PUTTING AND EYESIGHT
I had recently been wondering why most of my missed short putts are to the left, so I devised a technique for analysing the cause of the problem. Obviously, the way we are obliged (by the rules) to putt is not natural. I describe it like this: "imagine that the rules of snooker allowed you to crouch down and line up your shot in the conventional way, looking along the cue and the line you intend the ball to follow, but then had to stand up and off to one side in order to take the shot". Ridiculous, but that's how we have to putt!
The chance of your putter-head alignment being square to the required line of putt as evaluated from behind the ball when you line up is just that - pure chance. In fact, if you can you probably have unbalanced vision, as assessing a straight line on the ground from a point five feet below your eyes and offset by several inches to a target off to one side is effectively impossible.
So, you need to know where your supposed straight aim is actually pointing. The way to do this on the practice green is to find a 20-foot putt that you think is dead straight and line up a mark on the green about 6 feet from the ball that you know is exactly on that line, then take your stance and square the clubface up with the hole before checking whether you think the clubface is square to the mark. Chances are, it isn't. Repeat this exercise a few times, then in reverse, by taking your stance and aim at the hole then noting a mark that you think is dead in line before going behind the ball to check if it is. You will then know whether your eyes naturally line you up to the right or left of the true line, which will be forcing you to correct this during the stroke by opening or closing the clubface to compensate. Experience will have taught your subconscious to do this but it will reduce your long-putting accuracy as you have to balance two or more compensating errors.
However, when you have a short putt (i.e. one where you can see the hole within your field of vision when addressing the ball without moving your head) your conscious mind will observe that the alignment doesn't look right - just as the exercise above demonstrated. You will therefore make a further compensation which will almost certainly be excessive, so you miss on the opposite side to the one you were aiming at. In my case, I aim off right and compensate quite well with my longer putts, but notice this with short putts and was pulling them left during the stroke.
After completing this exercise I taught myself to accept the apparent bias to the right when I can see the hole and be aware that my putter-head is actually square to the intended line despite appearances, and not to close the clubface during the stroke. I also assist this by taking a left hand grip with the palm pointing upwards rather than to the right as the tightening of the left hand grip pressure during the take-away is a prime cause of the club rotating anti-clockwise and this does not occur with that changed grip. Try taking the address position with the club on the ground and just your left hand on the grip, then tighten your grip as if to start the club back and see which way the clubface moves. Experiment with other left hand grips as above until you find the neutral position.
I have a more detailed Word document on this procedure if anyone is interested, or if the moderators would like to put it up on the website. I should have a few hours to spare tomorrow as I am very unlikely to be playing!
Reply : Thu 2nd Dec 2010 08:12
Hi Terry, interesting post. I'll drop you a PM but I would be interested to know what putter you are using.
This seems to be something a number of inventors are trying to address with a whole bunch of training aids and putters with visual line finders. Most are legal for competition play, what's not and I think Poulter is a big fan of during practice is chalk lines, not sure how many of our local courses would thank us for chalking on practice greens!
Reply : Thu 2nd Dec 2010 12:04
Thanks for the response, I look forward to the PM.
Problem is with the technology fixes, they're addressing the wrong problem. Unless the player knows which way his personal stance and alignment happen to point the clubface then a device that seems to confirm that he has it exactly right is no use - he'll simply have his error reinforced. Plus, no one putter can allow for the fact that there are two distinct types of putt - those where the hole is in the field of view and those where it isn't. Thinking aloud here, but if a player is tested and the number of degrees he naturally aims left or right is determined he could then have a putter with an aiming line that corrected this. For example, if I am actually aiming left when I think the clubface is square the line should point a few degrees left of square to correct this.
Poulter can chalk lines on his own green, but there are always blemishes on the green that can be used as focus marks, or you can use one or several ball markers. If I line up a straight long putt then decide on a point that I feel is on the line I can then step forward and put a ball marker on that point. Going behind the ball and checking it is immediately obvious that my marker is offline.
Reply : Thu 2nd Dec 2010 13:47
When lining up a putt you should allways do it with 1 eye. I was allways taught to find out which eye is your dominant eye and use this eye to line up putts. Coincedantally there is article in the tips section of todays golfer this month doing the same thing my uncle taught me to do a few years back.
Reply : Thu 2nd Dec 2010 14:36
I'm pretty sure this happens automatically, Gary. Do you mean lining up from behind the ball or when you are over the ball?
From behind the ball if you use the plumbob method with your putter shaft you'll find that when you close one eye the shaft will cover the ball and the hole. Close the other and the shaft will move several inches to one side - if it moves to the right of the hole then your right eye is the master eye, and vice versa. So, you use your master eye without knowing it, I don't think it would make much difference actually closing the other eye but it's worth an experiment! You'll lose the 3-D and it will make slopes more difficult to read, I would expect.
If you mean close one eye when in the address position that's something I hadn't considered. When I can see the grass on the practice green again I shall repeat my analysis technique described above to see if one eye or the other differs from using both. Thanks for the idea, I'll post the results when I've tried it out.
Reply : Wed 25th Jul 2012 12:36
old post but worthy bringing up again
Reply : Wed 25th Jul 2012 21:23
Putting is a game within a game. You will only hole a putt when you get both line and speed correct. One common problem with 6 - 10 ft putts is that we tend to watch the ball (so pulling the putt) rather than staying still. This is also common when hitting all other shots too.
Reply : Sat 29th Aug 2015 20:04
Hi Gus, I'm amazed that a post of mine from five years ago has got a reply, but I am still very interested in the topic of putting! However, I don't quite understand your question. Can you re-phrase it, please, and I will be happy to think about a response. What do you mean by "ciinder", and "under an angle of 30-45 degrees"? Does this mean that you can't see anything in your lower field of vision?
Last edit : Sat 29th Aug 2015 20:04