In Part I, we discussed how the type of putter influences the stroke mechanics when it comes to speed/touch. Here, in part II, we will discuss how the type of putter influences our ability to get the ball to initially roll towards our target.
AIM AT ADDRESS
According to a study done by David Orr (www.orrgolf.com) which consisted of nearly 700 participants, ranging from the PGA Tour player to the 30 handicapper, here's what the results of their aim was from only 6 feet away (for right handed putters):
55% aimed left of the target
25% aimed right of the target
20% aimed at the target
Thus, 80% of the participants could not aim straight at the target from only 6-feet away.
THE IMPORTANCE OF AIM AT ADDRESS
I often get asked 'do you think all of the great putters aimed perfectly at the target at address?'
In fact, Loren Roberts has been shown to aim 2* left of the target at address. He then gets the face pointing at the target at impact.
Essentially, what Roberts does is make the PROPER AMOUNT of COMPENSATION on a CONSISTENT basis.
The issue most golfers have, even if they are a PGA Tour pro, is that they cannot make that proper amount of compensation or cannot do it on a consistent basis.
That's why aim at address is important, it does not force the golfer to make a big compensation with their stroke to get the putter face pointing at the target at impact.
I'll put it this way, I think if one were to give Loren Roberts a putter that he could aim square at the target, he would have to make some adjustments to his putting stroke since he is used to a putter that aims left of the target. But, I think he could make that adjustment wherease I think a golfer who goes from a putter they aim square to a putter that they mis-aim could not make those adjustments.
PUTTER PROPERTIES THAT AFFECT AIM THE MOST
Here's what I believe are the main ones:
- Putter Head Design
- Alignment Lines & Sight Dots
- Hosel Design
PUTTER HEAD, HOSEL AND LINES/DOTS DESIGN
The design and shape of the putter head, the hosel design and the lines/dots all can affect the way a golfer aims the putter.
This is something that Edel Golf focuses much of their effort on with their putters.
Since 80% of golfers cannot aim straight at the target, they idea is that when a golfer mis-aims, Edel fitters will try to fit them to a putter and gradually 'steer' their aim back towards the target.
For example, when I got fitted...I aimed right of the target. First, they worked to find a putter head shape that gets golfers to aim further left. Then they started to work on the hosel design that helps get golfers aiming left. Then they worked on the alignment lines and sight dots that gets golfers aiming more left. As the fitting went along, my aim gradually became less and less right of the target until they got me aiming at the cup.
REASONS FOR AIM BIAS TENDENCIES
From what I've been told, the reasons for aim bias has to do with where the golfer's eyes focus upon when they aim the putter.
A right handed golfer with a leftward aim bias (55% of golfers), tends to use the back part of the putter too much to aim the putter. This would be towards the cavity (for cavity back putters), away from the ball.
The rightwards aim bias golfers (25% of golfers), tend to use the front edge of the putter to aim.
Once again, I am a rightward aim bias golfer (25%). I am also left eye dominant, despite being right handed. There is a tendency for left eye dominant, right handed players to aim to the right. That's because their left eye is more over the leading edge of the putter and using that to aim the putter. The majority of right handed people are also right eye dominant. Which explains why the majority of right handed golfers have a left aim bias.
PUTTER DESIGN AND AIM BIAS
Here's some basics:
Head Design - Wider heads = more left. Thinner heads = more right. Thus, a Ping B60 model = more left, Ping Zing 2 model = more right. There are also factors like the topline and the shape of the edges of the putter head. But again, attributes that get the golfer looking more at the back of the putter head means the golfer will aim more left. Conversely, looking more at the front edge will get the golfer to aim more to the right.
Hosel - More offest = more left. Less offset = more right. Center shaft = more right. Same principles with where the golfer looks at the putter head to aim the putter apply.
Alignment Lines/Dots - On the cavity = more left. On the top line = more right. No dots or lines = more to the right.
Again, one does not *have* to have an Edel putter to aim correctly (or to putt well). But, I have 2 major issues with a lot of OEM Puters.
1. They have 'conflicting aim properties.'
Meaning, they'll have properties that tend to aim golfers very far to the right and other properties that will aim the golfer to the left. Like a Ping B60 model (aim left), with a center shafted design (aim right).
2. The wacky designs shapes
This is VERY important to understand.
According to the Karlsen and Nilssen study, what they found was that golfers who used mallet and high MOI putters actually THOUGHT that they aimed BETTER. But, in REALITY they were aiming it WORSE and they had more DISPERSION in their aim.
OEM's have created putters that are the perfect marketing product for them. They can create a high MOI putter and market it as a putter that rolls the ball better on mis-hits and that appears to the golfer to aim better, when it actually aims WORSE. Then when the golfer struggles with it, they wind up buying a new high MOI putter because they THINK they aim it better.
As one reader responded in Part I about how he feels he doesn't aim belly and long putters as well...I think it has more to do with the design of the putter head than length of the putter.
As Geoff Mangum has said, you want the shapes and lines to be relatively simple. The reason why I praise Edel putters is that the fitting focuses on your aim and you don't get those 'conflicting aim properties.' But, if you don't want to go the Edel route...figure out your aim bias and find a putter that has those type of aim attributes.
LOFT AND AIM
More Loft = aim bias more towards the left.
Less Loft = aim bias more towards the right.
However, this brings up another instance of 'conflicting aim properties' of a putter. Many OEM's may have a putter that has properties to aim the golfer more to the right, but then has a high amount of loft which forces the golfer to aim to the left.
Thus, if you play on slower greens and want more loft, remember that the extra loft will tend to move your aim left. So, you might want a putter with 'aim properties' that promote rightward aim bias enough so the extra loft just offsets it.
LIE ANGLE AND PUTTER LENGTH
I've gone over the facets that affect aim at address. Now I want to discuss the additional factors that influence the ball initially rolling at the intended target.
I feel the 2 main properties that we have not discussed are lie angle and putter length.
Here are 3 big influences that lie angle can have on the mechanics:
1. Where on the face the ball is struck
If the lie angle is too flat, the heel will stick up in the air. This will promote the golfer hitting the ball more towards the heel. Steve Stricker is one of the greatest putters in the world who employes this method.
Isao Aoki did the opposite, with the lie angle too upright and his toe would stick straight up.
Even if you miss the sweetspot by 1 dimple (0.14 inches), it will influence the initial direction. As far as mechanics go...
Toe up = wristy stroke, rightward aim bias
Heel up= swinging pendulum stroke, leftward aim bias
Of course, if the lie angle fits you...then you don't have to make a compensation.
LIE ANGLE AND STROKE PATH
Lie angle also tends to influence what type of stroke path the golfer will employ. The more upright the lie angle, the straighter the path will be. The flatter the lie angle, the more of an arc the path will be.
Thus, if you want to employ more of a straight back and straight thru stroke, you should want a more upright lie angle. If you are more comfortable with an arc in the stroke, go with a flatter lie angle.
I feel shaft length influences the type of stroke (wristy, swinging or push) and the stroke path (SBST, Arc, Inverted Arc). As far as 'getting the ball to initially roll towards your intended target', the type of stroke path influences your ability to hit the ball square on the sweetspot and to get the face to point at the target at impact.
I think with non-belly and non-long putters, the stroke path can vary. But, with the belly putter, the stroke path almost HAS to be an arcing path. That's because the putter is anchored against he belly.
With the long putter, the path almost has to be close to Straight Back and Straight Thru as one can possibly get it. This is due to the upright lie angle that goes with the shaft length.
Again, it's something to remember. If you feel comfortable with a SBST stroke, I wouldn't advise buying a belly putter that is compatible with an arcing stroke.
1. Getting the aim at address right allows us to get the face square at impact with less compensations in our stroke. Mis-aim at address, golfer has to make a compensation to get the face square at impact.
2. Wider putter heads = promote left aim bias. Thinner putter heads = promote right aim bias.
3. More offset = promote left aim biase. Less Offset = promote right aim bias.
4. Alignment lines in cavity = promote left aim biase. Alignment lines on top line = promote right aim bias.
5. Keep shapes and lines simple for best aim.
6. Mallet/High MOI putters fool golfers into thinking they aim better, but typically they aim them worse when the aim is measured with a laser.
7. More Loft = Left aim bias. Less Loft = right aim bias.
8. Upright Lie Angle = more SBST and swinging stroke.
9. Flatter Lie Angle = more ARC and wristy stroke.
10. Belly Putter promotes a noticeably arcing stroke
11. Long Putter promotes more of a SBST stroke.
12. A 'push' stroke with the trail hand is best at SBST.
PART III tomorrow