The "arcing" stroke is an urban myth. The main putting guru associated with this stroke -- Stan Utley -- taught the arcing stroke in his 2006 book The Art of Putting: The Revolutionary Feel-Based System for Improving Your Score, supposedly describing his personal stroke that he had been using 30 years since his college days in 1974. In his book, Stan said he rotated his chest and shoulders horizontally back and thru while also rolling his forearms and hands "open" (rear hand supinating) in the backstroke and rolling closed (lead hand supinating) in the thru-stroke. But Stan learned afterwards that he had MIS-DESCRIBED his personal stroke action when he wrote the book. In about 2008, having taught the stroke motion he wrote in the book for two years, Stan was filmed by a golf teacher in Chicago who had invited him to lecture, and then showed Stan that his stroke motion was not turning the shoulders back and thru or rotating his forearms open and then closed. Stan was then puzzled for another year or so trying to find out and accurately describe what he actually had been doing for 30+ years. And he ADMITTED in future lectures that his book was incorrect, and did NOT describe his stroke, but he still sells it. In fact, as he later learned in about 2009 or 2010 by asking another golf teacher to tell him what he did with his body for his stroke, Stan learned that he personally swings his arms straight back and straight thru, with his motion on a plane that is slightly tilted off vertical. Once he had his personal stroke explained to him, he changed to teaching a straight-back, straight-thru action on a tilted plane. he solidified this new teaching by holding a shaft inside the upper arms of students to make them swing straight back and thru along the shaft, and also by making a training aid he named (ironically?) the "Learning Curve", which in fact is simply a plank leaning back on a tilt for golfers to slide the putter head straight-back and straight-thru on a tilted plane.
The "Putting Arc" training aid is similarly delusional. The shape of the front vertical face of the Putting Arc is a curve or bulge, and the golfer supposedly traces this shape with the putter head by making an "arcing" stroke. Marks on the flat top of the aid show the putter face supposed to be "open" in the backstroke and then on the corresponding place in the forward stroke the putter face mark shows the face to be "closed". None of this is an accurate portrayal of the motion that traces the Putting Arc.
THAT motion is traced by a robot selling the Putting Arc named "Iron Archie", and Archie can ONLY move straight back and straight thru, either in a vertical plane or on a tilted plane of some angle of tilt. The "Putting Arc" is ACTUALLY traced by moving straight back and straight thru on a tilted plane that is tilted 14 degrees off vertical. The "neck pole" of Iron Archie is set by tilting it up 14 degrees from horizontal (parallel to floor or green surface) , and then the arm assembly is stuck onto this neck pole inserted thru a hole in the arm assembly halfway between the "shoulders", and the whole arm assembly swings straight back and straight thru on this tilted neck pole.
The putter head then in the backstroke both rises and comes up to the inside closer to the golfer on the tilted plane, and then symmetrically does the opposite in the forward stroke. The putter heel contacting the Putting Arc vertical face at the mid-point of the stroke is X inches from the golfer's feet, but the top of the backstroke has the putter heel higher and closer to the golfer up the tilted plank, and the forward stroke on the opposite side similarly has the putter heel high and closer to the feet. Between these three key locations -- top of vertical face at front left top of follow-thru, midpoint bottom of face at address position, and top of vertical face at top right of backstroke -- define the "bulge", but the tracing of the bulge is not done with an arcing stroke. The result LOOKS like an arc, but only if you watch the SHADOW of the sweetspot of the putter head in this motion, projected vertically down to the surface. The SURFACE SHADOW truly IS an ARC, but not the motion that makes it. That motion is straight back and straight thru on a tilt, and the putter face does NOT "open" in the backstroke and "close" in the thru-stroke, but remains square to the plank at all times.
This REALITY of the Putting Arc motion is revealed by the robot, but is also revealed by using an imaginary cheese cutter to shave off the front bulge: on the flat top of the Putting Arc, align the cheese slicer from the font-most corners of the bulge and aim the cutting sheet at the mid-point of the bulge on the bottom of the bulge -- then shave all the bulge off. What remains is a flat plank leaned back on a 14 degree angle. THAT is the shape traced by the robot and the shape that any golfer practicing on the Putting Arc should make to trace the shape. But that's not what they are selling, is it?
The basic NOTION among golfers that the body naturally swings on a circle is just that, a "notion". In fact, the full swing does not swing on a circle, although the upper torso and hips turn back and turn thru. The full swing motion is a flat plane on a tilt. A "circle" would swing the club head around the feet in a circle on the ground. And in any event, this has nothing to do with a putting stroke, when the upper torso does not rotate and the hips don't rotate either.
And yet, golfers will still "believe" the arms swing in a circle in a putting stroke, or at least swing in an arcing around the body, back and thru. OK, first face the fact that golfers never really think too much about anything …. What actually happens when a golfer bends forward, putts two hands together, and swings the arms, is that the arms and hands swing pretty straight wherever the golfer starts them in a backstroke. For example, if you setup a foot or so away from a doorknob and aim the shoulders and chest parallel to the path from the hands to the doorknob, and then start the hands straight back and slightly up, the hands will move straight and hit the doorknob, no problem. The hands do NOT "naturally" arc to the inside in a backstroke. What moves the hands to the inside in the backstroke is the GOLFER, either twisting the shoulders and chest and upper torso, or rolling the forearms top-over to the right in a right-handed backstroke, or even deliberately MOVING the hands along an arcing path to the inside, or a combination of these -- NONE of which are "natural" and NONE of which happen is a golfer simply starts the hands straight back and does nothing else or moves the hands straight back on purpose.
When the golfer does not "manufacture" an arc by moving his shoulders, or arms, or hands in a rotational arcing, the "natural" stroke can still appear to arc in the backstroke. What makes the backstroke "appear" to arc naturally is a combination of too-flat putter lies and weak muscle tone in the golfer. Unfortunately, both these factors are everywhere common in golf. The too-flat lie means there is an unnecessary "torque" weight on the putter head that, once the backstroke is in the air, presses the putter head and shaft inward toward the golfers feet, seeking equilibrium in gravity. That's ok UNLESS the golfer's muscle tone in the hands and arms is too weak to support this stroke-corrupting torque, and sadly that is exactly what golfers learn from bad teaching -- use as "light" a grip pressure as possible. Completely nuts. So, yes, putters being started back with light grip pressure will droop inward towards the feet as they rise in the backstroke, and this "looks like" the beginning of an arc-to-arc stroke. Sadly, golfers, seem completely ignorant about cause and effect, because while it is true the putter head "falls down" from torque in the backstroke, it certainly does NOT "fall back up" in the forward stroke. And yet golfers believe that an arc-to-arc stroke happens by itself! Completely stupid and delusional. NOTHING falls back up, and moreover, even if the putter "re-arced" itself in the forward stroke, who really thinks it will do so "just right" so the backstroke and thru-stroke exactly match for shape? The answer seems to be, sadly, almost all golfers! Enough, really.
And going forward, there again is NO ARCING that naturally happens in a putting stroke. What happens naturally is that that hands from the top of the backstroke swing straight down in gravity beneath the center of the neck and mid-point of the shoulders, and gain swinging momentum towards the target, and in Newtonian physics, the swinging GOES STRAIGHT. Nothing affects this straightness of swing between the feet except a golfer making the stroke PULL offline to arc to the inside. Eventually, of course, the up-swinging arms will reach an extent in the thru-swing where the arms droop inwardly back towards the feet. But there is no arcing between the feet, where the stroke occurs. But if a golfer WANTS an arc-to-arc stroke pattern, he cannot get one naturally between the feet, so what does he do to manufacture a shape? He "releases the putter", which is silly-talk for "he "closes" the face of the putter thru impact. This also does not happen thru impact "naturally", but must be practiced for hours and hours to try to manufacture the same closing rotational rate thru impact. And even if the golfer can actually DO THIS, it doesn't work too well under pressure, is not consistent, and also makes ball position, setup, stroke, and stroke timing consistency far too critically important. None of this nonsense is necessary.
Nor is it true that great putters USE an arcing stroke. Ben Crenshaw putts DEAD STRAIGHT thru impact, as seen in any photo of his finishes, where the putter sweetspot remains dead vertically above the aim line at address, and the putter face remains dead square to the aim line, and his lead shoulder does NOT twist of rotate to the inside but instead moves straight vertically up from its starting position at address vertically above the balls of his lead foot. Bobby Locke similarly drew his putter diagonally inside in the backstroke and retraced this diagonal line forward back to impact -- using a shoulder rotation for these beginning segments of his stroke -- BUT THEN thru impact he putted UP and STRAIGHT thru impact. Stan Utley also does not use an arcing motion, as he found out after writing incorrectly in his 2006 book that he BOTH twisted his shoulders horizontally in the back and thru (without ANY vertical component in his shoulder motion) and also rolled his forearms open in the backstroke and closed in the thru-stroke. He didn't in fact do this, as he subsequently found out. And so on.
Nor is the arcing stroke a good idea. OK, so you decide to make a faux-arcing stroke by moving straight-back and straight-thru on a tilted plane. Is that a good idea? No. Great golfers, including Crenshaw, Locke, Utley, Roberts, Stricker, and many others, putt STRAIGHT thru impact with a square face moving straight down the aim line, slightly rising vertically off the surface. That is, the backstroke is IRRELEVANT, and only the forward stroke matters. A "good" backstroke simply doesn't make the forward stroke unnecessarily difficult. But the backstroke does NOT have to be mirrored by the forward stroke. THIS "good" stroke straight thru does NOT happen when a golfer putts on a tilted plane.
What happens on a tilted plane is, first, the sweetspot moves "straight" in the sense that it stays on line with the line where the tilted plank meets the flat surface of the green -- a laser aimed the same angle as the tilt angle of the stroke will "trace" this straight line of intersection on the ground. Second, the putter face stays square to the tilted plane, and does not open or close. Third, the entire putter head rises and comes closer to the golfer in the backstroke and then past the bottom in the forward stroke again rises and comes closer to the golfer. Fourth, as the putter rises in the backstroke, the "aim" of the lofted putter face "de-lofts" and aims a bit down -- and a laser aiming 90 degrees off the center of the putter face will aim to the OUTSIDE of the intersection line or aim line, and in the forward stroke as the putter face rises, the face laser aims to the INSIDE of the aim line.
So altogether, this faux-arcing stroke has only one exact spot where the putter face aims where it is supposed to aim, and in any event the putter head thru impact will slide inside and rising with a bit of a cut stroke that has the putter face changing aim to the inside thru impact. No generally a good idea! The exact moment of impact -- critically dependent upon setup being always exactly the same, putter being always exactly the same, ball position being always exactly the same, stroke motion always being exactly the same for all putts long or short, and the timing of the stroke being always the same -- contrast very poorly to a "straight thru" stroke rising slightly vertically and staying online with a square face: this straight-thru stroke is NOT dependent upon setup and ball position consistency or even very dependent upon timing consistency, as the straight-thru stroke STAYS straight for nearly a foot so that any ball position from perfect at the bottom or mid-point of the usual stroke (beneath the neck or slightly left) to 4-6 inches in front of perfect all goes the same straight line at impact. The only critical matter is to make sure the putter face aim at impact is the same as it was at address before the stroke started.
Altogether, it is about time golfers stopped claiming the so-called "arcing" stroke is natural or athletic or instinctive. A straight-thru stroke is natural and athletic and much sounder and easier than the fake, delusional motion golfers are attempting to manufacture.
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