An 'open' stance refers to the direction in which the golfer aims his or her feet.
For right handed golfers a straight or 'square' stance points directly at the target, a 'closed' stance is where the feet of the golfer point to the right of the target and an 'open stance' is where the feet of the golfer point to the left of the target. The opposite is true for left handed golfers.
An open putting stance therefore, is where the golfer aims the feet purposefully to the left of the target. Aim is one of the most important things in successful putting and so the question that needs to be asked is: how is it possible that aiming to the left could help a golfer on longer putts?
Firstly, a long putt can be defined as one that is at least 40 feet (15 steps) away from the hole, and longer.
When we are hitting a shot of this distance, the swing of the putter backwards and forwards will be fairly long as club head speed needs to be increased to propel the ball such a distance. If we think of how the body works to create club head speed on a normal shot, we think of rotation, particularly in the hips and the trunk. These areas of the body turn hard and early during the swing and pull the shoulders, arms and club through the impact area of the ball. This is no different when swinging a putter to hit the ball a long distance on the greens.
The hips and legs do not move during a putting stroke and so if we set up to a long putt aiming 'square', or straight, at our target the shoulders, arms and putter get trapped as the putter head comes through which can cause the putter to slow down and be pulled off line as there is nowhere for it to go.
Opening the stance to begin with sets the hips and legs out of the way and provides a path for the putter to travel down the line to the target unimpeded, letting it swing freely and accelerate through the ball.
To practice an open putting stance follow these points:
- set up to a 40 foot putt with five or six golf balls.
- read the putt, pick your line and make sure to pick a spot on your line three feet in front of the ball. This is important as you need a reference point to roll the ball over because you are not going to be aiming your body at the target.
- set up square to your line and reference point.
- before you putt step back approximately three inches with your left foot and align your hips with your feet.
- hit the putt
In opening your putting stance you should feel that there is more freedom to swing out to the target on a long putt which will, in turn, help you to get the ball closer to the hole more consistently.