Connect with us

Instruction

7 techniques to improve your putting alignment

Published

on

Aiming a golf club to your target, in this case the putter, is like shooting a gun while looking at the barrel from the side. It would be so much easier if we could putt side-saddle like Sam Snead did. The rules of golf prohibit such action, however, so we’re left to find effective ways to align ourselves on the greens that abide by the USGA rules.

In my studio at Vidanta in Puerto Vallarta, I utilize the SAM PuttLab, which measures more than 20 different putting factors. With it, I’ve seen first-hand just how difficult it is to align the putter. And it’s not just average golfers. My studies have shown that even PGA Tour players struggle to aim the putter exactly where they intend.

So what chance does the average golfer have? With the 7 techniques I write about below, a much better chance than he or she does now. 

Before we get to the techniques, I want to offer a SAM PuttLab screenshot from one of the better putters on the PGA Tour. Note that this player consistently aims the putter 2.5 degrees to the right of his intended target. His setup necessitates a change in face alignment on the way back and through impact in order to begin the ball in the correct direction.

StickneyPutter

Touring professionals have spent years honing and ingraining repeatable strokes, and it may not be best for them to change the way they’ve been putting. They’ve earned their stripes, so as long as they return the putter to a position at impact that starts the ball on their intended line, where they initially aim can be of little consequence.

Amateurs, on the other hand, should work to limit the amount of manipulations in their strokes. This will give them the best chance possible to start the ball on their intended line.

Ready to give it a shot? Here are my 7 best techniques to improve your putting alignment.

Put a line on your ball

Line on ball

It’s easy to understand why drawing a line on your ball and aiming it from behind can help your putting alignment. As we mentioned before, it’s easier to aim from behind the barrel than beside it. If you watch golf closely on television, you’ll notice a majority of top PGA Tour players use a line on their golf ball for this purpose. 

Use a putter with a line

LIne on putter

The more lines you have perpendicular to the bottom of the putter face, the easier it will be to line up correctly. Some people prefer one line, while others prefer multiple lines. Whatever you’re preference, there’s no question that the majority of golfers will aim their putter better if it has a line on it.  

Use other clubs to form railroad tracks

RR Tracks

As with your long game, placing a few clubs on the ground will help you to “see” what square, open, and closed looks like in relation to your target will help your alignment. Again, you don’t have to be perfectly aligned, but if you think you are lined up one way (say, opened), but are actually lined up another (say, closed), I can guarantee you’ll run into trouble.  

Audit your right-hand grip

Rt hand grip

For whatever reason, I commonly see people’s right hand too much “on top” of the grip as shown in this photo. Remember, whenever your right hand is in opposition with your left hand, poor alignment will generally follow.

Make sure your shoulders are square

Shoulder alignment

Use a club under your armpits, like I’m demonstrating above, to see where your shoulders are in relation to your feet and target line. Open or closed shoulders are an issue that are usually affected by your grip. 

Be wary: Golfers with left-hand low grips tend to have closed shoulders at address, while golfers who use the traditional, right-hand low putter grip tend to have opened shoulders. 

Monitor your right forearm

High rt forearm

If the right forearm rides too high then you’ll tend to be too open to your target during your setup. Make sure your right forearm is in line with the club shaft and the left forearm at address. This will increase your odds of aiming where you want to aim more consistently.

Set up while looking at the hole and trust

Look at hole

When all else fails, just look at the hole, set your putter down, and fire. You’ll be aligned better than you think. 

Your Reaction?
  • 303
  • LEGIT56
  • WOW15
  • LOL15
  • IDHT7
  • FLOP15
  • OB9
  • SHANK72

Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: tom.stickney@puntamita.com

33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. brian watts

    Feb 2, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    Like the article. what putter is in featured in this ?????

  2. Bob Pegram

    Jul 15, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    The touring pro who aims his putter 2.5 degrees to the right at address has an interesting statistic shown on the SAM Putt Lab screenshot. His consistency is 92 percent. In other words, although his alignment is way off, he does it the same way almost every time and so must have a compensating move that he does just about every time.
    That same peculiarity explains the variety of full swings on tour. Everybody’s anatomy is different and so our tendencies vary. A lot of practice will tell us where to compensate (but starting with what Tom shows is a good foundation to build on).
    The touring pro may have an eye alignment issue that he has learned to allow for.

  3. Killer

    Nov 25, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Putt with a string over your putting line. Great at home or even at the course when no one is around the practice green. Allows you to learn what straight looks and feels like. When you are ready to putt, think target, target, target, don’t sweat the small stuff, everything else!

  4. Scott

    Nov 24, 2015 at 9:49 am

    thanks Tom, something to work on this winter

  5. Steve

    Nov 22, 2015 at 8:49 am

    Nice edit taking negative reviews away

  6. Andy W

    Nov 21, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Great article on getting the ball rolling on the intended line at hopefully the proper speed. But what if your “intended line” isn’t the correct line to hole the putt? The idea is to actually make putts, right? Or at least have a chance. Best of both worlds happens with the P&SI-EGOS..

  7. Christestrogen

    Nov 21, 2015 at 10:02 am

    Another A+++ article…..
    You are on a roll…..pun intended

    -Christosterone

  8. Wallace

    Nov 20, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    Tom, this is a great article with good information. Very few people can properly line up a putter. And it doesn’t have to slow down play. Just be ready and put the ball down the way you want it. I wish some of these people knew how hard a Trackman University course is. Keep up the good work and thanks for feeding this site with great content.

  9. Don

    Nov 20, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    There’s nothing more frustrating than waiting around while a golfer aligns, then re-aligns, the line on their ball before putting. This “tip” promotes more slow play than it improves a golfer’s putting.

    TAKE THE DAM LINE OFF THE BALL. And, keep up the pace of play.

    • Bert

      Nov 21, 2015 at 6:42 pm

      +2 play weekly with a golfer who repeatedly does this; please attend the flag-stick while line up the line on my ball for my 10 foot putt. Then you remove the flag-stick and after they miss the putt, they go through the same routine again aligning up the stupid line on the ball. I doubt they ever read the contour of the green, grain, or just how the ball will roll. The USGA and R&A should have addressed for the 2016 Revision. It’s slow play and torture to those in the same group.

  10. Stretch

    Nov 20, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    A lot of shanks for a direction for the average player to help improve.

    Having been a land surveyor I cannot line a line on the ball perfect enough to satisfy a need for extreme accuracy.

    Lining up body angles does help the arms swing the shaft in plane with the aim line. How ever the most important body part to get lined up is the eye line. The best example is Jack Nicklaus who had every body line way open and the body mass behind the ball. This let him shove the putter down the line as well as bottom out at Impact which put the magic roll on the ball.

  11. Rich

    Nov 20, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    When I see a player with a big line on the side of their ball playing in my group, I know I’m in for a slow day on the course. Our club champion does this and he is the slowest player on the greens I have ever seen. EVERY putt gets lined up with the stupid line! It’s painful!

    • Bob Jones

      Nov 25, 2015 at 3:36 pm

      I played with a guy who was bent down like forever tweaking the line on his ball, and it was a 60-foot putt! The ball ran two feet left of the hole and ended up ten feet past. Oh, well…

  12. Jang Han

    Nov 20, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Good tips from the melon head guy!

  13. alanp

    Nov 20, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    thanks for the article. there is alot of merit to your last point. next time do an article on how not to be a negative person and suck at life. seems like thats all these people know how to do

  14. Chris

    Nov 20, 2015 at 10:38 am

    Good info here! And that is a really nice looking putter!

  15. Jimmeh

    Nov 20, 2015 at 2:37 am

    Something else that might work is making sure your dominant eye is on top of the golf ball. That way when you look at your intended target (hole, line etc) there is no visual distortion from your (right eye in my case) being a couple of inches away

  16. snowman

    Nov 19, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    What I’ve had some success with is looking TOWARD the hole (rather than zeroing in on the hole itself) but at the same time trusting my feet to set into proper position and then aligning my shoulders to my ‘foot line’ and starting the ball on a path that is parallel to my shoulder/foot alignment (make sense?). Eyes/brain/feet all work together to magically give you a good start line.

  17. WP

    Nov 19, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    I personally find that having a line on the ball and my putter is A LOT worse than looking at no line/logo and a putter with a simple dot on top. I’ve tried the line technique and besides the fact that it never looks the same from a stance as it does when you aligned it, all the focusing on “lines” removes all feel from the process. Different strokes for different folks I suppose…

    • mike

      Nov 19, 2015 at 8:52 pm

      WP,

      I agree with you 100% I’ve used many putter with different sight line and none worked. This year i went to a putter with just a Dot. My putting has improved 90% went from a 13 hcp to solid 8 hcp. I don’t put any markings/lines on my ball it’s worked for me so far.

    • Kevin

      Nov 22, 2015 at 5:16 pm

      Use the line and trust it. Easier to aim the ball from looking behind and it’s a different perspective when you look down at it. Aim it and then trust that line!

  18. Sek

    Nov 19, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    What his putter model/Brand?

    Thank

    • Aaron

      Nov 19, 2015 at 6:38 pm

      Looks like a blacked out TM Spider mallet. Maybe their new spider mallet.

      • Sek

        Nov 19, 2015 at 7:18 pm

        Aaron…Thanks

        • Dylan

          Nov 20, 2015 at 9:32 am

          it’s a ghost tour monte carlo. all blacked out

          • golfpro92

            Dec 10, 2015 at 9:09 am

            It’s a spider mallet 2.0. Wish I knew where he got that finish done!

  19. Tom

    Nov 19, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Seems like it’s worth tryin.

  20. Steve

    Nov 19, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    Yes put a line on the ball, align it with the line on the putter, square shoulders, shaft inline with back forearm. Wow how do you think of this? This is going to change putting forever, all this new information.

    • dwc

      Nov 19, 2015 at 1:45 pm

      Come on man, don’t be that guy

      • prime21

        Nov 19, 2015 at 2:17 pm

        Too late, he WILL ALWAYS be THAT guy. Maybe someday Steve will bless us with an article that provides the secrets of golf, until then, he will simply remain the troll he is, waiting for an opportunity to unleash his attacks from his Mac, safely hidden from reality in his childhood bedroom where he still resides. Nice article Tom, EVERYONE could learn something from it.

    • Justin

      Nov 19, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      You missed the whole point. Did you read the title? It’s techniques for monitoring and figuring out if you are properly aligned. Most people don’t know what causes their shoulders to be open or closed or the causes of other faults.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Instruction

The 3 different levels of golf practice

Published

on

“I would have practiced as hard, but I would have made my practice more meaningful. I would have worked more on my short game and putting. I would’ve done a lot more drills to make the practice more meaningful, and I would’ve added pressure to the practice as much as possible.” — Lee Westwood

Now here’s the rub. Practice is not monolithic! I approach practice as having three different, distinctive and separate curriculum and criteria.

  • Level 1: Basic
  • Level 2: Advanced
  • Level 3: Extreme

Basic Practice (Level 1) by definition is “repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.” Basically, it’s doing the same thing over and over again to get better at it. My favorite skill that requires practice is the 76-yard “flighted wedge.” I do it, and I recommend it be done at every range practice session. Additionally, I identify and then practice as many different “skills” that are required to hit different golf shots. I have found that a non-pressurized environment is the best way to practice in a basic model.

It goes without saying that golf is not played in a pressure-free environment, so basic practice doesn’t help us play golf. The prime objective of Level 2 Practice (Advanced Training) is to take what you do in Basic Practice to the golf course.

First, create on-course situations that require you to hit the shots you have practiced. There should be rewards for demonstrations of competence, and there should be consequences for demonstrations of incompetence

“When you practice, try to find a situation to fit the shot you’re trying to practice.” — Ben Hogan

For example, a major problem is the unevenness of the lies you will encounter during play as opposed to the lies you used for your drills. From marginal to extreme, lies are difficult to replicate on the practice tee. So, play a round of golf and move the ball into the most undesirable lie that is very close to where you are.

Another example would be duplicating the creativity that is sometimes required during actual play. The prime example of that would be the sensation of “being in-between clubs.” I would suggest that you play an occasional round of golf using only half of your clubs. Take two wedges instead of four. Take only the “odd” or “even” numbered irons. Look at not taking the driver, or not taking all of your fairway clubs. I have not taken my putter, which forced me putt with my sand wedge!

A third example would be to play a round of golf and deliberately miss every green in regulation. Should your ball accidentally finish on the green in regulation just move it off into the rough, a bunker or whatever else could use the extra attention. You can create games where your opponent moves your ball off the green into something that would be advantageous to him.

Level 2 Practice is conducted on the practice ground as well as on the course. What I do and recommend is to take each of the shots, skills and drills used in Level 1 and add some accountability to the range experience. I have my students and clients use a “Practice Book” to schedule activities and to keep track of improvement.

Author Note: I will send you a sample practice book page that many of my players actually use. Request it at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

Please be advised that Level 2 Practice can feature games, wagering or other forms of friendly competitions because they should only activate the lesser emotions of irritation, annoyance, anticipation, anxiousness, joy, pleasure and disappointment. Dealing with these feelings in practice will help you recognize and deal with the minor stresses experienced by most recreational golfers.

Stress is the major cause of “CHOKING.”

Stress, by definition “is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Stress can ruin our ability to perform when we experience the major emotions such as fear, anger, shame, humiliation, euphoria, ridicule, betrayal, doubt and/or disbelief.

Level 3 Practice (Extreme Preparation) is on-course training sessions best suited for very serious competitive golfers. The more a player is able to compete in a simulated or controlled environment that accurately replicates the actual “pressures” that produce the kind of stresses that can effect performance, the better the player will perform when stressed in actual tournaments or events. Please be advised that Extreme Practice DOES NOT feature games, gambling or “friendly” competitions. They don’t control the conditions of play sufficiently to replicate the type of pressure that would induce “stress.”

“Simulation, which  is a technique (not a technology) to replace and amplify real experiences with guided ones, often “immersive” in nature, that evoke or replicate substantial aspects of the real world in a fully interactive fashion.” For many years now, the medical profession has used simulations to train doctors, the military has used simulations to prepare troops for the realities of the battlefield and aviation has used simulators to train pilots. Simulating has the added benefits of being cost and time effective while producing verifiable results.

If it’s possible for airlines to replicate every possible scenario that a pilot could experience in the cockpit by using simulations, then why isn’t it possible to replicate situations, and subsequent emotional responses, that a competitive golfer could experience on the golf course? Let me give you an example of what I mean.

“I got nervous all the time, as nervous as the next guy. It’s just that I caught myself before it became destructive.” Jack Nicklaus

Recent events at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play gives us some evidence of the destructiveness of uncontrolled emotions. Justin Thomas said that he couldn’t get the thought out of his mind of becoming the No. 1-ranked player in the world should he defeat Bubba Watson in the semi-finals, which he failed to do.

“I haven’t had such a hard time not thinking about something so much,” Thomas said. “And that really sucked. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, to be perfectly honest.”

Then there was Ian Poulter being told that with his win over Louis Oosthuizen he had earned a spot in this years’ Masters tournament only to be told 10 minutes before his next match that he had not actually secured the coveted invitation. With elation, joy and satisfaction jerked away and replaced with disappointment, and possibly anger, the Englishman went out and got whipped by Kevin Kisner 8 & 6!

I concede that Justin Thomas’ and Ian Poulter’s situations were so unique that simulation-based practice and preparation techniques may not have been available to them, but now they both must know that their performance was effected negatively by mental stresses. And with that knowledge they may want to get tougher mentally. Level 3 Practice does that!

Not all that long ago, I was approached by a PGA Tour veteran for some on-course, one-on-one training. He was experiencing severe “choking” in pressurized short-game situations. So I took him out on the course and we replicated the exact shots he had problems with in the past. He demonstrated that he could perform each and every shot in a stress-free environment. We went into a “low-stress” training environment and his performance began to suffer. Then, at his urging to get “real,” we went into a “high-stress” practice mode and he melted down. Without going into details, he became so angry that not only couldn’t he hit golf shots, he tried to run me down with the golf cart as he retreated to the safety of his car.

Now, that’s not the end of the story. A few hours later, after some soul searching, he apologized for his lack of self-control and acknowledged that he had recognized the early signs of stress growing internally as we worked. We went back out onto the course and got back to work.

Your Reaction?
  • 72
  • LEGIT7
  • WOW6
  • LOL1
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP2
  • OB1
  • SHANK14

Continue Reading

Instruction

Winning Ways: Here’s what it takes to become a winner in Junior Girls golf

Published

on

Every competitive golfer strives to win, and I want to help them achieve their goals. Recently, I wrote a story highlighting the statistics behind winning in junior boys golf, and how they can do it more often. Now, we set out to examine the data on winning in junior girls golf, and provide ways they can improve. The data is based on an analysis of tournament results from all events during the 2017 year from the Junior Tour of Northern California. We then asked stats guru, Peter Sanders, Founder of ShotByShot.com, to provide the stats related to the winning scoring numbers that we found. Finally, we discuss ways that juniors can practice building skills and work towards becoming tournament winners.

The Winning Scores

In 2017 the Junior Tour of Northern California held 26 tournaments with 850+ members. According to our data collection based on information available on the website, the average girl’s tournament course measured 6145 yards. The average winning score for girls was 146 (36 holes), or 73 per round. Ten of the 22 tournaments where won with scores of 144 or better and the low 36 holes total was a whopping 133! In the data collection we also collected the average 10th place scores girls. The average 10th place score for girls was 159 or 79.5.

The Winning Stats

We provided the numbers to statistics expert Peter Sanders. Peter’s company has been providing Strokes Gained analysis for golfers for the last 29 years. Peter is the founder of ShotByShot.com, a website that provides golfers at all levels with Strokes Gained analysis, pinpoints specific strengths and weaknesses and highlights improvement priorities. Since the launch of ShotByShot.com in 2005, Peter has collected over 317,000 rounds. Accordingly, Peter has agreed to share the numbers, below, for a typical female player who averages 73. There are two important points to consider when reviewing these statistics:

  1. In order to have a complete picture of the puzzle that is golf, one must consider the ERRORS, or lack thereof, that play such an important role in scoring at every level. Even the 650+ PGA Tour stats ignore these important miscues. Shot By Shot has included them in their analysis from the beginning and they are highlighted in the infographics below.
  2. The data provided represents only tournament rounds. As such it will primarily represent the high school and college programs that use ShotbyShot.com

Infographics Created by Alexis Bennett

The Winning Preparation

Junior girls are encouraged to use these stats as a benchmark against their own performance to determine where they might need to improve against the “typical 73 player.” After identifying gaps in their game, they can then create practice plans to help improve. For example, a junior might notice they have more 3-putts than the model. To improve, they could work put more time into practice, as well as playing games on the golf course like draw-back and 2-putt.

  • Drawback is a game where after your first putt, you draw the second putt one putter length away from the hole. This often changes a shorter putt (> 2 feet) to a putt of between 3.5 – 5 feet. This putts significantly more pressure on your putting.
  • You may also play Two-Putt, a game where when you reach the green, you (or your playing competitor) tosses the ball away from the hole. You must 2-putt from that spot to move to the next hole (even if it takes a couple attempts!).

Others reading this article might find that they don’t hit enough greens. Improving this area will require more consistent strikes, which may require further technical development and block practice, as well as working on the golf course. To start, I would recommend that every junior implement the yardage rule. The yardage rule works like this; figure out the distance to the very back of the green. For example, this number may be 157. Then figure out what club ALWAYS flies 157, which might be 6-iron. Then choose 7-iron for the shot. This way your best shot will not fly the green, your average shot will likely be in the middle of the green and your less-than-perfect shot will hopefully end up on the front of the green.

During practice rounds, play competitive games with yourself to sharpen your ability to hit greens. For example, if you normally hit 7 greens per round, in practice your goal might be 9. You would track your results over a month and then see your progress.

Beyond building individual skills, like hitting greens or working on putting, junior golfers need times to play competitive rounds on their home golf courses. Ideally, these rounds are played against other people with similar skills and done under tournament like conditions with consequences (loser buys winner a coke or cleans their golf clubs). Playing hundreds of rounds at your home golf course under these conditions gives you a unique opportunity to sharpen your game, learn your tendencies and build skills such as endurance and mental toughness. Most importantly, it teaches you to win and shoot under par!

Please also keep in mind building these skills may take months (or even years). In my own personal experience, when I set out to improve my birdies per round, it took nearly 4 months and 75+ rounds and significant practice to begin to see a change. Depending on your schedule and access to resources like a golf course and instructor, some changes might take a year or more. Regardless, don’t ever worry; building a solid foundation in golf will always lead to rewards!

Your Reaction?
  • 43
  • LEGIT4
  • WOW1
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK2

Continue Reading

Instruction

PNF Drills: How To Turn Onto The Golf Ball

Published

on

In this video, I share a great drill to help you turn onto the ball. This will help you rotate through impact.

Your Reaction?
  • 11
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW1
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP4
  • OB1
  • SHANK8

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending