Putting is definitely the most individual element of the game.
You only need to look at the guys on tour right now to realise that there are many different ways to be a successful putter - but there are definitely blueprints, or keys, that you can adapt to your own technique that will go a long way to getting genuine success with the putter.
The ball being forward of centre allows it to be struck slightly on the upswing. What you’re trying to do is get the ball off on the right line. You’re not going to completely reduce skid (that point where the ball bounces immediately after impact) for this part of the shot - but you are trying to reduce skid dramatically.
The ball being slightly forward and you hitting slightly on the up is going to help get that slightly truer roll. The ball is, therefore, likely to start online, allowing you to gauge distances better.
My ‘eyes’ theory
Should your eyes be exactly over the ball at address? It can vary depending on your stroke.
For me, I like to see the eyes over the ball as I think it gives you a better read and a better perception of how the clubhead is tracking. You tend not to see people with their eyes beyond the ball, but you do get a few with their eyes inside it.
There are obviously different types of putting strokes. Some people are square-to-square, where the putterhead is straight back and straight through. They tend to have their eyes very much over the ball so they can see that straight line.
People that tend to be a little bit more curved, in-to-square-to-in, they sometimes have their eyes a little bit more on the inside. It’s less of an issue for them as they are seeing the putterhead work on that curve.
I like to see eyes over the ball. To me, it just gives you a much better perception of the putt.
2. Stand tall
Too many guys don’t use their physique. When you’re putting, you should try and stand tall, and get your chin up a little bit. If you’re hunched over, you are not allowing your arms to hang naturally.
In the set-up, your ball has gone forward, with the weight slightly on your front foot as an anchor point, as you want that stability. But what you want to do is get your arms to hang naturally. This encourages you to get your shoulders to rock, rather than getting the hands engaged too much, which tends to manipulate the putterface.
You want your shoulders to rock without having to work too hard in the stroke. The chin is off the chest, even though your eyes are over the ball.
3. Palm it
I’m a big advocate of the grip in left hand getting quite high up into the fleshy part, almost into the lifeline. You’ll tend to see tour players do that. They tend to have quite a high left wrist at address.
Now, if the hands get active, the putterface will break down online. This means that if you flick at the putt, it’s still going to start on target. The putterface can be affected hugely by the smallest of margins. If it sits more in the fingers than in the fleshy part of the hand, that allows more manipulation. You don’t want that.
With putting, you want minimum movement. So, even if it breaks down, it breaks down online, giving you more confidence and consistency.
4. Get aligned
What you’re looking for is to try and make sure your feet, knees, hips and shoulders are all aligned. If you want the ball to start online, everything needs to be online.
Most guys will just get their feet and knees aligned nice and square and go from there - but, depending on where they’ve got their hands and shoulders, it’s not a consistent stroke. Your feet, knees, shoulders and arms have got to run parallel.