Here it is… The secret you’ve been waiting for. The thing you need to do to really become a better putter is…
Improve Your Aim
Probably not what you were expecting. It’s not some adjustment you can make to your stroke or new system for better distance control. It may not be a huge secret but the key to becoming a better putter is becoming better at aiming. If you aim the putter face at the target consistently it becomes much easier to make the correct stroke and get the ball rolling online. If you aim left or right you have to make a manipulation in your stroke to get the ball back online. It all sounds simple but aiming the putter is difficult for 2 reasons: The first is that we stand to the side of the golf ball. This takes our eyes out of their normal point of view as we go through life looking straight ahead. If we could putt standing directly behind the golf ball (like bowling), it would be much easier to aim. To overcome this issue we must train our eyes to understand what correct aim looks like. The second reason is that the golf ball is round. A round object has no reference point as to what straight is. Aiming would be a lot easier if the golf ball were square (it may not roll very well through!). Again, to overcome this we must train our eyes to what is square. Despite the difficulty, there are some things you can do to make it easier. Here are 3 things to do to aim your putter better:
1. Check your ball position
This is a simple but often overlooked fundamental of putting. Because of the arc of the putting stroke ball position becomes important (if the putting stroke was perfectly straight ball position wouldn’t matter as much). If the golf ball is too far back in your stance you will tend to aim right and if it is too far forward you will tend to aim left. A good rule of thumb is to have the ball positioned under your left (forward) eye. This gets the ball slightly ahead of the center of your body. A good drill is to setup to a putt and hold a golf ball to your left eye. Drop the ball and see where it lands. If it hits directly on the ball on the ground your ball position is good. If it hits behind or in front, adjust your ball position to accordingly.
2. Check your distance from the ball
This fundamental of putting goes along with number 1. The distance you stand from the golf ball makes a big difference in how you aim. If you stand too close or too far away from the ball, your eyes are going to see a different line than they should. The rule of thumb is to have your eyes directly over the golf ball at address. If your eyes are inside the ball (standing too far away), you will tend to aim right. If your eyes are outside the ball (standing too close), you will tend to aim left. To work on this use the same drill as number 1 and drop a ball from your left eye when you’re setup. If the ball doesn’t hit directly on the ball on the ground you’re either too far away or too close.
3. Practice with a straight line
To become a more consistent aimer, you need to train your eyes. Because of the whole standing to the side of the ball, out eyes just don’t see square naturally. The best way to work on this is practicing with a straight line. The straight line gives you instant feedback on where your putter is aimed with any debate. Ways to practice with a straight line include taking a chalk line and snapping it on the green. Do this for a 3-4 foot putt straight putt and you will see exactly where you aim. Another way to practice with a straight line is to take string and wrap it around 2 pencils. Then stick it in the ground above the line of your putt and the string will give you the line you desire. Aim is not the sexiest thing you can practice but it is the most important for becoming a more consistent putter. Use these 3 tips and you’ll find yourself aiming at the hole more often.
Clay Hood is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org/.