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Your Right Elbow may be more important

in putting than you think.


Preventing your putter from wandering during your stroke can be a problem. Turning your right elbow inwards against your hip can stabilise your putter path.

Part of the skill in holing putts is the ability to make a smooth and effortless stroke. For many golfers this is difficult to do. This is because try as they may, their backstroke tends to wander off-line as if it has a mind of its own.

Anchoring for Stability

One way to cure this erratic path was to create an anchor that stabilised your putter as it swung back. Enter the belly putter and the long putter.

Niclas Fasth

Niclas Fasth

By fitting the butt of your extended putter into your stomach, or holding it against your chest in the case of the long putter, you created an anchor point.

There was much debate as to whether this action flew in the face of what is considered to be the essence of the game of golf.

By allowing a prop you have somewhat reduced the skill level required in putting. 

Note: From January 2016 anchoring your putter against your body was banned. However, it is legal to press the putter shaft against the inside of your forearm. This is known as the arm lock method.

Position of Right Elbow

However, there is another way to control the passage of your backstroke without resorting to a belly or long putter. It is the position of your elbow in your trailing arm.

It can anchor your backstroke in much the same way as affixing the butt of your putter against your body. By turning it inwards so that it rests against your right hip you can stabilise your backstroke.

Carrying Angle

This is somewhat of an artificial position as the normal carrying angle of your elbows is between five and 15 degrees away from your side.

If your elbows didn't hang this way, your swinging forearms would constantly bang into your body during walking.

In a relaxed setup with the correct length of putter for your build, your arms will hang with a small bend as you tilt forwards from your hips.

When you take hold of the putter your elbows will also have a slight outward turn. The trick now is to turn your right inwards so that it kisses your right hip.

Opinion differs as to whether it is also a good idea to turn your left elbow inwards.

Some writers argue that you need some separation on your left side, others say it is more important for a straight stroke to turn your left elbow inwards than your right.

My view is that to correct a faulty putter path, particularly during the backstroke, anchoring your right elbow under light tension against your right side helps to stabilise the movement backwards.


You can practise this feeling by holding a glove in place under your right armpit.

If you suffer from the problem of a wandering putter there are a couple of remedies that you can try:

  • Hold or float your putter lightly above the grass so that your arms find their natural hanging position as they support the weight of your putter. This makes it easier to move your putter away smoothly.
  • Rest your elbows next to your sides and then turn your right elbow inwards so that it butts up against your right hip.

There is no absolute right or wrong way to position your elbows at setup. The ideal is to keep them soft and free of tension as possible. However, you should experiment with the placement of your elbows, especially your right, if you find it difficult to prevent your backstroke from wandering.

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Related Topics

belly putter

correct lenght of putter

putter path