Ever wondered how much alignment affects your putting? We spoke to an expert to find out
It’s so easy to blame your putting stroke when a short putt slips by the edge of the hole, but have you ever thought about just how much your alignment affects the start line of your putts?
When it comes to putting in golf face angle and alignment is the biggest factor affecting if your putts start on line. In fact over 90% of the direction of the golf ball is down to the face angle at impact. If you can’t line your putter up correctly at address, what hope do you have of it being square at impact?
Face angle is so crucial that a putter that is 2 degrees open at impact will miss the hole from as little as five feet. When we get out to 15 feet the putter needs to be less than 0.5° open or closed for you to hole the putt. Can you tell the difference between a club face which is square, 0.5°, 1°, or 2° open or closed?
Alignment is very individual, so it’s important to test different options out. I spoke to Bill Price, the senior director of putters at TaylorMade, to find out what helps different golfers line-up the best.
“Generally golfers fit into two different categories,” he explains. “Those who use a line and those who don’t.
“When you look at tour players, it’s all over the board, right? Small lines, long lines, dots, three dots, normal alignment. They have the luxury of coming in here and seeing what happens and what does change.
“I use a lot of research from our sports university, about our eyes and what we see and what happens. What I’ve learned over the years with putters is [as] players, we are either in two buckets – we’re either linear or nonlinear.
“A linear person, in the way they think and the way they’re structured, they like to see lines. A line on a ball, a line on a putter, and they try and put them together. A linear person works extremely well that way.
“A nonlinear person, works on feel. It’s like throwing darts. You’re not watching this dart back behind you. You’re looking at the target and you’re letting the reactionary of the arm throw that dart to the board.
“Putting is very similar to that. It’s reactionary. We see the line, we feel the line and we see the hole and we let it go.
“I see more of an emergence of putters that come out of our putter lab with no lines on. They use a line on their ball and no line on their putter. They make a T, there’s a line on the ball and the face of the putter, [so] there is a target that they can line up better. Those are the players that I generally see that are more in that feel category.
“I had this conversation with all the best players in the world. Rory, DJ, Bob MacIntyre, Justin Rose and Jason Day.
“I asked the question, who’s feel and who is linear? I had one guy that was linear. Then I said do you use a line on a ball? And it was kind of a cluster of different answers. ‘Yeah, I do.’ And, ‘I don’t.’ And ‘I go back and forth.’ And so do you have a line on your putter?
“What the research does say is the linear person loves lines. If you’re a nonlinear person, I’ll give you a line on the ball or the putter, but not both. That’s going to help your brain that’s how your brain is wired.
“How many times do you see a player, and they’re trying to line up the ball line and the putter line and they’re crooked? You stand behind them and you go, ‘Is that lined up with the line on your ball?’ [They say,] ‘Yeah.’ And it’s not. Those are players that are that are feel players but they’re trying to get two lines to match up.
“DJ and Jason Day, said the same thing: ‘I prefer no line.’ And because we get so tight into this, that it affects their distance control. They forget. They’re spending all this time trying to get these lines to line up, that they’ve all of a sudden forgot a very important part of putting which is distance control and feeling that putt.
“But it’s not just lines that help you aim straight. Contrast is also important for alignment and that often comes down to colour.
“Red was kind of interesting because it offered a lot of contrast. So certain contrast is very helpful, especially with a white ball and a red putter.
“So we brought back red again. It’s been very successful. Probably our number one colour on tour. We’re handing out a lot of red putters and I think the contrast of white and red is alive and very strong for those players, they like the contrast there.”
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