Radial vs Linear Putting Stroke

Today’s question is “How do you go about switching from radial to linear and what are some drills?” 

Even though this process is multi-faceted, it’s generally easier than people think.  In order to answer this question, we have to start with the assumption that radial strokes are more complicated than linear strokes.  To that end, most of the game’s greatest putters have had linear strokes. 

If you’re trying to move from a radial stroke to a linear stroke, you first have to understand that there are three types of linear strokes - short, medium, and long. 

When switching to linear putting, fitting the right putter is the first step in the process. One of the biggest issues we see is that people with linear strokes have putters that are too heavy. Excess weight results in inconsistencies with regard to pressure, lag, and face rotation in the forward stroke. 

Another factor to consider is the slot in which you putt. Slot is determined by arm length differentials.  Depending on your measurements, your slot is going to be steep or flat relative to if your arms are the same length.  If your putter doesn’t match the slot in which you putt, issues with path are going to become magnified. 

 Once you have an understanding of the biodynamics of linear putting, and you have a putter that properly fits your stroke, there are some drills that you can start doing to get more comfortable and make your stroke more repeatable. 

Putting Drill #1 -  “putting with your right arm only.”  This drill trains you to use your right arm efficiently during the linear stroke. 

Putting Drill #2 - All you have to do is lay a piece of string perpendicular to your putting line and hit putts trying stop the ball as close to the string as possible.  This drill is all about speed, which is the most important factor in putting well consistently. 

Putting Drill #3 - Lastly, a useful drill is to find a straight putt and work on starting the ball online, all the while being conscious of setting up to the putt with the right body positions. 

There’s always plenty of room for gate drills, much like you see Tiger use as he’s warming up for a round.  If you can roll the ball through your gate consistently, those short you used to dread are going to become a lot easier. 

In the end, it’s tough to argue that linear putting is much more simple and repeatable than radial putting.  Making the transition is easier than you might think but, you need a putter that fits your body type and natural tendencies.