There is probably a greater variety of putting styles than with any other golf stroke. Most golf instructors will probably tell you that the putting stroke that consistently gets the ball in the hole is the right one for that golfer. So when I hear that the feet MUST be parallel with the putting line, I think that kind of coaching is quite narrow-minded indeed. Jack Nicklaus used the open putting stance and I’d say it worked okay for him.
Recently I’ve gone with the open stance for short putts (within about ten feet), and so far I’ve had great results. With the open stance I can keep my head behind the ball, therefore allowing me to see the line much better without moving my head. For these short putts I can see the line all the way to the hole, and it is only a matter of stroking the ball on that line. For longer putts I don’t get those same advantages.
For this putting stroke to work, however, certain things have to happen.
1. You must use the pendulum stroke. This is a stroke where the putter face stays square to the ball throughout the entire stroke. I don’t think it’s possible to putt consistently if the putter face leaves the square position at any time. Sooner or later on some putt, perhaps an important one, you won’t get the face in proper position and either push or pull that three-footer. And nothing kills your confidence quicker than when you do that.
2. Tuck the back elbow. With the open stance you can stabilize the right elbow against the body. This stability takes away one more possible thing that can go wrong; that is, the more of your body that you can keep planted and solid the less that can go wrong during the putting stroke.
3. Lead with the front hand. One of the problems I’ve had with the open stance that I had to correct is “popping” the ball. Because the ball is naturally going to be forward, the putter will have a tendency to get under the ball and lift it off the surface, definitely something that will throw the putt off line. By leading with the left or lead hand I am better able to keep the putter from rising through the ball.
This style certainly goes against what many consider unbending golf fundamentals. But if you can consistently make what I think are the necessary adjustments to make this style work, you may find the advantages that I have found will help you sink those short putts, the ones you should be sinking.