Putting is a Fine Line
Pointing the putter at your target and setting up squarely – it seems so easy.
Research shows it’s about as easy as catching a gnat with chopsticks. Numerous studies have examined how – and how well – golfers aim the putter. (Scientists seem oddly fascinated with the topic.) The consensus: 97% to 99% of us aren’t lined up where we think we are. In other words, nearly all of us set up off-line. Put another way, there’s a 1% – 3% chance that you’re doing it right.
I certainly wasn’t. Yet I had no idea until a golf buddy inadvertently pointed out my problem. (If only I’d owned a Tour Links Putt Master Training Aid. But more on that later.)
Here’s how it went down:
I’m crouched over a 30-foot putt, playing it to break left about 18 inches, when the aforementioned buddy – let’s call him Ralph – decides to take a good look at my line. He stands maybe eight feet behind me, out of my peripheral vision, so it’s no biggie. Until he decides to go all David Feherty. “Whoa,” Ralph blurts out in surprise. “You’re playing that to break right?” Say what? “Yeah, you’re aiming left of the hole. Like, way left.” Hmmm… if you say so. Though I’m slightly annoyed, I adjust my stance and putter face clockwise, a few inches at first. “More,” Ralph says. I keep turning right; he keeps saying, “More.”
By the time he declares, “That’s good,” I’ve rotated four feet, maybe five, from my original aiming spot. I take a look toward the cup. Where the bleep did it go? Finally, I locate the hole… approximately six feet left of where I’m aiming. (Or so I think.) I do my best to ignore the cognitive dissonance and stroke the putt.
Care to guess where it finishes?
- A foot short but dead in the heart
- Three feet left of the cup
- Ten feet right and off the green
- It’s in the hole!
I wish the answer was “d,” but it’s actually “c.” It was a serious moment of clarity.
PuttMaster Training Aid reveals fatal flaw
The trouble with misalignment is actually twofold:
- You’re not aiming where you want the ball to go (duh); and
- Subconsciously, you develop a stroke that compensates for the error. Thus, you unwittingly push or pull your putts to get them on line.
In my case, I was lined up far left of the true line between ball and cup – we’re talking left of Bernie Sanders here – because that’s where my eyes told me the hole was. Then, unintentionally, I yanked the putter back inside and looped it even farther inside to push the ball onto the correct line.
Just like Dave Stockton teaches it… Or not. The moment these flaws were revealed, my putting was toast. Only later, after considerable effort to fix my broken stroke, did I discover the cause. My eyes were aligned outside the ball. Yep. Simple as that. I was merely leaning over a hair too far – an inch, maybe two – so that my eyes looked directly down at the ball’s outer edge.
Moral of the story: Putting all starts with the eyes.
If your gaze falls on the outside of the ball (or farther out), the cup will appear to be left of its actual position. Too far inside the ball and you’ll sense that the hole is to the right. Pretty much everyone agrees that the eyes should either be directly over the ball or slightly inside the line at address. For me, the latter proved to work best. But I didn’t know this until I practiced with Tour Links’ Perfect Putt Training Aid… 33 years into my golf “career.”
Tune in next time for a firsthand account of how the Tour Links Putt Master Training Aid can improve practically every aspect of your putting.
Daniel Mitchell is a golf writer based in Jupiter, Fla. Drop him a line at email@example.com.
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