The following is an excerpt from the Burnt Edges Consulting Reference Guide for online clients.
Copyright ©2010 Bruce Rearick . All rights reserved.
Vision is the strongest and most influential of our senses. How we position ourselves relative to the target and the ball on the ground is almost 100% visual. We all have different and varying degrees of eye dominance which makes how we perceive the task of set up unique for each of us. However, almost every putter fitting protocol insists on an eye location and posture that is the same for all. I call this forcing the posture. But if we are all built differently and we all perceive the target from side on, in different ways, is it logical to think there is one best way?
Finding the best ball position and appropriate set up is difficult in putting because of what we are asking our eyes to do. We align things best when our dominant eye is positioned on the same line as the objects we are trying to line up. For golf this means behind the ball looking toward the target. But we don’t strike the ball from there, do we? We move to a side on position to strike the putt. Maintaining perspective while moving our dominant eye from down the line, to a side on position, is the problem that has to be addressed. If your perception of the path to the hole changes as you move into the position, the result is a stroke based on an inaccurate perception of the path to the target. Any subsequent miss creates an inconsistent “steering” of the putter in an attempt to find a square face at impact. We may even eventually find it, but can we use this steering motion consistently? While this sounds silly, it is the life of the average competitive player. On and off, hot and cold as they continuously search for that perfect compensation.
Since the golf ball and the putter head are stationary, in order to insure accuracy you must position your eyes in the proper position relative to the ball. This was the critical discovery. With some help and effort every player can find their individual ball position and distance from the ball where perception of direction, side on is the same as perception down the line. The solution is simply to let your eyes tell you where to stand rather than force your set up to perceived norms. This concept explains the different postures and setups we have observed from successful techniques. Rather than force a position, they found a comfortable set up where they could see the path to the hole accurately.
Finding your Best Set Up.
Place a straight line reference on the ground and point it at a target. A yard stick is perfect. Do not use a continuous line to the target. Try to create the scenario shown in the drawing although your exact positioning will be different than the example. Any straight line reference will work as long as it does not connect to the target. Looking at the reference line, WITHOUT A PUTTER position yourself to the side of the line in a balanced golf stance. From this position, the reference line may point left, right, or directly at the target. Move around a little; as you move closer or farther away you should notice that your perception of where the straight reference line points will change. Your goal is to find the position/stance where the reference line looks like it is pointed to the target. If you have difficulty or feel you need to open or close your stance to find the position, move the ball position in the direction of your dominant eye. Eventually you will find a set up that allows you to see the line accurately. Next do the same exercise with your putter. When you take the photograph do your set ups match? Are your eyes in the same position?
Spend as much time as you need to find this set up, experiment as much as necessary, ask as many questions as you need. We recommend that you do this test from time to time just to make sure you are not letting your current putter fit alter your set up. However, do not do this exercise with putter in your hands until you can find this position with regularity. Then fit the length and lie based on the following recommendations in the next section on balance and hand position. There is no harm in experimenting to see how set up changes influence putter recommendations.