Putting Alignment Techniques
The importance of process and practice
Whatever your level of play, you’ll need to work on your “process” if you are going to take your putting to the next level. The stroke is only part of well executed putt. In fact it could be considered the result of a well executed process. This is why the process is the true measure of success of your putts, not whether the ball went in or not. If you can learn a good process, and make that the goal, you will hole more putts.
What process will do for you
Your process is going to provide the structure and have you feeling as confident as possible when you’re over the ball. It’ll make sure you’re focus is on the things that are going to help you most (instead of thinking about the outcome and what the putt will do for your score). There are fundamentals in a putting process, but beyond that it’s about focusing on the senses that help you most. This is what my GSOM Putting System is all about – helping you put together a process which will help you access your best, on a consistent basis. In this lesson, we’re going to cover a very important part of this process, a fundamental if you will, perfecting putting alignment, so you get the ball started on the right line.
Putting alignment: 3 Ways To Get The Putter Square To Your Start Line, Every Time.
Experiment with these and see which gives you the best results.
Many Tour players concentrate on “rolling” the ball over a spot about 6-12 inches in front of the ball. They still see the whole putt and visualize it going in, but they use their spot to get aligned and get the putt started on the right line.
How do you find your “spot”?
Once you’ve read the green and determined the line of your putt (need putting tips on green reading?), you will know which direction the ball needs to move in the first 2-3 feet. For the putting alignment phase of your routine, this should become be the focus as (with the long game too) it’s a lot easier to align yourself to a spot close to your body that way out in the distance.
Spot putting is the method I use. I like to do my rehearsal strokes across the line while looking down at the line. This way I can match the intended line with the intended pace and at the same time, figure out the line the ball needs to start on.
Ho To Find Your Spot
1. Read the green and (if it’s not a straight putt) find the “apex” of the putt. This is the furthest point outside the hole – where the ball starts to turn in the other direction.
2. Check out the diagram below (courtesy of Aimpoint Technologies) and you’ll see that the putt needs to start on a line that is outside the apex of the putt. One of the reasons that a lot of amateurs “under-read” putts, is because they assume the putt is straight to the apex and don’t play it outside far enough to get it to that point. This putting alignment technique will fix this.
3. Hold your putter (vertically) out at arms-length and close your non-dominant eye. Next move your focus (along the shaft of the putter) to about six inches in front of the ball and find your spot. This could be a discolored piece of grass, a spike mark or whatever you can pick out. If you the roll the ball over that spot, you will be hitting the ball on the line to take it over apex and if the speed is right, you have a high chance of making it.
Note: The reason I like to do my rehearsal strokes before I find my spot, is because if I did them after, I could lose sight of my spot and I’d have to start the routine over.
Other ways to align to your start line
Using a line on the golf ball
Some players prefer the putting alignment technique of a line on the ball. You can do this with a Sharpie or these transfers from Golf Dotz. Make sure you use your non-dominant eye to line up the line on your ball to the start-line that is outside the apex.
Just “eye-balling” it
Some players, such as Bubba Watson, don’t use spots or lines at all, they just use their imagination and feel to sense the pace and direction needed. Spots and lines would feel restrictive to a such a player.
How to practice starting the ball on the right line
This is also a good drill to see how square the face is at impact.
1. Choose a putt that has a little break to it, and put a ball marker behind the ball (a flat one), so you can putt from the same place each time.
2. Putt a couple of balls without a spot and get a feel for the line and pace
3. Now place another flat ball marker down (6-12 ins in front of the ball) marking the your spot the ball need to roll over to get it on the right line
4. Now putt 25 balls, getting it to roll over your spot. If you find the spot is in the wrong place, adjust it until you get it right.
5. Repeat on a different location of the green.
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Not sure what you mean about using your non dominant eye to line it up outside the apex?
Hi Karl, thanks for your comment. What I mean there is, you need to close your non-dominant eye, so you are using your dominant “aiming” eye, to find the right spot to aim at. Most amateurs under-read putts because they don’t take into account the break that happens before the apex, so aiming directly at the apex will mean the ball breaks before the apex and misses low. Hence you need to find an imaginary start line that if you extended that line, would go slightly outside the apex. Make sense?
These are great! Thanks so much for the advice, will put it to use next time I get to the practice green.
One question though: if you have a putt that breaks two ways, how do you pick a spot at the apex?