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