Is Side Saddle Putting Legal? Its Rules and Benefits

Colin McCarthy

Is Side saddle putting legal

Side saddle putting has sparked curiosity and debate among golf enthusiasts. The technique, which involves facing the hole while putting, offers a unique approach that contrasts with traditional methods. But is it legal? The answer is a resounding yes.

The rules of golf explicitly allow side saddle putting, provided it adheres to specific guidelines. Players must avoid straddling the putt and ensure their putter’s lie angle isn’t 90 degrees perpendicular.

With these conditions met, side saddle putting remains a valid and interesting option for golfers looking to enhance their game.

Side Saddle Putting in Golf

Side saddle putting is an unconventional putting technique in golf where the golfer stands beside the ball and faces the hole directly, rather than standing behind the ball like in traditional putting.

What Is Side Saddle Putting?

Side saddle putting is a technique in golf where the player faces the hole while putting, rather than standing parallel to the line of the putt.

This method offers a different perspective and can help some golfers achieve more precise alignment. Unlike traditional putting styles, side saddle positioning allows the golfer to use a pendulum-like stroke.

Players should ensure the club’s lie angle isn’t perpendicular to the ground, as this adheres to the rules outlined by the United States Golf Association (USGA).

Historical Context and Evolution

The origins of side saddle putting can be traced back to notable golfers experimenting with innovative techniques to improve accuracy.

One of the most significant moments in its history was when Sam Snead adopted a similar croquet-style method, which involved standing directly behind the ball.

This style was later banned by the USGA, leading Snead and others to refine it into what is now known as side saddle putting.

Over the years, this putting style has garnered interest for its potential to reduce common alignment errors and improve consistency on the greens.

Despite its unconventional appearance, side saddle putting remains within the legal parameters set by golfing authorities, making it a viable option for modern golfers.

Legality of Side Saddle Putting in Golf

The legality of side saddle putting in golf has been a subject of debate over the years, particularly regarding adherence to the Rules of Golf set forth by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A).

The Rules of Golf on Putting Techniques

Side saddle putting, also known as face-on putting, adheres to the Rules of Golf as outlined by the United States Golf Association (USGA).

The USGA allows this putting style provided players don’t anchor the club or intentionally hold a forearm against the body.

The shaft’s lie angle must be at least 80 degrees to conform, preventing a vertical shaft that supports a pendulum motion.

Players can’t make a stroke with feet astride or standing on the line of the putt. This ensures the player stands beside the ball, maintaining compliance with regulations.

These rules aim to standardize putting techniques while allowing flexibility for different styles, including the unconventional side saddle method.

Notable Decisions and Rulings

Historical rulings have shaped current regulations. The USGA banned croquet-style putting—standing behind the ball after prominent golfer Sam Snead used it. This decision prompted golfers to seek alternative methods like side saddle putting.

In 2016, the USGA updated regulations, reinforcing the ban on anchoring but permitting various putting styles, including side saddle.

These decisions underscore the USGA’s commitment to maintaining fair play while accommodating innovative techniques, ensuring that modern golfers have diverse options for improving their game on the greens.

Benefits of Side Saddle Putting

Side saddle putting offers several potential benefits for golfers, which contribute to its appeal as an alternative putting technique:

Accuracy and Stability

Side saddle putting, a technique where players face the hole, enhances accuracy significantly. Unlike traditional methods, this technique allows better alignment of the putter’s face with the target line.

By facing the hole, golfers can see the entire putting line, which helps in making more accurate strokes. This visual advantage minimizes the chances of misalignment and boosts confidence.

Stability also improves with side saddle putting. In this technique, both feet remain grounded, creating a solid and balanced stance.

This balance reduces body movement, ensuring a smoother putt. Less body motion translates to greater control over the putter’s path and speed, crucial for consistent performance.

For example, players reported making more putts within 10 feet using this method due to its inherent stability.

Comparison with Traditional Putting Methods

Side saddle putting offers a different perspective when compared to traditional methods. Traditional putting typically requires standing parallel to the ball, leading to more reliance on lateral movements and eye-hand coordination.

In contrast, side saddle putting eliminates the need for these adjustments by providing a direct view of the target line, enhancing precision.

Traditional putting methods often involve complex stances and grips, which can lead to inconsistencies. Side saddle putting simplifies this by using a straightforward grip and stance, reducing the variables in each stroke.

Golfers who struggle with distance control in traditional putting might find side saddle methods easier, as the technique naturally aligns the body with the putt, aiding in consistent stroke execution.

Challenges Faced by Side Saddle Putters

While side saddle putting offers various benefits, it also presents some challenges that golfers may encounter when adopting this technique:

Adaptation Period

Transitioning to side saddle putting requires a significant adjustment in technique and stance, which can take time to master.

Golfers may experience a learning curve as they familiarize themselves with the new putting setup and develop consistency in their stroke.

However, once mastered, side saddle putting can offer enhanced precision and control. Many golfers report improved alignment and putting performance, making it a viable option for those seeking to refine their game.

Alignment Issues

While side saddle putting can improve alignment for some golfers, others may struggle to consistently align themselves properly with the intended line of the putt.

Misalignment can lead to missed putts or inconsistent results, requiring careful practice and attention to detail.

Golfers considering this method should note that while side saddle putting is legal according to the rules of golf, it demands a specific skill set and dedication to practice for effective implementation.

Distance Control

Achieving consistent distance control can be challenging with side saddle putting, especially when faced with longer putts or varying green speeds.

Golfers may need to refine their stroke mechanics and develop a keen sense of touch to effectively gauge distance and pace on different greens.

Despite these challenges, side saddle putting remains a legal technique under the rules of golf. With dedicated practice, golfers can master this unique putting style and potentially improve their overall performance on the green.

Limited Equipment Options

Finding suitable side saddle putters and equipment can be challenging, as they are less commonly available compared to traditional putters.

Golfers may need to explore custom fitting options or seek out specialized equipment manufacturers to find a putter that suits their preferences and needs.

Additionally, understanding the rules and regulations concerning side saddle putting is crucial. The USGA and R&A rules permit side saddle putting, ensuring that golfers can confidently use this technique in official competitions.

Rule Interpretations

While side saddle putting is generally accepted under the Rules of Golf, there may be instances where golfers encounter rule interpretations or restrictions specific to certain tournaments or competitions.

It’s essential for golfers to familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations governing side saddle putting to avoid any issues during play.

Additionally, consulting the tournament’s rulebook or speaking with officials before competing can provide clarity. Clubs and courses might also have local rules that could impact your putting technique.

Social Stigma

Despite its potential benefits, side saddle putting remains relatively uncommon in the golfing community. Golfers who adopt this technique may face social stigma or skepticism from peers who are more accustomed to traditional putting methods.

Overcoming these perceptions may require confidence and conviction in one’s chosen putting style. However, it’s important to note that side saddle putting is fully legal under the Rules of Golf.

This technique adheres to all regulations, allowing golfers to utilize it without any concerns about rule violations.

Common Misconceptions

Common misconceptions often discourage golfers from trying side saddle putting. One major belief is that side saddle putting lacks precision due to its unconventional stance.

Some assume it’s illegal, mistakenly equating it with croquet-style putting. However, according to the United States Golf Association (USGA), side saddle putting is fully legal.

Another misconception is that it requires specialized equipment. In reality, you can use a regular putter, although some players prefer longer ones for better alignment. The key is to find what works best for you.

Adaptation Period and Learning Curve

Adaptation to side saddle putting involves a significant learning curve. Initial difficulties include consistent alignment, as golfers’ eyes are positioned left of the target line if right-handed.

Mastering a straight back and through stroke without pulling across the body requires practice, as traditional putting methods emphasize an arc stroke.

Feedback from a teaching pro indicates that many players struggle to maintain a straight path, which can hinder initial performance. Nevertheless, with dedication, golfers can overcome these challenges and benefit from the potential improvements in putting accuracy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is side saddle putting?

Side saddle putting is a technique in golf where players face the hole directly while putting, aiming to improve alignment and stroke consistency.

Is side saddle putting legal under USGA rules?

Yes, side saddle putting is legal according to the United States Golf Association (USGA) rules.

Who popularized side saddle putting?

Golfer Sam Snead is credited with popularizing side saddle putting around 1966 to combat his putting struggles known as the yips.

What are the benefits of side saddle putting?

Side saddle putting can enhance accuracy and stroke consistency due to better alignment with the hole.

Are there challenges with side saddle putting?

Yes, the main challenges include the adaptation period, learning curve, alignment difficulties, and mastering a straight back and through stroke.

Is side saddle putting uncomfortable?

Initially, side saddle putting can feel strange and uses different muscles, but with practice, it becomes more comfortable.


Side saddle putting remains a viable and legal option for golfers seeking improved accuracy. The USGA’s confirmation of its legality dispels any misconceptions about its use.

While the technique involves a learning curve and initial alignment challenges, dedicated practice can yield significant benefits.

Golfers willing to invest time in mastering side saddle putting may find it a valuable addition to their game, enhancing their performance on the greens.

In summary, side saddle putting’s legality and potential advantages warrant consideration. Its effectiveness has been endorsed by many who have seen improved accuracy and consistency in their putting strokes.

For those struggling with traditional putting methods, exploring the side saddle technique might be a game-changing decision.

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Colin McCarthy

Golf is about mastering your misses and learning from them. I seek answers on the how and why of the golf swing, gaining experience even when answers elude me. With over 11,000 hours of teaching and a hunger for learning, I welcome any questions. My goal is to introduce golf to as many as possible, simplifying the game for all to enjoy. Passionate, eager, and ambitious, I'm here to teach, listen, and learn. LinkedIn

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