Are you one of those golfers that can walk up to a shot and just use your eyes to look at your target and automatically know you are aligned? No? Me neither!!
In reality I don't know if a golfer exists where their eyes don't deceive them to some extent. While this is also true for full shots (which is why the pre-shot routine you almost always see a pro use involves drawing a line with his club through the ball and target and identifying a spot on the ground to align the clubface with), this article is for putting.
I discovered early on that my putter was aligned right of target even though it looked straight. I had a choice to make; either try to make two wrongs equal a right or fix the problem. My discovery was reinforced when I saw a Golf Magazine compendium of articles in a grocery store of all places. One of the first article in there was I think written by David Edel for Edel putters. The article had images of many putter heads on the same page. As I looked at the images I noticed that some definitely looked crooked (they were all aligned perfectly vertical on the page!) while others looked pretty straight.
Edel pointed out that there are a number of factors that affect your perception of straight as it comes to a putter. Some of these factors are the shape of the head, the alignment markings, the hosel shape, the amount of offset, etc. In other words, if you don't have the right combination for you, what you think is straight to your eyes may not be straight. You can check this with a laser as many putting fitters do.
I went to an Edel fitter about 10 years ago to try to get a putter to "correct" my perception. It wasn't totally successful maybe because I am an engineer and think too much!
In order to putt well you need 3 things:
- Good read of the greens to know where your target should be
- Be able to start your putt on the correct line
- Hit the putt with the correct speed
I attempt to eliminate any issues with respect to the second item by aligning the ball ProV1X label arrow to my target. I am able to get low to the ground and verify my alignment using the putter shaft as a straight edge and hover it over the alignment arrow to verify it is correctly aligned. This allows me to know that I am starting the ball on the intended line a very high percentage of time as all I have to do is stroke down that line. You should do this also. Have you noticed that most of the pros do this also? I have read that you can try to "retrain" your eyes by repetitively aligning with an aid such as the lines in your bathroom tile assuming you have a 10-15 length of tile in your bathroom to practice with. But I found that my approach is easier. Wouldn't you want to take the easy way to address one of the three putting needs above. After reading this article you should now agree that your eyes lie to you too!
I confess! I am an avid golfer. I also play left-handed. Since I now manage the National Association of Left-handed Golfers website, I thought I would start a Blog...this blog! What will I have to say? Stay tuned and find out.