Putting is a combination of two things: speed and aim. You’ve heard it before, and it will never change.
Let’s take speed out of the equation (wish I could in real life too!). Let’s focus on aiming in this article.
Aiming a putter is a lot harder than most people think. Think about the number of times you have seen the line perfectly when standing behind your ball, standing towards the hole. You might pick out a spot to hit (if you are a spot putter) or maybe visualize a line (if you are a line putter) leading to the hole.
Everything just looks right… until you actually get over the putt and everything changes. Now, the spot you picked out looks way off line, or the line you originally visualized is very hard to imagine anymore.
This is due solely to the fact that our eyesight is very different and at a much different angle when we are over the putt.
Your putter’s lines or dots will have an effect on where you think you are aiming, though. That’s what this article is going to be about.
Depending on a lot of things – notably your eye dominance, your putter’s alignment aids, your technique at visualizing the putt’s movement – your aim can vary drastically without you realizing it.
Everyone will react differently to a different putter style. Subconsciously, the putter you are currently using might be hindering a good, loose, fluid putting stroke. Plus, it never hurts to get a different look over putts. Heck, I’ve made 5 or so putter changes over the past 5 years, and I always love the look and feel of something new (to me).
I’ll go ahead and tell you my thoughts ahead of time. I think everyone needs to try out (at least) all three different types of putters and test how well you can aim to their target with each one. They will all take some getting used to, so don’t expect it to be a quick process. I’ve listed below how you can try out each style without buying a new putter each time.
The three types of putters, in this case, are described below, with some examples and recommendations for each category.
This is the large majority of putters. You know the kind. They have lines on the topline of the putter or on the flange (bottom) of the putter.They can be blades or mallets. It might have one line, it might have 4 lines, doesn’t matter.
The putter causes you to use those lines to try to line up where you are aiming. I’m going to include putters with perpendicular lines in this category, for sake of simplicity. Many find that when using a sight line putter, they tend to try to “force” a more straight back, straight through putting motion due to the straight lines pointed to the target.
They don’t want to force the line to point right in the backstroke and then left of the target after contact. Not everyone feels this way, but many do. Many even do so unintentionally due to the sight lines.
As a result of this, it tends to tense some golfers up, at a time when tension hurts you to most. If you want to free your putting stroke up more, I’d recommend switching to a sight dot or naked putter.
My favorite sight line putters are simple Odyssey #1 or #7 putters, depending on what fits your eye better.
Pros: some find using the sight line to extend the line that they visualize on the green is the easiest way to aim.
Cons: can discourage you from making a natural arc in your putting stroke; can bog you down with distractions and tense you up
These slick looking putters, usually blades instead of mallets, have a single dot on the topline of them. I think they are great for focusing solely on making solid contact on the putter face. In my experience, those with sight dot putters have a much more natural arc to their putting stroke, as they are not afraid of opening the face in the backstroke. Overall, I think sight lines putters are extremely underrated and underutilized.
They encourage a more fluid motion and focusing on hitting the dead center of the face. If you find yourself missing the center of the face, either hitting it off the toe or on the heel, then you know how much it affects your putting.
Some actually find that by using a putter with a sight dot instead of sight lines, they can aim more accurately by simply using the topline. People with sight dot putters are typically less stressed about having the putter 100% perfectly aligned at the target before starting their putting motion, as they rely slightly more on athletic ability and timing when they make contact.
One idea to try this out is to take one of your current putters and put something (paper, sticker, etc) over it and then put a small dot on the top of the putter. No need to go out and buy a sight dot putter before you even know if you like it or not. Personally, I took an old, grey odyssey putter, put tape on the flange of the putter to cover up the sight line, and then added a black dot with a sharpie to try out a “sight dot” putter.
The two best sight dot putters, in my opinion, are Nike Method 001 and a Scotty Cameron Newport 2 with a sight dot (if you can afford one).
Pros: many find that a sight dot putter frees up their putting stroke more, encouraging a natural arc; allows you to focus on making centered contact on the putter.
Cons: definitely takes some time to get used to, when changing from a sight line putter; hardest to find
Oooooh yeah, naked putters! Feel a little naughty just from reading that? That’s okay, most people have never heard the term before when it comes to putters.
It simply means a putter that doesn’t have any sight lines or a sight dot on the putter. I think it is a very pleasing look at address, as you are not bogged down by anything at all and you can swing more freely. I wouldn’t recommend a naked putter unless you are very consistent at hitting putts on the center of the face, though. Otherwise, you might find yourself missing the center more often than you realize and come up short on a good bit of putts.
If you find yourself getting very stressed or tense over putts, this might be the best fix for you. A naked putter will free up up for sure. The only way to aim is to use the topline as a reference, lining it up perpendicularly to your target line/spot.
Many people actually find that this is the most successful approach for aiming where you truly think you are. Our minds are very good at using 90 degree angles to line things up. I’d definitely suggest that you at least give it a try to see how you like it. It takes some time to get used to for sure, but I definitely found that it freed my putting motion up by not having anything to distract me.
One way to do this, which is what I did, is to take one of the putters that you have now and just tape something over it. For example, I had a black odyssey putter and just taped a piece of black paper over it so that it was essentially naked. It actually worked very well for what I was trying to accomplish.
My absolute FAVORITE naked putter of all time is my Wilson 8802 Milled putter. I can’t get enough of it.
Pros: No distractions at all. Rely on natural instinct and feel.
Cons: Rely on natural instinct and feel 🙂 Might find it difficult to consistently hit the middle of the putter; hard to find