Picture the golf course as a canvas of choices, each stroke a brushstroke towards perfection. Amid this artistic pursuit, a curious question emerges: Why doesn’t everyone embrace the intriguing world of side-saddle putting?
In a sport where innovation and improvement reign, this unorthodox technique stands as a road less traveled. The allure is there, promising heightened accuracy and alignment, yet the majority stays rooted in traditional putting stances.
Delve into the untold story of what keeps golfers clinging to the convention, navigating a landscape where comfort, skepticism, and the quest for mastery converge in a symphony of reasons.
Why Doesn’t Everyone Putt Side Saddle? -10 Reasons Explained
“Side-saddle” putting, also known as “face-on” or “croquet-style” putting, is an alternative putting technique in golf where the golfer stands perpendicular to the target line and putts the ball with a sideways stance.
While this method might seem like an attractive option due to its potential advantages, there are several reasons why not everyone chooses to putt a side-saddle.
Here are some key factors:
1. Comfort and Familiarity
Most golfers have been taught and have practiced the traditional “conventional” putting stance where they face the target line. Switching to a side-saddle technique requires a significant adjustment in stance, posture, grip, and overall mechanics.
Many golfers might find it uncomfortable and unfamiliar, making it difficult to adopt the method effectively.
2. Skill Acquisition
Switching to side-saddle putting involves a learning curve. Golfers need to develop new muscle memory, coordination, and timing to accurately strike the ball.
This process can take time, and not all golfers might be willing to invest the effort required to master a new technique, especially if they’re already proficient with conventional putting.
3. Equipment Adjustments
The side-saddle technique might require modifications to putters to accommodate the different stances and angles of attack.
Customizing equipment can be an added cost and hassle, which some golfers might prefer to avoid.
While side-saddle putting can potentially help some golfers achieve more consistent alignment, distance control, and accuracy, it doesn’t guarantee success for everyone.
Achieving a high level of consistency with any putting technique requires practice, and not all golfers might see immediate improvements by switching to side-saddle.
5. Course Conditions
The choice of putting technique can also be influenced by the type of courses a golfer frequently plays on. Some courses might have unique green contours and conditions that make conventional putting more advantageous.
Golfers might not want to limit themselves to one technique if it might not be suitable for all course conditions.
6. Psychological Factors
Golf is a mental game, and a player’s psychological comfort with their chosen technique is crucial. Golfers might have doubts or lack confidence when trying a new technique, which could negatively affect their performance. Some golfers might find it challenging to overcome these mental hurdles when adopting a side-saddle approach.
7. Social Norms and Image
Golf has its traditions and etiquette, and adopting an unconventional putting technique might draw attention and commentary from fellow players. Some golfers might feel self-conscious or prefer to stick to the mainstream technique to avoid being the center of attention.
8. Personal Preferences
Every golfer has a unique style, and what works best for one might not work as well for another. Some golfers might simply feel more comfortable, confident, and successful with conventional putting, and they might not see the need to switch to a different technique.
9. Physical Limitations
Golfers come in various shapes, sizes, and physical conditions. The side-saddle putting stance might not be suitable for individuals with certain physical limitations, such as back issues, joint problems, or mobility constraints.
The posture and stance required for side-saddle putting might exacerbate these limitations and make it uncomfortable or even painful to put in that manner.
10. Lack of Access to Coaching
Learning a new technique like side-saddle often benefits from professional coaching and guidance. However, not all golfers have access to experienced coaches who are well-versed in teaching this technique.
Without proper instruction, golfers might struggle to make the necessary adjustments and might not experience the desired benefits, leading them to stick with their current putting style instead.
Is It Legal to Putt Side Saddle in Golf?
Side-saddle putting is generally considered legal in golf, but there have been rule changes and discussions surrounding this technique.
Let’s analyze whether putting side saddle in golf is legal or not:
USGA and R&A Rules
The United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R&A) are the governing bodies responsible for setting the rules of golf worldwide.
According to the rules at that time, side-saddle putting itself was not prohibited. However, golfers using the side-saddle technique had to ensure that they didn’t anchor the putter to their body, as anchoring the club was banned by the rules.
In 2016, the USGA and R&A introduced a rule change that prohibited anchoring the club to the body while making a stroke.
This rule change aimed to eliminate the use of belly and long putters that were anchored against the body, as they were believed to provide an advantage in terms of stability and consistency.
While this rule primarily targeted anchoring the club to the chest or belly, it also raised questions about the legality of side-saddle putting.
Side-Saddle and Anchoring
Side-saddle putting doesn’t necessarily involve anchoring the club to the body in the same way that belly or long putters did.
However, there were instances where golfers using the side-saddle technique faced scrutiny over whether their putting stroke constituted anchoring.
The distinction was often based on whether the putter was pressed against the body to create a point of stability during the stroke.
The USGA and R&A did provide some clarifications about side-saddle putting in relation to the anchoring rule.
They emphasized that side-saddle putting was acceptable as long as the putter wasn’t anchored to the body and the stroke was made in accordance with the other rules of golf.
Is It Hard to Putt Side Saddle?
Putting side saddle, also known as face-on or croquet-style putting, can be challenging for many golfers, but the difficulty level varies from person to person.
Here are some factors to consider when assessing the difficulty of putting side-saddle:
Most golfers are taught and have practiced the traditional “conventional” putting technique where they face the target line. Switching to side-saddle putting requires a significant adjustment in terms of stance, grip, and mechanics.
This initial unfamiliarity can make it challenging to consistently execute a successful stroke.
Transitioning to side-saddle putting involves a learning curve. Golfers need to develop new muscle memory, coordination, and timing to accurately strike the ball from this sideways stance. It may take time and practice to become comfortable and proficient with this technique.
Side-saddle putting involves different mechanics compared to conventional putting. The golfer stands more perpendicular to the target line, which can affect alignment, stance, and how the stroke is executed. Mastering these new mechanics can be a hurdle for some golfers.
Distance control is crucial in putting, and side-saddle putting might require adjustments in how a golfer gauges and controls the distance of their putts. Getting a feel for the right amount of power and touch can be challenging when transitioning to this technique.
Achieving consistency in putting is a challenge for all golfers, regardless of the technique they use. Switching to side-saddle putting might initially lead to inconsistencies in stroke mechanics, which can affect both accuracy and distance control.
Changing a fundamental aspect of one’s golf game, such as putting technique, can introduce psychological challenges.
Golfers might doubt their abilities or struggle with confidence when trying something new. These mental hurdles can impact the effectiveness of side-saddle putting.
Like any golf skill, proficiency in side-saddle putting requires dedicated practice. Golfers who want to successfully adopt this technique need to invest time and effort into developing the necessary skills.
Ultimately, some golfers might find side-saddle putting more intuitive and comfortable, while others might struggle to adapt to it. Personal preference plays a significant role in how difficult or easy a technique feels.
Do Professional Golfers Putt Side-Saddle?
Professional golfers on major tours like the PGA Tour and European Tour primarily use the conventional putting technique rather than side-saddle putting.
While there have been instances of professional golfers experimenting with side-saddle putting, it hasn’t become a mainstream choice among elite players.
Here are a few reasons why:
Professional golfers dedicate countless hours to honing their skills and perfecting their game. Switching to a new putting technique like side-saddle would require a significant amount of time and effort to achieve the same level of consistency and performance they’ve developed with the conventional technique.
Risk and Reward
Changing putting techniques can be risky for professional golfers who rely on putting as a crucial part of their game.
If the transition doesn’t yield immediate positive results, it could negatively impact their performance in tournaments and potentially harm their career standings.
Golf is a highly mental game, and a golfer’s confidence and comfort with their chosen technique are paramount.
Professional golfers have spent years perfecting their putting stroke, and introducing a new technique might lead to mental challenges that affect their overall game.
Golf has deep-rooted traditions and etiquettes, and the conventional putting technique is a standard that most professional golfers are comfortable and familiar with.
Adopting a technique like side-saddle, which deviates significantly from the norm, might be met with resistance or skepticism from peers, fans, and sponsors.
Elite Skill Level
Professional golfers are already at an elite skill level, and their putting proficiency is often a result of years of practice and refinement. The marginal gains they might achieve from switching to a different technique might not outweigh the potential risks and uncertainties.
No, side-saddle putting might work well for some golfers due to its alignment benefits, but not everyone’s stroke mechanics or preferences align with this technique.
No, side-saddle putting doesn’t guarantee better results for all golfers. Success depends on factors like practice, comfort, and individual adaptability.
Yes, some golfers experiment with a hybrid approach, using side-saddle for longer putts and conventional for shorter ones.
As of my last update, there were no prominent professional golfers who exclusively used side-saddle putting in major tours.
Yes, equipment matters. Golfers might need to make adjustments to their putters and grips to accommodate the side-saddle technique.
In the dynamic world of golf, the choice of putting technique is deeply personal and multifaceted. While side-saddle putting offers potential benefits, its limited adoption underscores the intricate interplay of tradition, comfort, and skill.
As players stand on the precipice of change, the weight of familiarity often tethers them to conventional methods. From physical limitations to psychological barriers, the challenges of transitioning cannot be underestimated.
Golfers, like any athlete, seek the optimal balance between innovation and consistency. The decision to putt side-saddle or not is a testament to the intricate dance between individuality and the timeless pursuit of mastering the greens, ultimately shaping the diverse landscape of golfing styles.