Where should the ball be positioned for a belly putter?
"I'm a 10 handicapper and have just started using a belly putter and I don't know where to position the ball in my stance. Some days I putt great with the putter, other days I can't hole a thing.
I figure it's got to be something to do with my set up, because when I'm bad I'm bad in a consistent way - always missing either right or left. As far as I see it, the ball position's got to be important here, right?
Can you help me?"Answer from Will Best-Putter.com site owner:
This is one of the most important questions you can ask when it comes to using a belly putter.
The first thing you must get right is positioning the ball in the same place in your stance every time you address the ball. But there's one crucial difference to consider between putting with a regular putter and a belly putter...
With a belly putter you've got to consider the ball position in relation to the place you anchor the butt end of the putter into your belly, rather than relative to your feet.
So my answer to you briefly, Bob, is that you've got to have the ball positioned so that you strike it when the shaft is precisely vertical when looking at the player front on - when it's absolutely at the bottom of its arc.
The reason is that a belly putter will always swing on an arc because you've got the butt end of the club anchored in a fixed position in your stomach which is not directly above the putter head. The putter
head will open and close and its path will move off line on the way back and through. The face will always be square to the path of the stroke, but not always to the target line.
There's nothing wrong with that, but if you address the ball in an inconsistent position, your putterface will be either too open if you have the ball further back in your stance or too closed, if you're striking the ball too far forward in your stance.
Beyond that you've got to consider the angle the putter is traveling on when it strikes the ball. Are you hitting down on the ball, is the putter moving level to the ground or are you stroking it with an upward blow?
Although many people say the ideal strike to promote a good role is slightly upward, be wary of this with a belly putter. This is because in order to get an upward strike the putter must be past the bottom of its arc and with the end of the putter fixed in your belly, that'll mean that you'll also be closing the face.
The ideal position to have the ball therefore is directly below the point at which you anchor the butt end of the club into your belly
If you feel you align your putts best with the ball forward in your stance (as most people do), then you've got to move the butt end of the club to forward too (to the left of your navel if you're right handed).
Good luck, Bob. Please pop back and let us know how you get on with those changes!