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Keep Your Eye Line Parallel to the Target Line

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It makes me incredulous that this topic is never talked about. I say never in the context that I have never seen anyone as good looking or smooth with the ladies as myself, but I know this mythical figure probably exists.

Apple fights in the monkey cage at the zoo are conducted with more civility than debates over inconsequential topics like how much forearm rotation Hogan had between P6 and P8, yet an extremely important and fundamental topic like eye line gets no play at all.

I will start with a question. What would you think about basketball players shooting free throws with their eyes tilted 45 degrees from the rim? Now, this might have been the cure for Shaquille O’Neal’s woes, but for most, it would be a complete disaster.

How many bad guys would a CIA sniper take out if his scope was not mounted parallel to the gun barrel?

One could say both of these questions seem rhetorical to the point of being ridiculous. I agree, so why then do hoards of golfers tilt their eye line as much as 45 degrees off the target line with barely a mention anywhere, or by anyone?

It boggles the mind in the same sense as why you park on a driveway and drive on a parkway.

Kenny-600x450

Kenny Perry

  • Bobby Jones, who “over rotated.”
  • Jack Nicklaus who tilted his head away from the target to trigger his back swing.
  • John Daly whose back swing scoffs at convention.
  • The mighty Monte Scheinblum, who won a world long drive title without enough muscle to bench press a sleeve of golf balls.
Monte-600x450

Your author

All of them kept their eye line parallel to the target line.

Even Kenny Perry, who lifts and basically turns his his entire back perpendicular to the target line, barely shifts his eye line a few degrees right and he is the extreme.

I see eye lines all day long that start as much as 45 degrees to the right. I can hear the minions of the morass saying, “So what?”

To put it simply, the arms and the turn of the body will follow where the eyes are looking and swing the club there. Without getting into a dissertation about all of the swing faults a poor eye line causes, let’s just look at two simple, common and easy to understand ones.

  1. The head starts tilted, so the right ear (right-handed golfer) is tilted too far toward the right shoulder. Guess what? The arms follow that line too far to the inside on the back swing. That tilt of the head makes it awkward to properly shift into left side, so the arms reroute over the top. Well folks, your two choices in that pattern are a slice, or your friends are going to make you feel like you are skeet shooting. “PUUUUUUULL!!!!!!!”
  2. The head and eye line start OK, but the head tilts to the right at the top of the swing because the golfer is trying to make a “full turn.” Assuming the body shifts and turns in the transition properly, the arms get trapped inside trying to follow the eye line. They fly out away from the body, the body stalls and the hands flip. Captain Hook.

This issue is extremely easy to fix and always pays immediate dividends. Put an alignment stick just outside the ball as a frame of reference. Get setup and put the club shaft you are holding on the bridge of your nose across your eyes and see where you are. If need be, change your head position until your eyes are parallel to that alignment stick. When you swing, make sure your eyes stay parallel to that stick. Have a friend help you out if need be.

I have yet to see one person who didn’t improve the path of their arm swing (on both the back swing and downswing) the very first time they fixed their head and eye line position.

For all those wanting to tell me sob stories about being old or inflexible: your back swing is too long. Shorten it and fix you eye line.

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For more insights and details on this article and Monte’s instruction go to rebelliongolf.com Monte is a former world long drive champion and Web.com Tour player.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Milhouse

    May 15, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    I totally disagree!

    Your neck does not have 180 degrees of range of motion. To put it another way, you cannot simply turn your head far enough to get your chin over your shoulder. You’ll be 15-20 degree short of this.

    So if you consider a full shoulder turn is important (which I think is a misnomer in the golf community since your “shoulders” do not move really, it’s your rib cage and torso that needs to turn 90 degrees, but I digress), then your head and eyes won’t be able to stay parallel to the target line. You’ll either turn your chest only 75-80 degrees in trying to keep your eye line parallel to your target line, or your eyeline, using your pencil on bridge of nose idea, will have to aim 20 or so degrees out to the right for your chest to have cleared out of the way and made a full 90 degree turn.

    I completely disagree with your premise and would argue that trying to keep your eyeline as you have defined it as being on a vertical plane parallel to the target line, would be MORE likely to cause a golfer to come over the top. In trying to keep the eyes parallel, a golfer is more likely to end up with his head ahead of the ball or at least on top of it. This will result in a swing path from out to in, across the ball.

    Taking the club back to the inside is an issue of trying to wind up around the body and hit the ball, not of the eyeline. Aim your sight line 45 degrees to right if you want – you can STILL take the club back on plane. But the causality you suggest is just incorrect and the sports analogies you make don’t parallel the point either.

  2. Jay

    May 13, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    I would really like to understand this concept. Do you have any pictures or videos to illustrate this? I know, especially on the driver, I tilt my spine (reverse K), tilting my head and my eye line away from parallel. Do I tilt my spine then tilt my head up straight again to keep my eyeline parallel? Please help. Thanks.

    • Monte Scheinblum

      May 14, 2013 at 11:07 am

      It doesn’t matter if you tilt your spine for a reverse K. The eyeline is still going to be down the target line if you do it correctly. It will just be pointed more toward the sky, but still on the same vertical plane.

      Lets say you had a pencil on the bridge of your nose with the eraser pointed down the target line. If you tilted your head away like Nicklaus, the eraser would point more toward ground and a Reverse K, the eraser would be pointed more toward sky, but still down target line and not well out to the right.

  3. STICKS

    May 10, 2013 at 1:38 am

    i dont understand fully and i realy want to

  4. STEVE ALMO

    May 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Excellent Monte! …AND ALIGNMENT TO TARGET!

  5. Steve Pratt

    May 7, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Good stuff, Monte!

  6. geoff duncan

    May 7, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    Great advice. I just hit a bucket and it works.

  7. John Kelly

    May 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    great advice. will take it to my next tournament!

  8. John Forster

    May 7, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Great article. I had never thought about my eyeline.

  9. Pingback: Latest GolfWrx article. | Monte Scheinblum's Blog

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Instruction

A Guide (Secret) to Better Putting

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Putting is a part of the game where we can all do small things to get better. You don’t have to practice 40 hours a week or have a stroke that gets a perfect score on a SAM PuttLab. The universal answer is to simplify the approach as much as possible.

While being a world class putter is an art form, being competent at putting is probably the least physically daunting task in golf — aside from maybe driving the cart. Putting generally provides the most stress and frustration, however, as our results are almost never aligned with our exceptions, which drives us to create unnecessary roadblocks to success.

That being the case, let’s narrow this down to as few variables as possible and get ourselves holing more putts. First off, you need to have proper expectations. If you look at the PGA Tour averages for made putts, you will find that the rates of success overall are far lower than what we see on on TV on Sunday afternoon. That’s because we are seeing the best players in the world, who in a moment in time, are holing putts at a clip the average plus-handicap club champion couldn’t dream of during a near death experience on his way to walking into the light.

If you have ever seen golf balls rolled on a stimpmeter ramp (the device used to measure green speed), you have probably seen something shocking. Golf balls rolling perfectly — the perfect speed, on a perfect green, on a perfectly straight putt — sometimes miss on both sides of the hole on consecutive efforts.

This is a very important point. The farther you get from the hole, the less control you have over making the putt. That’s why actually making putts outside a few feet should not be your priority. Hitting the best putt possible is your only priority. Then be resigned that the putt will either go in or it won’t. This might seem defeatist, but it’s not; its just a perception change. If you judge yourself on whether the ball goes in or not, you are setting yourself up for failure. If you judge yourself on whether or not you hit a good putt, you will be more successful… and you’re going to make more putts.

This sounds like something you’d hear at a Tony Robbins positive thinking seminar, but it has proven successful for every one of my clients who has embraced it. So what’s the secret to hitting the best putt possible each time?

Simplify the process.

  1.  Read the green to the best of your ability.
  2.  Pick a line and do your best to set up to it.
  3.  Do your best to hit the putt solid and at the right speed.

Reading the green is something that gets better with experience and practice. Some will be better than others, so this is an intangible thing that countless books are written about. My advice is simple; DON’T OVER THINK IT. Look at the terrain and get a general sense of where low point is in relation to the hole.

The reason why perfect green reading and perfect alignment are overrated is because there is no one line to the hole. The hole is over 4-inches wide and putts break differently with changes in speed and solidness of contact. I saw a video at the Scotty Cameron Putting Studio many years ago of dozens of PGA Tour players. There was a worm’s-eye camera on a 4-5 foot putt that was basically straight on the artificial grass. Few were aimed at the middle of the hole and many weren’t even aimed at the hole at all… but I didn’t see one miss.

So have a look at the terrain and be decent at lining up in the general direction that will give a chance for a well struck putt to go in or finish close enough for a tap in. Simple. After rambling on for several paragraphs, we get to the heart of how you can improve your putting. Narrow it down to doing your best to hit a solid putt at the right speed.

The “Right Speed”

I ask people after they addressed a putt how much attention they pay to line and speed. Any answer but 100 percent speed is wrong. You’ve already read the putt and lined up. Why is line any longer a variable? Plus, have you ever missed the line on a 20-foot putt by 5 feet? Maybe once in your life on a crazy green, but you sure as heck have left it 5-feet short and long on several occasions.

Imagine I handed you a basketball and said shoot it in the basket. Or what if I told you to toss a crumpled piece of paper into the trash? Having the requisite coordination is an acquired skill, but you wouldn’t grind over innocuous details when it came to the feel of making the object go the right distance. You’d react to the object in your hand and the target for the right speed/distance.

Putting is no different, save one variable. There’s the sense and feel of how the the green interacts with the ball, and that’s a direct result of how solidly you hit the putt. If you use X amount of force and it goes 18 feet one effort and 23 feet the next, how are you ever going to acquire speed control? That is the mark of almost every poor lag putter. They don’t hit putts consistently solid, so they never acquire the skill of distance control.

Since speed is a learned reaction to the terrain/target and consistency is a direct result of how consistently solid you strike the ball, that is what we’re left with.

Learn to Hit Putts More Solid

The road to better putting is as simple as hitting your putts more solid. Put most/all of your effort into what it takes to hit more putts solid. Now for each individual, it’s less about doing what’s right. Instead, it’s about avoiding movements and alignments that make it difficult to hit the ball solid. It would take an encyclopedia to cover all of the issues that fall into this category, so I will list the most common that will cover more than 90 percent of golfers.

The most common one I see — and it is nearly universal in people who are plagued by poor lag putting — is excess hip rotation. Sometimes there’s even an actual weight shift. Think of it this way; take a backstroke and stop. Rotate your hips 20 degrees without moving anything else. The putter and the arc is now pointed left of your intended line. You have to shove it with your arms and hands not to pull it. Good luck hitting it solid while doing all of that.

I had a golf school in Baltimore and told this story. Ten of the 15 people there assured me they didn’t do that. After 8 people had putted, we were 8-for-8. No. 9 said, “There is no ******* way I am going to move my hips after watching this.”

The entire group laughed after his putt told him he was wrong. The last 6 did everything they could to avoid the fault. We went 15 for 15. Many people are unaware that this issue is so dire. If you add the people that are unaware they have this issue, we are near 100 percent of golfers. I have gotten emails from 8-10 of them telling me how much their putting improved after all they did was focus on minimizing hip rotation and just hitting the ball solid.

This issue is not just the bane of average golfers; I’ve had several mini-tour players with putting issues improve with this. We are all aware Fred Couples would have won many more majors if not for a career-long battle with his putter. Watch the next time he misses a 6-foot putt to the left. As you will see, it’s not just a problem for a high-handicappers.

The best way to judge and practice avoiding this, it putting with an alignment stick in you belt loops.  If your hips rotate too much, the stick will definitely let you know.

Other issues include the well know chest/sternum coming up too soon in an effort to see the ball go in the hole, as well as:

  • Not aligning the putter shaft properly with the lead arm
  • Grip pressure issues (too much and too little)
  • Too much tension in neck and shoulders
  • Poor rhythm
  • Long back stroke

I could go on and on and on. The main point; find out why you aren’t hitting putts solid and do whatever it takes to do so, even if it’s something crazy like a super wide-open stance (with my tongue firmly implanted in my cheek). See the Jack Nicklaus picture at the top of the story.

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Instruction

WATCH: How to Improve Your Golf Club Release

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Many golfers release the club way too early. The low point of the swing moves back and they hit the ground behind the ball or pick the ball clean off the top of the surface. They then dream of “lag” and the “late hit” trying to achieve this by thinking of holding on the the wrist angle too long.

In this video, I share a drill that it will improve the way you release the club.

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Instruction

Alistair Davies: My 3 Best Swing Tips

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In this video, I share with you my three best swing tips. Watch the video to get on the path to lower scores straight away.

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