Upward or Downward Strike When Putting



When should you make contact with the ball during the putting stroke? On the downstroke, upstroke, or at the bottom of the arc? Over the years I have heard all three, from some very respected teachers. What have you found to be the case?

Looking forward to your reply! Thank you.

– Bob


The  answer to your question is very important and fundamental when trying to develop a good putting stroke.

If the ball is in the correct position directly below the eyes and slightly ahead of center between your feet – this being the base line from which one can make some slight variations if necessary – then the stroke which is pivoted about a point coincident with your neck will be slightly upward.

An upward stroke on the ball is good for a few reasons: 1) it allows the ball to be lifted out of the depression in which it sits, and 2) it will result in a consistent launch.

A ball will always find a depression in which to sit on the green. Unfortunately, this depression varies in size and depth depending on the traffic, makeup and overall condition of the green. It is of utmost importance to launch the ball consistently when putting.

Using the words 'launch the ball' seems odd when talking about putting, but every putt has a small amount of backspin and leaves the putting surface for a very short period of time after impact. It is important that this launch be consistent and not dependent on the depth of the depression in which it sits. If launched too close to horizontal, the side of the depression – of varying size – will make the initial launch angle inconsistent.

Bob, if  you are making the correct swing motion, the ball is positioned correctly and you have 4 degrees of the loft on the putter, you will not only impact the ball on the up-stroke but launch it consistently.

A downward stroke may often drive the ball into the green and the side of the depression , causing inconsistent results.

– Frank 

Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf. Thomas is chief technical advisor to GolfChannel.com. He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email letsbefrank@franklygolf.com


Frank Thomas