Most flaws in a players’ stroke can be traced back to poor body alignments, faulty aim, or a combination of both. Too often I see amateur golfers practicing their putting, but paying little attention to the details of their setup and aim that can affect their stroke. Run through this checklist and make sure that you have a sound setup that will allow you the ability to get the ball started on line.
Eyes – Often a forgotten element, the positioning of the eyes has a critical role in how we see our line, aim our putter, and execute our stroke. The eyes should be positioned directly over or slightly inside the ball, parallel to the the target line, and perpendicular to the ground. If your eyes are too far inside the ball your aim will tend to the right of the target and the stroke will swing too far to the inside, often causing pushed putts. Conversely, if your eyes are outside the golf ball, your aim will tend to the left and the stroke will have a tendency to swing outside/in, causing pulled putts (second photo). If your eye line is skewed to the right or left of the target line, rather than parallel to it, both your aim and stroke will favor that direction. My best advice is to get one of the many mirror type putting aids that will show you where your eyes are positioned.
Body – Gone are the days of the homemade stances and postures on tour. Watch a telecast today and you will see a more square, homogenous look in putting stances, regardless of the putter used (short, long, or belly). Position your feet, knees, hips, and shoulders parallel to the target line with your forearms parallel to each other. With your body aligned more square to the target line, your putter has a better chance of moving down the line at impact. In the first photo you will see the feet and hips are open, making the right forearm higher. This will force the stroke to move from outside in, causing pulled putts.
Aim – This may be a little difficult to check on your own, so have a playing partner confirm your aim. If your aim is too the right, the tendency will be to swing to the left or close the face excessively. The opposite will be occur with a left aim. Both instances introduce variables in the stroke that are difficult to compensate for repeatedly. Once you have shored up your alignments, pay attention to your routine. Aim the putter head first before setting your body.
If your putting performance has been deteriorating lately, take a close look at your setup and aim. A slight adjustment may just be all you need to get your stroke back on track and start seeing more putts go in the hole.