Today’s putting tip is a simple test you can carry out in order to drastically improve your putting accuracy, virtually in seconds!
If you read our previous blog about practicing at home, you will remember that putting at home can provide very valuable feedback that you can then take to the golf course. Before we get started with today’s tip which is intended to improve your putting accuracy, let’s discuss a critical aspect for good putting, your eyeline and how you see a straight putt.
Now most of you will already be thinking “I know where my eyes should be, directly over the ball”, after all that’s what we have been repeatedly told over the years, and in some instances you would be correct in your thinking. Or, you might be saying an inch or two inside the ball, and neither statements would be factually incorrect. However, it’s not about positioning your eyes in a certain position, so that your playing partners on a Saturday morning think that your set-up is “textbook” perfect, yet you still don’t hole your fair share of putts? How does that make sense? It’s not about looking good, it’s about holing putts. Which you will be doing a lot more of after you improve your putting accuracy
Over the years you will be forgiven for thinking that your eyes absolutely have to be directly over the ball (as illustrated above), which is what has been commonly trotted out over the years. Through my work over the past 3 years with P2 Grips, I have been very fortunate to get to work with, and speak with some really quality putting coaches, and they will all tell you that your eyes do not have to be in a certain prescribed position. They need to be in the best position that works for you. This position is a position that allows you to see a straight line.
Is A Straight Line Really A Straight Line?
My eyes were first opened (excuse the pun) to the tricks your eyes can play when I went over to visit Dr. Paul Hurrion back in 2013. One of the things he did with me was set-up about a 10-12ft putt. I set-up over the ball and then he positioned a ball halfway directly between my ball and the hole. The question he asked was where does the ball in the middle look to you? Is it in a straight line between you and the hole or slightly left or right of that imaginary straight line? The answer was no, the ball in the middle looked like it was too far to the left, simply not in line. Paul then told me to move the ball in the middle to where I believed it was is a straight line, I moved the ball in the middle a touch to the right, set-up over the ball again and then said “yes, now I’m happy”.
At this point Paul took out a laser alignment tool and positioned the red laser directly through the ball I was setting up over and the hole. I was very surprised to see just how much the ball in the middle was positioned to the right of this laser line, it definitely was not on a straight line between my ball and the hole. In short, my perception of a straight line was right of the hole, and this resulted in me aiming too far to the right.
But how can this help you at home? Do you have a laser line casually laying around the house? unlikely. So here’s what to do instead.
If you have an alignment rod you can use that, if not I often have people use a standard measuring tape, and quite often people find the measuring tape more effective in generating feedback. The great thing about the measuring tape is that you can very quickly check your perception over various lengths, and be sure that your perception doesn’t change as the putts get longer or shorter.
Start at 6ft, pull out the tape and place it on the ground. You can position a ball at the end of the tape and set-up to it, but you do not need to have the ball, the tape alone is fine. Set-up to the end of the tape and build your normal stance, position your putter face square against the end of the tape and when you are ready look down towards the other end of the tape measure.
Is the end of the tape measure where you thought it would be? Does it feel like it should be further left/ right of where it is?
When I did this the first time again it showed up my tendency of aiming right. If I set-up in what use to be my “normal” set-up I felt the end of the measuring tape should have been positioned further right than where it was. Now, you might see it on the opposite side, depending on how you set-up?
So, I needed to figure out what I needed to do/ change to allow myself to see that line as straight. For me, because the natural instinct was to aim right I needed to aim left. I didn’t over think it, and now every putt I hit I feel like I set up open to the putt, I feel that my feet, knees, hips and shoulders aim a little further to the left of the hole and this feeling positions my eyes correctly and allows me to set-up, aim and execute with confidence.
If you try this, and everything feels good when you set-up then that’s brilliant. You don’t have to look for a fault, don’t worry if it doesn’t feel like you are doing something wrong, you might just already have a great set-up. If you do feel like the end of the measuring tape is a little too far left/ right of where you think it should be to be perceived as a straight line to you, then just move yourself around a little until it does begin to look straight.
Standing further away, eyes inside the line. Does that work better for you?
Feet closer, eyes outside the ball. Does that work better for you?
Try feeling like you set-up a little more open/ closed, move the ball forward/ back a fraction, move your feet slightly further away from the ball, move your feet slightly closer to the ball, stand a little taller, stand slightly more bent over. It doesn’t matter what it is, just find a position that the 5/6/8/10ft line looks straight, and a feeling that you can re-create each time you stand over a putt.
Hopefully, that will help to improve your putting accuracy. Check out some other putting tips that may help you improve your putting: