At the United States Golf Academy we have taken a special interest in putting and we are becoming well known for our efforts. We just recently finished a three year study documenting over 12,000 putting strokes with our PuttLab technology. We combined that with over 18,000 strokes from a database of research done prior to our time at the Academy. Our findings from this study were in many ways surprising and certainly did not agree with some of the most common advice on putting.
Our most important find was that understanding the visual aspect of putting was the key to becoming a better putter. It is very clear to us that all golfers see things differently and so how the head and eyes are positioned for the most accurate view of the putt has to be different for each player. The standard of having the eyes over the ball does not work for most. Finding where you see the putt best will determine two things. Ball position and body posture, or how you stand to the ball.
Once your unique posture and ball position are determined, it is then very important that you have a putter fit to the proper length and lie angle to connect the distance from hands to the ball. It is much more common to see a golfer contort themselves to fit the putter they have in the bag. Quite simply that doesn’t work. The putter has to fit the individual not the other way around.
Once the putter fits, how the stroke is shaped, and the direction the putter swings, must be determined by the player’s posture and distance from the ball. You cannot try to steer the putter visually during the stroke to satisfy whatever impression you might have of the best or right way. Once a fit putter is aimed, it is important that the stroke becomes a mechanical movement determined by the fit, and choice of putter. Not something you try to do. We call this getting out of your own way and it is the secret to successful putting. If you try to manipulate the putter while it is in motion you might get lucky once in awhile, but for the majority of the time you will fail. When fit to the proper dimensions a putter should swing easily, this is helped by the design, balance and weight of a putter, the second important aspect of the fitting and putter selection process.
An easy test to see if you have the correct putter and fit is to hit putts with your eyes closed during the swing. Aim the putter, set your body, then close your eyes and swing. If your putter works for you there will be no change in efficiency, eyes open or closed. Over 90% of players who participated in the study were more accurate with their eyes closed after the fitting process, than they were with their prior technique and eyes open.