Almost every one of my students asks for help in aiming their putts. That's good advice to seek, because improving your aim is the key to making more putts. We've been testing how people aim putts for years at the Pelz Golf Institute and we've learned a few things that will get your putts on the right track.
• Focus on the starting line of the putt. In test after test, we found that the better your initial aim, the less you will have to compensate in your stroke to pull or push your putts on-line. Fewer compensations lead to better contact and more made putts.
• Draw two lines on your ball to help your aim. Draw long lines rather than short ones, and use red marker rather than black because red is easier to see. Drawing two lines rather than one helps to form a wider alignment aid. We tested various combinations, and two long red lines led to the best performance.
• Think hard about getting a new putter. Our test subjects aimed two-ball and three-ball putters most accurately. When converging red lines were added to the tops of these putters, our test subjects aimed them even better.
Based on these test results, here's what I suggest: Draw two parallel red lines around your ball, then two curved, converging red lines on the top of your putter. (In our schools, we use Pelz O-balls which are shown above.) Make sure the lines on your ball match up with the lines on your putter and that they are perpendicular to the clubface. Practice for at least 10 minutes before you try it on the course. The modifications should help improve your aimand they conform to USGA rules.
It's important to keep working on your aim even after you see initial improvement. Some of the best putters I knowTiger, Phil and Justin Leonard among them continually check their putting aim to make sure they're not falling into bad habits. You should do the same.
Avoid the common fault of aiming too low and missing your putt below the hole. Go to a practice green and pick out a left-to-right-breaking 15-foot putt. Once you take your initial read, pick out a spot even with the hole that is twice as high as the apex (highest point) of the break. You should aim your putter there in order to play enough break and have a chance to make the putt. Now go back out on the course and picture twice the break you normally play to aim high and score low.
For more information on Dave Pelz's Scoring Game Schools, clinics and learning aids, go to pelzgolf.com or call 888-DAVE-PELZ.