the greens depends on feeling the difference between merely stroking the ball and putting a good roll on it.
A Good Roll Starts at Address
Although the putter is nicknamed the "flatstick" because its face doesn't appear to have any loft, it actually does have three or four degrees. This slight upward angle is essential to getting the ball rolling smoothly: At impact, the ball actually is lifted slightly.
To make proper use of the loft, the hands should be even with the ball at address. If your hands move ahead of the putterhead, you'll deloft the blade. At impact, the ball will be pinched down into the turf, which can cause it to skip off line at the start.
Hit the Sweet Spot
Good roll also depends on contacting the ball with the sweet spot of the putter. Hitting the ball out toward the toe imparts "hook-spin" at the outset, causing the putt to move a little left. (Many amateurs make this error, which explains why most prefer putts that break from right-to-left.) Hitting the ball more toward the heel causes the opposite reaction: It puts a little "slice-spin" on the start of the roll so the putt moves right. Missing the sweet spot not only affects direction but distance: The ball won't roll as far as you expect if you don't make solid contact.
Putters generally are marked on top to indicate the location of the sweet spot. When you putt, turn the label on the ball so it points straight down the intended line, then concentrate on meeting the label with the sweet spot mark. A well-rolled, solidly struck putt feels as satisfying as a drive hit on the screws. More important, it usually goes where you want.
Private Lessons 1999 Times Mirror Magazines, Inc., used under license by GolfServ Online, Inc. Instructional information provided by Golf Magazine.