Aiming Your Putter

So many of us want to be better golfers and this means getting our handicaps lowered. Mostly the practice effort goes into placing the golf ball on a golf tee and getting out the driver and working out a way to hit the golf ball further. When we are happy with this then next in the priorities comes the iron play. We practice with working out how to hit the golf ball first and the ground second. Then perhaps golf chipping and pitching starts to be analysed and lastly golf putting.

What if you took the view that your putting was so good that all you have to do is get the ball on the green and you are in your comfort zone. Would this make the rest of your game easier as it takes the pressure off and perhaps enable you to concentrate and practice how to aim the most used club in the bag. Improve your putting and your score will come down and improve your putter aim and your putting will improve.

If you have a golf putting lesson or you research online various putting techniques you will most likely find a whole range of different ways which you could adopt to make you a better putter. You may actually try them all over time and still not perhaps be the greatest of putters which leads to some frustration to say the least when after you have tried all the various ways to putt you still don't feel like you can putt as well as you should. So much effort and time can be employed trying to get some kind of great technique or putting stroke by using the hands the arms or pivoting the shoulders not to mention drills and grip pressure and trying different stances and it goes on and on. But in reality when putting the pace of the ball and the correct aiming of the putter face is really all that matters assuming you can read the greens of course.

This article hopes to provide a different perspective on what is important in being able to putt better and most importantly strives to aid the understanding of how to aim the putter face better which is so important.

For years and years when considering the set up position for putting we are instructed to stand above the golf ball so that if you drop a golf ball from between your eyes then where it hits the ground is where the ball position should be.

Let's consider the putting stroke for a moment. We stand at the side of the ball and make a movement back and through with the putter. To always keep the putter head going directly straight back and through on the same line as the target line we would ideally have to have the eyes over the ball and manipulate the body to get the putter going back and through in one straight line. This is a difficult way to putt but more importantly by having the eyes over the ball it makes it much harder to actually visually line up the face of the putter to the intended line of the ball. When you aim at something you need to be behind it to get a good view like aiming a snooker cue or rifle perhaps. No wonder we can't putt well as we are hindering ourselves in aiming the putter face by an incorrect set up. The degree of misalignment of your putter face magnifies any error as your putts get longer. An error of one degree off the true aiming point of your putter face translates into just a little more than 5 cm (2 inches) off target at 3m (10 feet). All figures are rough guides.

Another consideration is that as we turn our body as we do in most golf shots whether this be using a golf club off a golf tee or simply chipping and pitching then perhaps it would make sense to consider that the putter head as a result would have an arc to it rather than us trying to get it to be going back and through in an unwavering straight line which is difficult. If this idea of an arc is accepted then the face of the putter head must to some degree come inside the target line and open on the way back and the reverse on the follow through. It follows that the putter face is likely to open and then close during the swing especially if you have a blade putter.

To get the ball to start online it might be fair to say that golfers find it easy to automatically open the club face on the backswing as a result of their normal backswing movement but often do not square the club face to their intended line on the way through. This leads to pushes if the club face is open and pulls if they do actually rotate and close the face too much. The putter face alignment at impact is the major factor in deciding where the ball starts its direction so unless we can simplify the process both pushes and pulls are likely.

Another key point is that to maximise roll the experts tell us the putter face needs to have 4 degrees of loft at impact. At this angle the golf ball does not start by having backspin or forward spin but stays in the same position whilst it is airborn just after impact from the putter face until it hits the ground. By placing the ball centrally you limit the aiming ability with your eyes and also your putter face angle at impact might be less than 4 degrees as the chances are you have not reached past the low point of the arc to deliver an ascending strike. Of course you can have the ball back or middle of stance but then you would need a putter with more loft or change the lean of the putter shaft to compensate.

If you have followed the argument so far a recap might be helpful.

1/The most critical aspect of starting a putt online is being able to aim the putter face on the intended target line.

2/ A one degree error in the putter face alignment  gives a result of 5cm adrift at 3m away.

3/Conventional instruction has taught us to have the ball position directly below a point between our eyes but this does not make sense.

4/To optimise the golf ball roll an impact angle of 4 degrees is sought.

5/ The putter head travels on an arc but this means the putter face could be open, square or closed at impact depending on when and how you strike the ball.

What to do about this is the question so that we can aim the putter face better and increase the chances of being a better putter and therefore a better golfer as it will lower your score.

Let's start by saying that at set up place the ball off the lead foot instep just inside the heel. This will help to ensure you can get a better perspective and aim point when viewing the putt. It also helps to ensure your putter head has passed the low point in the swing and is just starting to be on the up. Whether this is giving you 4 degrees of loft at impact is hard to say as this depends on the loft of your putter and where your hands are in the stroke but you can judge if you get a better roll of the ball doing this.

Since the putter head goes in an arc it might also be helpful to not only have your eyes back from the ball by placing it off the instep but also slightly short of the ball -that is slightly nearer to you so you can get a bit of an arc on the stroke.

As mentioned above the putter face opens and closes in the swing but the grip is a key feature in how the putter face behaves at impact and to give greater stability to ensure the putter face closes and does not stay open then it makes sense to actually strengthen the left hand grip and to reduce one of the variables and perhaps eliminate the putter face staying open at impact altogether.


To recap on the above.

Putter face alignment is the most critical aspect of putting (as it relates to the set up you use) of course pace is also key but this is a dynamic feature.

1/Try placing the ball off the inside of the front heel to get your eyes behind the aiming line and to get an ascending strike ideally 4 degrees at impact.

2/Have the point between your eyes just back from the ball a little to help the arc of the swing.

3/To try to minimise not opening the putter face at impact so reducing or eliminating one direction variable at impact by strengthening your left hand grip.

4/Stop trying to find some perfect stroke mechanics in golf putting and focus on being able to deliver the correct putter face alignment from a better set up.

This article has focussed on helping golfers to be able to aim the putter face better and has not really mentioned anything about the putting stroke. But the reality is that whatever putting stroke you have the putter face being square to your intended target line is critical so as long as this is achieved it does not matter how you get there. Of course the pace of the ball is critical too and this is really down to each golfer to know how hard to hit any particular putt. One last thought that you may like to take away is that all great putters continue the path of the hands towards the target line after they impact the golf ball. There is no one technique that will suit everyone but this characteristic is fundamental for good putting.



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