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Cut Stroke

A Cut Stroke is an off-plane

putting path.


The ideal putting stroke stays on plane. While your putter path is less important than your putterface angle, it can still adversely influence the direction of your putt.

Out to In

Illustration Cut StrokeIllustration Pelz Putting Bible
17% Ratio of Influence

A Cut Stroke is where your putter path travels from outside your aimline (target line) to inside your aimline. In other words your putter swings off plane and cuts across your aimline.

The question is:

WHY does this matter as long as your putterface is perpendicular to your aimline when your putter meets the ball?

Direction of Ball

Research and Testing has shown that there are two fundamental alignments that influence the direction your ball travels after you make contact with it.

The first is your putterface angle and the second is your putter path. Rik DeGunther in his book The Art and Science of Putting calculates that the ratio of influence is around 15% putter path and 85% angle of impact.

Putter Path

Your putter path therefore plays a small, yet significant, part in the accuracy of your putts as any error in path is transmitted to the roll of your ball. David Leadbetter estimates that three out of four recreational golfers slice not only their full-swing shots, they slice their putts as well.

Quintic Ball Roll SoftwareQuintic Ball Roll Software

The ideal putter path imparts zero side-spin to your ball as side-spin has a negative effect on how soon your ball achieves true roll.

However, it is possible, but not desirable, to get your ball to travel more or less along your aimline with an outside-to-in putter path and a slightly open face on contact.

Early Wrist Putting

Early instructional texts on putting mention little or nothing about putter paths as the topic was largely irrelevant. Golfers putted with their wrists. There was no movement of their arms and shoulders.

With golfers using a pendulum motion as a more reliable way to putt on smoother and faster greens, the problem of the putter wandering all over the place is a real possibility. Therefore to manage your putting stroke, you need to pay careful attention to setting up correctly at address and staying connected until the ball is on its way.

Causes of Cut Stroke

Here are some reasons why your putter path can follow an errant outside-to-in direction that produces a cut stroke.

  • If your shoulders are open at address rather than parallel to your aimline, your putter path will tend to work along your shoulder line. This will cause you to cut across your ball similar to a slice in the full-swing.

  • If your right elbow is spread too wide and not snug against your rib cage, you will have difficulty in controlling the movement of your putter going back, and then forward into the ball.

  • If you set up too near to your ball, your arms will move away from your body to the outside on your backstroke as you lift your putter. A useful technique to find the correct distance from your ball is to hover your putter before grounding it so that your arms find their natural hanging position.

While you want to avoid a cut stroke that slices across your aimline, you should steer clear of another bad habit of watching the movement of your putter.

Be confident that with good alignment, a correct ball position, and a stroke that moves your shoulders, arms and hands in unison, your putter path will stay on plane, and not cut across your aimline.

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Image Source
1 = Illustration from Dave Pelz's Putting Bible
2 = www.quintic.com

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