Greetings fellow golfers.
Our question this week comes from Damon in Lake Forest Park, and it involves putting. He would like to get a clarification on the difference between two putting styles: swinging gate and square to square.
It is best to start with basic definitions. The swinging gate method is when the putter face opens and closes during the stroke. On the backswing the putter will gradually open as the length of stroke increases. As the putter is swung through impact to the finish position, the putter will gradually close with the putter face being mostly square to the target line at impact.
This method very closely resembles a full swing where the club face opens on the backswing and closes as the club is swung through impact.
The square to square method is just like it sounds. This method requires the putter face to be square to the target line at every point of the swing no matter the length.
Obviously there are advantages and disadvantages to both. The advantage to the swinging gate method is that it is more of a natural motion. As you rotate your body to swing the putter, it will naturally want to open on the backswing and then close on the through swing.
The disadvantage is that the ball position in the swing arc has to be the same for every stroke. If the ball position changes even a small amount, it can throw off a putt enough to miss. The advantage using the square to square is that no matter what ball position is being used the putt will always start on line.
The disadvantage is that in order to keep the putter face square throughout the swing, the club must be manipulated by the hands. The only other way to keep the putter face square throughout is to address the putt with your back parallel to the ground.
This way the putter will swing back and through and will always be square to the target line. Unfortunately this is a very uncomfortable position and one that is often impractical.
Is one better than the other?
Both methods are fine to use with player preference being the determining factor. Another factor to consider is what type of putter to use.
The choice is between those that are face balanced and those that are not. Face balanced putters are those that have the weight evenly distributed from heel to toe of the putter.
To determine if a putter is face balanced, rest it on your index finger about 6 inches up the shaft from the head. If the putter face is horizontal, then the putter is face balanced.
Because of this balance, this type of putter should be used by players using the square to square method. The face balance helps keep the putter square throughout the stroke.
Conversely, putters that are not face balanced should be used by those players using the swinging gate. The unbalanced putter head encourages a stroke where the face opens and closes.
An example of a face balanced putter is the Odyssey 2 ball and an example of a non-face balanced putter is the Ping Anser. Try both and see which works for you.
Tyrone Hardy is co-owner of Hardy Golf LLC. and Director of Golf at Ballinger Lake GC. For more information see www.ballingerlakegolf.com.