Monday, November 23, 2009

AimPoint Golf Aim Chart Review

I have been talking about reviewing the AimPoint Golf 'Aim Charts' and I finally got them in the mail and started to try them out.

If you have ever watched a tournament on The Golf Channel and have seen a golfer where they show the line of the putt and where the golfer needs to aim (and they do it with amazing accuracy), that is AimPoint golf, which was created by Mark Sweeney.

Sweeney came up with this idea after watching a British Open on TV and noticing that all of the players in the tournament missed the same putt in the same fashion. So he wanted to come up with a way for golfers to actually understand WHERE to aim. Eventually he discovered that golfers need to be able to read greens, so they can eventually understand how to read their putt so they can eventually know where to aim.

The 'Aim Charts' help the golfer greatly with that. However, they only work on certain types of sloped putts and from 20 feet away. The good news is that is you understand the AimPoint green reading process, you can then understand where you have to aim on all putts, regardless of the type of slope or distance. Below is just one sample of AimPoint's 'Aim Charts.'

I have AimPoint's 'Pro Version' of the Aim Charts which show where to aim on greens with a 9, 10, 11, 12 or 13 speed on the stimpmeter.

In the example above, this shows where to aim on a green with a 10 stimp and with a putt that has either a flatter slope (1.5% slope) or an average slope (2.0% slope). With the aim charts that I have, it actually tells you where to aim on 'flat putts (1.0% slope), Flatter putts (1.5% slope), Average slope (2.0%) and Steep slope (2.5%). But since I don't want to give away the numbers, I just showed this pic where it shows the data for a green with a 10 stimp and for average and flatter slopes.

The first thing you need to do is find the 'Fall Line.' Here's a couple of videos by Geoff Mangum on finding the 'fall line.'

For more Geoff Mangum videos, click HERE.

Once you find the fall line and pace off your distance from the cup, you can use the Aim Chart....provided you're on a certain type of slope and you are no further than 20 feet from the cup.

The Aim Chart is based on a few things as well:

1. The number dictates the amount of inches from the edge of the cup you need to aim. So if a putt will break to the right and the number is '0', then you need to aim at the left edge of the cup.

2. This is for a putt speed of 12" past the cup. If you hit the ball harder than that, you will see less break than is stated in the Aim Chart. Hit it too soft, the putt will break more than is stated in the Aim Chart.

3. Provided you have the speed and the aim correct, this will have the ball drop dead center into the cup.

The thing about the Fall line is a putt at '1 o'clock' and a putt at '11 o'clock' will have the SAME AMOUNT of break, just one will break to the right and one will break to the left. The same with a putt at '3 o'clock' and a putt at '9 o'clock.' This is because they are the same distance away from the fall line.

The way the Aim Chart is designed, the numbers on the left side are where the golfer should aim the putter for a 'Flatter' slope putt (1.5% slope). The numbers on the right half side of the aim chart are for 'Average' slope putt (2.0% slope).

So, because 1 o'clock and 11 o'clock putts have the same AMOUNT of break, you have to use those numbers in conjuction with each other.

For example, let's say I'm on a green that has a stimp of 10 and the slope on the putt is about 1.5% ('flatter' slope). I also find that I am at the 3 o'clock position from the fall line and I am 15 feet away.

To find where I should aim, I have to find the 'flatter' slope numbers and find what is the equivalent of the 3 o'clock position. In this case, the flatter slope numbers are on the left side and the equivalent of 3 o'clock is the 9 o'clock numbers.

So, I look and see that the chart says '12.' Because I am at 3 o'clock, the putt will break to the left. So I now know that I need to aim the putter face 12 inches outside of the right edge of the cup.

Here's another example. Let's say I have a green with a 10 stimp and the putt has an 'average' slope of 2.0%. I am at the 11 o'clock position and I am 20 feet away. So, I have to look at the 'average' numbers on the right side half of the chart and find what is the equivalent of being at the 11 o'clock position (1 o'clock).

So when I look at the 'average slope numbers' at the 1 o'clock position (the equivalent of 11 o'clock), I find that from 20 feet away it's saying '14 inches.' Because 11 o'clock putts break to the right, I then need to aim the putter face 14 inches outside of the left edge.

The good thing is that the Aim Charts that I have are actually much easier to read than the Aim Chart in the pic above.

Here's the 'equivalents' of clock positions to the fall line:

1 o'clock = 11 o'clock
2 o'clock = 10 o'clock
3 o'clock = 9 o'clock
4 o'clock = 8 o'clock
5 o'clock = 7 o'clock

Again, the AMOUNT of break is the same from these positions, it's just that the direction of the break is the exact opposite. So 1 thru 5 o'clock breaks left, 7 thru 11 o'clock breaks right.

I find the Aim Charts and understanding how to read greens using AimPoint golf to be almost invaluable. One of the things Sweeney mentions is that golfers tend to have poor putting technique and poor aim because they have aimed at the wrong places for so many years. I found this to be very true as I saw my aim improve using my laser training aid just by understanding where to aim.

When I played in college I was an exceptional putter, but incorrectly aimed at the apex of a breaking putt. I also aimed my putter head usually off to the right of the target. Looking back now I believe my good putting was due to a very aggressive pace with the putt which flattened out the break and allowed me to make putts even if I didn't aim the putter high enough.

However, if you do start working with the Aim Charts you really need to concentrate on the speed because like I stated earlier, the data is for putts with a speed of 12" past the cup.

The charts conform to USGA rules, and cost $20. You can also get a regular version if you play greens that are slower than a 10 on the stimp. However, Sweeney only sells them to golfers who understand AimPoint's system of reading greens because like I stated earlier, the AimChart doesn't work on certain types of slopes. A

In order to get these, you will either need to participate in an AimPoint Green Reading clinic or you will need to watch one of his videos.

For Mark Sweeney's Green Reading clinic schedule, click HERE.

For one of AimPoint's certified instructors, click HERE.

You can also purchase a David Orr video with Mark Sweeney HERE (although I highly suggest getting Orr's Green Reading Basics video (watch first) along with the Green Reading 201' video).

I give AimPoint Golf my highest recommendation for any golfer and feel it is an absolute must for any serious instructor.



john said...

So, how's it been going with them? I highly recommend picking up a digital level to start training your eye to the slope. Breakmasteer is ok but you have to convert the numbers.

Rich H. said...

I've been using Sweeney's conversion chart with my Breakmaster. Sometimes I get too focused on the line and not enough focus on the speed. I'm realy looking forward to using them more because I think not only are they accurate and take the guesswork out of it, but I think the feedback should be a tremendous help. Provided you have the right read now you can tell if your aim was off and/or if you speed was off.

Geoff said...

Hi 3Jack! Nice explanation. I would caution golfers, however, that the real skill of reading putts comes from knowing how to perceive the fall line, how to control speed, and how to put those together in a way that allows the golfer to see the start line without a chart but naturally and instinctively. Charts like this are not at all new -- they were around at least in 1984 in HA Templeton's book, Vector Putting: The Art and Science of Reading Greens and Computing Break Dallas TX 1984). Here's what the physicist who wrote the article that the recent AimPoint(R) charts are based upon had to say: des: "Whether the results presented here would help a golfer improve their putting is debatable and, unfortunately, this author has not noticed any improvement in his game." A.R. Penner, The Physics of Putting, Canadian Journal of Physics, 80: 1–14 (2002), p 14. Plus, there's always that dreaded "rub of the green", isn't there?

Geoff Mangum

Jon Reehoorn - Men's Golf Coach said...

How were you able to obtain the aim charts? Have you been through the training?

Geoff said...

I have a question about whether the charts are "legal" in a USGA stipulated round. YOu write: "The charts conform to USGA rules." I doubt that, since anything that offers advise or assistance about how to play a stroke is illegal. The charts are different from yardage books because they suggest how much break to play with given touch. That ought to be against the Rules, as it surely is against the spirit of golf, and many similar aids have been ruled illegal already, including a sticker to add to a putter shaft to help plumb bob.

Erik J. Barzeski said...

Geoff, pretty much anything that's recorded or written prior to the start of a round is fair game. Pros on the PGA Tour graph the breaks of each individual green, after all - those are even more precise than a general chart.

Not illegal.

But that doesn't mean they're useful for anything more than helping to develop a feel. I can't imagine anyone pulling out a chart in the middle of a tournament round.

Geoff Mangum said...

Dear Erik,

Legal smegal. Who cares if the USGA says you can cheat. Golf is a game of skill. To someone who wants to use a chart to read a putt or use a smartphone computer app to calculate the break, I suggest: "If playing a game of skill is not your cup of tea, I suggest you shouldn't play golf." Golfer, clubs, ball, course. That's it.

Erik J. Barzeski said...

Jeff, that argument is fine, but you've gotta also take away yardage books and perhaps even vague maps of holes found on tee signs as well.

Clearly the most important skill is not hitting the ball with the speed, direction, crispness, etc. but simply one of eyesight.

Furthermore, a chart that says 4" outside the left edge will not help you if you've read the green as the wrong type, gotten the speed wrong, not read the slope properly, etc. and the putt is actually 2" outside right.

I've heard through the grapevine that you have a big problem with AimPoint in general, and I'd be curious to see your reasons laid out somewhere. As you know I bought and am reading through your stuff, so it'd be interesting to see what you dislike (and maybe what you like) about AimPoint.

Geoff Mangum said...


My problem with AimPoint is the usual problem with technology claiming the moon. This is not the first set of charts or even the best. All these charts use ASSUMPTIONS and the ones used by the AimPoint folks are a) not wise, and b) not real. That happens when dilletantes rush in ... The whole business of one person SHOWING another where to aim the putter is just a bad one, unless it is simply during practice. My problem is when the line gets crossed from practice to use in play.

As to use in practice, I think the AimPoint charts are a bit of a dumb way to teach. The real way is to explain how human perception works to integrate slope direction and steepness, surface speed, elevation change, ball position, distance, grain, wind, etc., in predicting the future actual breaking of the ball and what to make of that for start line and pace. AimPoint short-circuits that learning and substitutes a flawed set of assumptions wrapped in the "imperial robes" of pretentious science. Real science is about the perceptions.

As to the cheating, actually I regard yardage books as a cheat and so did the USGA until they caved in to widespread cheating. Caddie books with contour lines and fall lines and steepness measurements that are prepared and sold commercially, and Sky Caddie maps, I also regard as outright cheating when used during the tournament or even a handicap round. Golf is spelled S K I L L. Otherwise it's just mere exercise. Just because people like to cheat doesn't mean someone who values golf should go along with it.

So I think ALL serious golfers should regard AimPoint charts as goofy, flawed, and cheating when used in play -- I hope I'm not a lone wolf in what seems to me to be plain, honest respect for the game and for teaching and learning.

Erik J. Barzeski said...


First, apologize for the misspelling of your name in my previous comment. I was writing an email to a Jeff and some wires were crossed. I apologize.

Second, I wanted to respond to know that I've read your post and will need to give it more thought. I wanted to respond to say thanks for your thoughts and that it will take me some time to digest what you've said, but I appreciate that you took the time to respond.

Anonymous said...

Geoff, I've read that you've been teaching Tempeltons stuff for a long time, but you say AimCharts should be illegal and are "goofy". If that's true, why have you been teaching Templeton for so long. Sounds down right hypocritical.

Geoff Mangum said...

Templeton has a million better things than the charts, including many points about surface contour. I recommend you read a book and leave the "hypocritical" comments in your pocket until you take a look. I don't teach Templeton charts, and I disagree with a thing or two in Templeton as well, including his approach to delivery speed, which is a pretty critical point to the whole enterprise of putting. On the whole, however, Templeton is way way ahead of the AimPoint physics and perception issues about green reading and ball-surface interaction. It's astonishing how much territory he plowed all by himself. Every page has at least one interesting tidbit that is still largely unknown by golf teachers. If you read Templeton's book, you'd know why I praise it. Let me know when you read it so we can talk again.

John Graham said...


The whole illegal thing again? I had hoped that you would have found better way to help golfers.

Hopefully some day.


Geoff Mangum said...

Dear John,

I appreciate your allowing me to RESPOND. I'm not trying to preach, just sharing the "traditional" view about golf as opposed to the "get a low score somehow" crowd out there these days whenever asked. That's not the "illegal" thing again -- that's a "golf thing" without outside assistance of any kind once the round begins. Golfer, course, one ball, 14 clubs. That's it.


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However, if you go to the golf course without the help, you find yourself spending more time looking for his ball in the rough or fishing off the water hazards that really make a good game of golf. No need to feel frustrated, it happens to everyone about unless of course he started his career as a three-year phenomenon.

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