Thursday, April 21, 2011
Many of my readers have gotten into the AimPoint green reading or are joining up for clinics. Here’s some things that I have experienced with AimPoint.
1. Determine the Stimp
This should be the first priority and going to the pro shop usually will not help. One course down in Florida tells me that they have a stimp of ‘9-10’ and they are more like an 8 and maybe a touch slower than that. If you have the AimCharts, you can see where the differences in break between an 8 stimp and a 9 stimp are vastly different. Plus, determining the stimp is a good way to practice AimPoint.
2. The Routine is H-U-G-E
I think this is what trips me up the most and when I get it down well, I usually putt much better. I think it takes a lot of practice to get the routine down. Early on I would botch the routine and either screw up the read or the speed of the putt. I’ve even had times where I read the AimChart incorrectly.
My routine looks something like this (we’ll assume for a planar slope)
- Find the low and the high anchor point
- Estimate if I’m below the cup or above the cup
- Estimate the amount of slope.
- Once the amount of slope is determined, place my thumb on the chart where the slope is.
- Keep the thumb on the slope of the chart while I determine the distance to the cup
- Keep the thumb on the slope of the chart while I determine the style of slope
- If planar slope, now determine where the ball is with relation to the fall line or the anchor
- Once that has been determined, look at the chart where my thumb is and determine the read
- Keep the number in mind, go thru the practice stroke routine, aim and fire.
3. Start to See How You Used to Putt
My theory was when I was in college and putted great, I had a putter that fit my eye pretty well and I used to play less break and hit it harder. In fact, the greatest putter I ever played with did the same thing. So did Tiger. But that narrowed the ‘capture width’ of the cup. I think one can putt well that way as I did and so did Tiger and my friend, but to do it consistently well over time takes extraordinary repetition and precision. I also used to have a right aim bias, but would putt left-to-right putts better (which is unique for a right handed golfer). My guess is that with the right-to-left putts, I aimed too high and hit hard so the ball wouldn’t come close to breaking enough.
4. Old Green Reading Theories….suck.
Particularly the theory that you ‘should never aim straight at the cup because every putt breaks.’ Putts almost always have break to them, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim at the cup. In fact, I find that extremely helpful on double breaking putts and triple breaking putts. Furthermore, sometimes you have to accept that you are on the fall line. Doesn’t happen a lot, but it can. But with the double and triple breakers, you’ll find yourself aiming at the cup from time to time. Convincing yourself is sometimes the issue because of stupid, old green reading theories. And it will tick you off because aiming at the cup is easier than aiming outside the cup.
Oh yeah, other dumb theories like plumb bobbing, crouching to read the green, the ‘putt breaks towards the mountain or the pond’…ugh.
5. Trusting it is also H-U-G-E
This goes with #3 and #4. For starters, years and years of playing too little break and hitting it harder make it difficult to trust that you need to play more break. If you think that you’re playing too much break, you’re probably hitting it too hard to begin with. Very difficult to trust it on those 10 foot putts on a steep (3%) or severe (4%) slope.
Also, telling yourself that you need to aim at the cup is difficult due to all of those years of being told NOT to aim at the cup. That and the concept of aiming straight, but the ball will not roll straight seems foreign.
6. If you are aware of the feedback, you should be able to improve your putting stroke.
It helps that I have an Edel Putter that fits my eyes and I now aim relatively straight. When I was at the AimPoint clinic instructed by John Graham (www.johngrahamgolf.com), there was a fellow student who would aim left, and then push the ball. Or as John referred to it, a ‘left aim pusher.’ Now that I aim pretty straight, I still have some of the old tendency to pull it. That’s because I was a ‘right aim puller’ before the Edel putter. Now I am an occasional ‘aim straight puller.’
It’s all feedback. I think if one combined this with some occasional video taping of the stroke, they could understand if they have an aim bias and if so, what type of aim bias they have.
7. I look forward to Uphill, Planar putts
As I discussed with the Golf Strategy posts, there’s a large advantage to leaving yourself with uphill putts because the ball will wobble less and stay on line better. Also, the break is typically less. Another factor is if you are say, 40 feet away, but within reasonable distance from the low anchor point, the read is very simple and the putt is easier to execute because of the lesser amount of wobble. That doesn’t mean a 40 foot putt will automatically go in or you’ll start making them left and right. You still have to aim correctly from 40 feet, which is not easy to do and have the right amount of speed. But, I think you increase your odds of making it by a lot and your chances of having an easy tap in for a 2-putt are much better than if you had a downhill putt. I honestly think that it’s safe to say that in many instances I’d take a 40 foot putt uphill over a 20 foot putt to the same cup that is downhill. Even if the slope is at 2%, which is average.
8. Low Anchors Are Not Easy to Read Perfectly
Finding the lowest point on the green is not easy to read 100% accurately. Sometimes I’ll be about 5 feet off. However, if I really look, Look, LOOK and feel, Feel, FEEL, I can become more accurate. Furthermore, if I am 5 feet off and aim at the cup…if I have decent speed I’m usually tapping in for a 2-putt. That certainly beats not understanding the anchor point and play for break that isn’t quite there and missing by a mile.
9. Practice Off The Green Can Help
One thing I’ve been practicing is when I’m walking somewhere, let’s say a street, I’ll try to feel if the slope I’m on is going down or up. I also will take a piece of paper and make it into a crown or saddle slope and pace my fingers around it in a circle to understand what it will feel like when I’m on the course and I am trying to read the type of slope.