The Relationship of the Shoulder Plane & Putter Path

In my analysis, I point out the many similarities in most elite putters, including: balanced, symmetrical, centered stance, level shoulders, formation of the “Y”, square putter face, etc. The striking difference in the three subjects is the angle of the spine and where they direct their shoulder plane. There is a direct relationship between the shoulder plane and the shape, or amount of rotation in the putter path.

On one extreme, TW is very upright, his shoulder plane is directed well above the ball, and his putter path is very round with significant rotation. Furyk, on the other hand, is the extreme opposite. His spine angle is much flatter, his shoulder plane is aligned with the golf ball, and the path of his putter is smoother, with less rotation. Luke Donald was somewhere in-between.

I have a putting robot that allows me to adjust the “shoulder plane” to the golf ball. I positioned a pencil and plotted the path of the putter. With the shoulder plane directed at the golf ball, the putter was approximately 1/2″ inside the putt line at 6″ back. Raising the shoulder plane a few degrees above the golf ball created significant rotation of the putter path. At 6″ back, the putter was over 1″ inside the putt line. Obviously, both strokes returned the putter face to square at the bottom of the arc. There is just a little more margin of error in the smoother path.

So, here is my message…

If you, or your students, are trying to smooth out their putter path, and reduce the amount of putter face rotation by using a rail, arc board, string, or any other tracing aid, they may be creating a disconnect between their hands and shoulders. To impact the path, it’s best to start with the shoulder plane. Have your student direct their shoulder motion towards the golf ball. You can do this by having them flatten their spine angle, or move the shoulders in a more upwards/downwards motion.

The crossbar of the Putting T-Bar serves as an excellent visual guide to indicate the shoulder plane.

Practice does not make Perfect. Perfect Practice makes Perfect!

NOTE: Instructor DAN HANSEN is a believer, and uses the T-Bar to teach putting. See him to sample his model of this revolutionary putting training aid!

All the best.

Rick Wright