Peter Sokolov Golf

To Rotate, Or Not To Rotate - That Is The Question

Peter SokolovComment

Hope everyone is having a great spring and that their golf season is warming up with the weather. It's been a very busy March and start of April here in South Florida... 

I recently posted a tip on Twitter regarding putter face rotation:

The average amateur rotates their putter 45 degrees on a 20 foot putt (left). Reduced rotation = more makes

Over the past twenty years that I have been coaching golf, putter path and rotation has been one of the most discussed topics in putting. For 15 years I was a senior instructor at one of the top 3 golf schools in the world. This school happened to specialize in short game and putting. It seems as if every time there is a discussion about the path and face angle of the putter there are two major schools of thought:

  1. Keep the putter square back and through (right picture)
  2. Allow the putter to arc around your body, similar to a full swing (left picture)

Yes I know as of late there are even more:

  1. Take it back square and rotate it through
  2. Take it back open and then square through

Really? Anyone else have an opinion? How about the figure 8 stroke? Anybody?

People get caught up in theory that once again they forget about playing golf and optimizing their real world percentages. They live in some theoretical world of absolutes missing the reality of what occurs on the green. In the last few weeks when spending time with amateur golfers, I had them roll some twenty foot putts. I asked them if they try to keep their putter generally straight during their strokes. Guess what they said? I received answers like "yes", "of course I do", "I try to." That's where it begins to get interesting. 

Upon measuring those golfers on twenty foot putts as they held their finishes, I noted that amateur golfers rotate their putters on average 45 degrees on their follow through offline (Left Picture Above). Keep in mind that these are the same golfers that just told me they were trying to keep their putters straight. In their minds they thought their finishes looked closer to the above picture on the right. 

Now take a look at a few tour players on putts that are around 20 feet. Look at their putter faces. I would say they are all "pretty square." They certainly are not rotated 45 degrees. That is where reality kicks in. There is probably no one on tour that I am aware of that has a perfectly square stroke. Yes, there are a few that are pretty close. It is, however, safe to say there are none with excessive body turn and face angles that are 45 degrees off line on a make-able putt. Would you bet that the average tour player is closer to zero degrees of rotation or 45 degrees of rotation at twenty feet?

Too easy right?

The first thing I would tell you is to measure your stroke on an actual 20 foot putt with your video camera on your phone. It would just take a minute to video yourself putting down the line. Look at where your putter is pointed on the finish. If it's more than a few degrees offline, do some drills using an alignment rod, yard stick, or string. Now here is the trick. When you practice it's my experience that you want to try to learn a stroke that is as square as possible. Try to keep the putter directly over the stick when your practicing. Odds are you will never fully internalize that motion. But if you ended up close you would be right where you desire to be. With no rotation or minimal rotation. 

Practice your stroke over an alignment rod

Practice your stroke over an alignment rod

The game is all about optimizing your percentages. If you want to make a few more putts, get your putter to match the line of play keeping any rotation minimal. If your putter closely matches your intended line you have a good chance of eliminating some inconsistencies that others fight.

I'm no billiard pro... but I do know this cue is going to track straight through impact.

I'm no billiard pro... but I do know this cue is going to track straight through impact.

Here's your last example. Imagine your learning to play billiards. Your having a hard time impacting the cue ball solidly and having a hard time sending it down your intended line. Your coach tells you to start rotating the cue open and closed with your arms and shoulders saying it's natural. Really?  Enough Said.

Keep it Simple...

Your Coach For Life... Score Your Best!

Peter Sokolov