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Upright Arm Lock Putting Explained

Honu putters can be set up for many different putting styles, including conventional, arm-lock, upright arm-lock and side-saddle.  For best results, the putter geometry must be adapted to the particular style and the individual golfer.  That involves setting the angle where the shaft goes into the putter head, getting the shaft length right, and choosing a suitable grip.

 

This page explains how to do  upright arm-lock putting, an alternative putting style that has some nice advantages:

  • Eliminates stress on the back, hips, and legs.  That helps you putt better, especially when you are tired at the end of a round, and lets you practice longer without getting sore.

  • Puts your eyes in a better position to see the target.  That makes for better aim and reduces the tendency to "look up".

  • Eliminates the tendency to use your wrists. That keeps the putter square so you make more short putts.

 

It's not for everyone.  If you are already a good putter using a different style, you should probably stick with the style that you have trained.​ If you're just learning, or are having putting problems, I recommend it.

This video shows the main points from a front viewpoint.

 

Notice the following aspects of the style:

  • The golfer is standing up very straight, with little hip bend.  It's quite comfortable

  • The stance is "open" in the sense that the left foot is farther from the target line than the right foot.

  • The feet are close together.

  • The ball is close to the right foot (this will be emphasized below)

  • The shaft and grip are much longer than on a conventional putter (the shaft angle has to be different too)

  • The shaft and grip rest on the inside of the left forearm.

  • The stroke is made by rocking the shoulders.  The shoulders, arms, wrists, and putter move as a single unit, with no independent motion of the forearms and wrists.

The video shows "right hand low" setup, where the right hand is closer to the ground than the left. You can also do "left hand low" and "claw" setups with upright arm-lock style, but I think that right-low is better for this style.  The purpose of left-low and claw is to keep the putter head straight so it doesn't wobble. With upright arm-lock, especially with an ultra-stable Honu putter, you don't need any help to keep it straight. Right low is more comfortable and puts your shoulders in a better position for seeing the target.

Most people have some trouble getting used to just how close your right foot should be to the ball in this style.  Here are some pictures showing where the ball should be.

Your eyes should be directly over the ball.  That's why the ball needs to be so close to your right foot, because when you stand upright, you aren't leaning over much.  You can check your ball position by dangling the Honu putter under your eye and sighting down to the ball.  Honu putter shafts hang straight down because of the way they are balanced (most other putter shafts hang at an angle).

The reason why your stance should be open has to do with the geometry of the putter and the way people's shoulders tilt.  With this geometry, when your stance is a little open, the club path will be directly along the target line at the bottom of the stroke. And in this position, it is easier to see the target line too.