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How to Swing the Putter
Andrew Park

One of the most remarkable things about Vijay Singh's performance last year was his putting, especially the fact that he switched back from the 'belly' putter to a conventional putter in the latter half of the season.

That's the period when he enjoyed the greater part of his fantastic year, but my guess - so long as the belly-length putter remains legal - is that we will see a lot more chopping and changing in this area, because the mechanics of the belly method actively promote the natural swinging and release of the putter.

Whether or not you decide to use a belly putter out on the course, rehearsing this belly-style exercise will quickly reacquaint you with a good stroke whenever your putting begins to go stale with a regular length blade.

Anchoring the butt-end of the putter in your middle immediately improves the 'connection' between the arms and torso; rehearsing the belly stroke is a terrific 'in-between' drill when you practise.

Anyone guilty of losing this connectivity with either a pushing of the putter-head (far left) or a flicking with the hands and wrists (near left) will find this drill beneficial. All you have to do is feed the shaft of your putter up through your hands until the butt-end is safely anchored into your midriff.

Then let your arms, hands and the putter itself swing in sync with the rotation of your middle. When you do that, the putter-face will appear to open on the way back and close on the way through. That's an illusion; in fact, it's working square to the path of your stroke throughout.

Next time you practise your putting, spend a couple of minutes rehearsing this exercise in between hitting putts. I guarantee that when you transfer those feelings of connectivity' to your regular stroke, you will notice an improvement in your ball-striking and the quality of the roll that you put on the ball. The bottom line? You will hole more putts from this critical 6- to 10- foot range and have a superior sense of distance control from further out.

When you revert to a regular stroke, the hands, arms and as a unit to create a naturally correct pendulum-type motion. With any manipulation from the hands, the putter-head is released freely and imparts a true roll on the ball.

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