Open Putting Stance – A Guide To The Pros And Cons

Looking for ways to improve your putting? I don’t think there’s a golfer out there from hacker to tour professional that wouldn’t like to hole a few more putts!

Maybe you’ve tried swapping from a blade putter to a mallet putter and it made no difference. Maybe you tried long putters without success.

You might have even given some of these grips a try:

  • overlap 
  • reverse overlap
  • left below right
  • the claw

One area you might not have considered changing is your stance. Most golf instruction teaches you to line up square to the target line whether it’s with your full shots or your putting stroke. While this is usually the best place to start it’s not necessarily the best option for every single golfer.

Have you ever noticed that when tour pros walk up to tap a short putt in they usually do so with their lead foot back from the target line? They are using an open stance!

Opening up your putting stance might reinvigorate your performance on the greens. Let’s take a look at what you need to do and what are the potential benefits and downsides.

What Is An Open Putting Stance?

An open putting stance simply means having your lead foot pulled back further from the ball compared with your trail foot.

So for a right-handed golfer, it would mean your left foot is inside the line that is parallel to the ball-to-target line. (see below)

square stance
Square putting stance
open stance
Open putting stance

Open Putting Stance: Pros

So, what are the benefits of having an open putting stance?

You Can See Your Putting Line Better

The biggest benefit of opening up your putting stance is that it should help you get a better line of sight down your target line. One problem that many players have when they are standing over the ball is the difficulty in Committing to the line that they have picked.

While most golfers will usually have no problem seeing the putting line when standing behind the ball they can often get confused once they get into their putting stance as it becomes more difficult to see the line. Opening up your stance should allow you to see the line much more easily.

Easier To Swing Your Arms

Opening your lower body will make it easier for you to swing your arms through to a nice full finish. This is particularly important on longer putts where you naturally have to get more energy into the ball. 

Helps You Stay Down Through The Ball

A big problem for amateurs is looking up before they’ve actually struck the ball. By opening your stance you give yourself a better view of the hole both consciously and subconsciously so you should be less likely to try and sneak a peek at the hole before impact.

Helps Keep The Putter Online For Longer

Freeing up your arms a little might help you to keep the face of the putter online for longer. This will give you a greater margin for error as you will have a higher chance of striking the putt online.

Open Putting Stance: Cons

May Cause Putts To Be Pulled

If you have been playing the game for some time then you are used to seeing your putter stay fairly square to your feet (at least on short putts). Opening up your lower body stance may lead you to start pulling putts as you try to follow the line of your feet.

May Lead To Bad Habits In The Long Game

Changing to an open putting stance may in the long run lead you to open your stance on other parts of your game which may not be as beneficial to you.

As long as you are paying attention to your setup then this shouldn’t be too difficult to overcome.

Do Tour Professionals Use An Open Putting Stance?

Most professionals tend to use a fairly square putting stance. The most famous golfer to use an open stance was Jack Nicklaus. It is surprising more players didn’t copy his putting style as he was the most successful golfer in history.

Do Coaches Recommend An Open Putting Stance?

Dave Stockton tends to favor an open putting stance in his coaching sessions. He also advocates using your left hand to control the direction and avoid getting flicky.

Brad Faxon, who was one of the greatest putters on the PGA Tour, used a slightly open stance even to the point where his shoulders were a little open. He attributes this to his right eye dominance.

Brad Faxon putting grip and stance

Open Putting Stance – Pros And Cons: Conclusion

So now you know why it might be beneficial to use an open putting stance. Why not give it a go next time you’re on the practice putting green to see whether you find it easier to see the line.

When I’ve tried it I found it did help me see the line a little easier but having used a square stance for so long I always went back to what was comfortable.

Try to remember that you have to set realistic goals for your putting. Even the pros miss their fair share!

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]

Is It Okay To Putt With An Open Stance?

As long as you are maintaining square shoulders then opening your feet at address shouldn’t become a problem. 

If you allow your shoulders to open then that is likely to introduce issues with your path and pulling putts.

Did Jack Nicklaus Putt With An Open Stance?

Yes, the 18-time major champion did putt with an open putting stance. He felt it allowed him to see the line better when he stood over the ball.

Does Tiger Woods Putt With An Open Stance?

No Tiger has tended to put with a fairly traditional square putting stance during his career.

Is There An Illegal Putting Stance?

Yes. Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to putt croquet style with your feet straddling the line.

You can try to putt croquet style with your feet on one side of the line however as long as your putter conforms to the Rules of Golf.

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