Everything you’ve been told is wrong. Well, not really. But it’s amazing how often this statement is true. For example, many golfers have long been told to go slow on their backswing, yet PutterZone.com recently reviewed a groundbreaking book, Tour Tempo, that demonstrates the folly of this advice. Today, we review a putting product, The Putting Arc, that similarly aims to raise your game by debunking conventional wisdom, especially if you’re a graduate of the “straight back and through” school of putting.
According to the makers of The Putting Arc, “The modern putting stroke of the successful touring pro is the inside-to-inside or arc type stroke. This is the stroke used by 95 percent of successful touring pros, and taught by the top putting instructors in the country. However, 95 percent of amateurs still try to putt straight back and straight through.”
So why do amateurs try so hard to putt straight back and straight through? Well, because that’s what we’ve been told to do. Now, it’s no big secret that most tour players employ a slightly arcing stroke, but many recreational golfers either haven’t gotten the memo or have actually been advised that such a stroke is beyond their consistent capability. Yet even if you’ve gotten the memo and reject the notion that you shouldn’t aspire to putt like a pro, where do you begin? What is the nature of the arc, and how can you master it? That’s where The Putting Arc can help.
The Putting Arc comes in three models: (1) the lightweight T3 ($35) for outdoor use only; (2) the medium-sized hard plastic MSIII ($69) for indoor and outdoor use; and (3) the elegant hardwood Deluxe model ($89), pictured here. The following descriptions and review pertain specifically to the latter two models (I haven’t used the T3), which both come with short video CDs and instruction manuals that explain the basic theory and methods of The Putting Arc, as well as key drills.
Features and Benefits
The Putting Arc is essentially a static piece of plastic or wood that is strategically shaped to guide a putter along the preferred arc of a winning putting stroke. You simply place it on the ground and set up with the heel of your putter against the center of the arc. You then conduct your stroke while keeping the heel flush with the arc. The company provides considerable information about the physics, geometry and logic of the preferred arc, and I don’t have the space here to get into all of it. Let’s just say they make a strong case. The company also claims that The Putting Arc has been used by more than 600 professional golfers who have racked up more than 330 wins.
The beauty of The Putting Arc is that it doesn’t merely guide your swing along the preferred arc, but also measures the squareness of the putter face relative to crucial points in the arc. In other words, putting along the arc is only half of the battle—the other half consists of ensuring that the putter face is square to its path and thus square upon impact. Therefore, The Putting Arc features four radial sightlines (two right of the center mark, two left of the center mark) that correspond to the ideal putter face position at different stages in the stroke. This is my favorite feature. Following the arc initially seemed simple until I saw that a strong left hand was forcing my putter face to open too far during the backswing. It was a subtle but significant flaw, one that I likely wouldn’t have discerned without the precision guidance of The Putting Arc.
The straight edge opposite the arc (ie: closest to your toes) is also helpful for learning to read greens. A straight line doesn’t lie, and neither does a perfect arcing stroke. Therefore, you can really calibrate the break of a green without interference from your own subconscious manipulations or compensations.
My complaints are relatively minor. The accompanying literature is a little wordy for my tastes. I’m a bullet points kind of guy, and I think most consumers are, too. But I’d certainly rather have too much information than too little. The model names such as T3 and MSIII seem a bit random, and are thus prone to consumer confusion. They would be better served by more descriptive names that speak to attributes of the model itself, as is the case with their Deluxe model, which is deluxe in both name and attributes. The smaller, lightweight, outdoor-only T3 would similarly benefit from a model name that speaks to its unique attributes. Same goes for the MSIII.
You can also purchase an instructional DVD ($29) hosted by V.J. Trolio, a teaching professional and co-inventor of The Putting Arc. It’s quite helpful and instructive, and Trolio’s teaching demeanor is wonderful, but I’m bothered by the price tag. At the very least, I think you should get a pricing break on the DVD when purchasing it in tandem with one of the core products.
Summary and Conclusion
The Putting Arc is a training aid for golfers who are truly serious about improving their putting stroke. It’s not an overnight fix, and that’s a good thing, because there’s no such thing as an overnight fix. This product is about building a lasting relationship with a proper putting stroke, and like all relationships, it takes some work. At prices ranging from $39 to $89 for the core products, and $29 for the DVD, The Putting Arc is also a bit of a financial commitment. But then again, no one said golf is cheap. Also, this is a product that can literally last a lifetime, unlike a $75 lesson from yet another instructor who will tell you to take the putter straight back and through.
If you are considering purchasing The Putting Arc, I would recommend finding the extra $20 and springing for the Deluxe model. That’s not a knock on the MSIII, it’s just that $20 is a small price to pay to upgrade from a strictly functional plastic device to a fine piece of sculpted wood that looks handsome in the house. However, if you really think you’ll be banging on your arc and using it frequently on the outdoor practice greens, then the MSIII is a good and more affordable choice.
On that note, PutterZone.com recommends The Putting Arc as a compelling training aid that can help put you on the path toward putting like a pro. Visit www.theputtingarc.com for more information.