Think about the slowly swinging pendulum on a grandfather clock. Wouldn’t that make a great putting stroke?
As a matter of fact, it would. And does. The so-called “pendulum stroke,” aka the “arc stroke,” has been the ideal of teachers and students for decades.
In the basic pendulum-style stroke, the golfer’s hands, arms and shoulders work as a single unit, pulling the putter back and swinging it through in one harmonious motion. A pure pendulum stroke finds the butt of the grip pointing at precisely the same spot (i.e. the belly button) from address to finish. This action moves the putter head on a gentle “inside-square-inside” arc – inside the target line going back, returning to square at impact, and back inside on the follow-through.
(Note: The belly putter is designed to promote a flawless pendulum stroke, though “anchoring” putter to body will be illegal come January 1, 2016.)
The benefits of such a stroke are obvious. A perfect pendulum stroke is uniform in pace and path, from start to finish, and hits the ball squarely every time. Of course, no human is capable of making perfect stroke after perfect stroke – but that shouldn’t discourage you from adopting this method.
Developing a consistent arms-and-shoulders motion is the key. However, not every arms-and-shoulders stroke follows a pendulum path. To reiterate, the end of the grip must constantly point at a fixed point directly in line with the ball to be considered a classic pendulum stroke.
The other popular putting style is called the “straight-back-straight-through” (SBST) method, exemplified by PGA Tour star Steve Stricker. While it’s an arms-and-shoulders stroke, too, the path is directly back and through the ball along the target line.