Is it Important to Start your Putts Where you Aim your Putter? November 07 2013

I asked this Question on twitter and Facebook as a poll type question limiting responses to Yes or No. Many wanted to be able to explain their answer but I tried to eliminate that and just get a Yes or No response. As of this writing, the poll has been out for about 4 hours and the results are 50 for No and 35 for Yes.

I find this very interesting as I think it goes to a philosophically different way of approaching things. Those differing thoughts revolve around “this is what the best players actually do” and “this seems theoretically logical”. I don’t know if that is what people are actually thinking but that’s just my guess on it. I was surprised at the evenness of those taking opposing views and it makes me wonder why there is such division on this seemingly simple question.

As I mentioned on Twitter and Facebook, I believe it is important to start your putts where you aim the putter. As you can see from the above results, I am in the minority. I think I understand the idea that the only things that really matter are target, starting line at the target and speed for that line but here’s why I fall on the side I fall on.

The main reason I think it is important to start the ball where you aim it is because it leads to more consistency in terms of read as it relates to look and aim. If a players reads identical putts from opposite sides of the hole differently and can make them, we know they have a situation where they aim it different than where they start it. To me, I think that this can cause conflict and doubt and a preference of one type of putt over another. The big question is can a player tell the difference between aiming 4 inches off the edge vs 8 inches assuming a 2 inch pull bias and a read of 6 inches? I think they can and I think this difference should be avoided.

One of the arguments for why it’s not important is that no tour player does it or that no player does it. Let’s talk about the first one first. I’m not sure it is appropriate to use Tour Players as the model for the best putters. Certainly the model for the best golfers but might be a stretch using them as the best putters. Recent papers have been trying to show that ball striking is more important than putting at the highest levels so that would certainly support not using tour players as the model for the best putters. If the papers are accurate, then Tour players are the best ball strikers as that weighs more heavily in their success. Quite fair to say they are the best putters among the best hitters.

The other piece of no one doing it is worthy of discussion as well. The thing I would like to see is do the best putters currently have a higher propensity to have an aim and start that are closer to each other than those that don’t. I think we would all agree that at some point the difference between aim and start would cause issues if it was too large. I’m curious where you all think that line is. What is the outer limit of aim and start difference that still allows for putting success as being defined by makes? I also think it’s fair to say that there is some range of aim and start that is not exactly starts where they aim that would be appropriate and depending on where that line was might change some people’s answers. With that being said, I don’t know who would be the best model for putting skill.

In a world where exact targets can be predicted to be accurate I think the ability to start the ball where you aim it will become more important especially for the reason I mentioned above about read conflict. It’s possible that only those that use a system for target prediction will work toward an aim and start harmony and I for one will be very interested to see what the future holds.

I know there are many out there that think it is completely unnecessary and I understand their viewpoints without accepting them. In my poll I originally limited responses to Yes or No. Please use the comment section below to expand on your answer if you wish to do so or to leave a comment about my thoughts above. Please consider sharing this as well to get as many opinions as possible on this very divisive issue.

Look forward to reading your thoughts.