I’m an engineer, so I approach all of my problems with an analytical mind. Success in golf is really dependent on emotion, feeling and tempo but putting is the only component of golf where an analytical process will save you a lot of grief. If you can’t see THE CORRECT SLOPE of the green, you will never improve your putting. Using your putter as a plumb-bob to see the direction of the break is an easy solution. Jason Rose, Rickie Fowler and many other pros do it and you should too.
To speed up your game, NEVER USE your putter as a plumb-bob to measure the slope of a green:
1/ If you can see an obvious direction of the slope of the green (don’t waste time for your foursome)
2/If there are 2 or more brakes in your planned putting line.
3/ If you have NOT calibrated your putter (to adjust for: dominant eye, putter head and tapered shaft.)
GRAVITY is the only perfect measuring tool that you can count on. Your ball is pulled by gravity to follow the slope of the green and your putter is a great measuring tool to tell you which way your putt will break. Its not legal to use a measuring aid like a weight on a string as a plumb-bob but you can use your putter as a plumb-bob the way many pros do.
Calibrate Your Putter: Every putter will hang at a different angle from your fingers because there are different shapes, weights and offsets for the head for every putter. Your dominant eye will also play tricks on your vision. Do this calibration test in your home by dangling your putter by 2 finger from the top of your grip. Line up the left or right side of your putter shaft (below the grip) with a straight floor tile grout line or board line on your floor (or door frame). Call this your TARGET LINE.
a. Turn the putting face plate to point at your TARGET LINE.
b. Close one eye to see the line-up of either side of your putter shaft with the TARGET LINE.
c. Then repeat with your other eye to determine which eye and which side of the putter shaft lines up best with your TARGET LINE. [i.e. I use my right eye and left side of my putter shaft.] Write down your findings. You could even mark it on your putter grip with an arrow.
How to Read the Slope of a Green (BEWARE: This only applies to the slope directly under your feet as the slope may change along your target line.)
1/ Stand a few paces behind your ball directly in-line with the hole.
2/ Hold the end of your putter grip with 2 fingers, your arm in front of you and the putter face plate pointing at the hole (exactly the same as you did for the calibration).
3/ Line up the lower half of your putter shaft on your calibrated side of the shaft to line up with your ball.
4/ If the top end of the calibrated side of your putter shaft lines-up to the right of the hole, then you have a right to left breaking putt. If the shaft lines up to the left of the hole then you have a left to right breaking putt.
KEY CONCERN: Your putt will break more as it slows down near the hole, so measuring the direction of the slope FROM BEHIND THE HOLE AND FACING YOUR BALL is even more critical than the slope near your ball. Stand a few paces behind the hole, in-line with your ball, hang your putter down to line-up the bottom of the calibrated side of your putter shaft with the hole. If your ball can be seen on the left of your shaft, your grip is on the high side of your slope so your putt will break from left to right. If your ball lies to the right of your shaft, your putt will break from right to left. (Yes, it may be opposite from what you think as everything is reversed when you get back to your ball.)
Mini-Rule: (Calibrate your putter.) After you line-up the lower part of your shaft behind your ball or behind the hole, the top of your putter will ALWAYS be on the high side of the hole. (only takes 5 seconds to check) Your putt will ALWAYS break from the high side.
Practice with GOLFSTR+ to lock your wrist flat when you putt. Choose your target line (possibly by plumb-bobbing), take practice swings to choose the right swing for distance and then stare at your target point for 2 to 3 seconds (to lock your brain in for the distance and direction). Rock your shoulders to swing straight up your target line. Lock your eyes on a spot on the back-edge center-line of your ball during your swing and for 1 to 2 seconds after impact. You WILL make more putts. Buy your GOLFSTR+ today at www.golfstr.com
It has been demonstrated by numerous “engineers ” that the plumb bobbing method to mesure slopes of the green is pure rubbish :you see what you want to see ,or the opposite .
The best method I know
to follow (Please observe the rules and don ‘t walk too close to the putting line !) is to feel the slope with your feet ;you have to develop your sense of balance to do so with success
Hi Raymond, I’m surprised that you are taking such a strong position. Sir Isaac Newton may not have been an “engineer” but he was the first to define gravity and the laws still apply. Gravity forces a golf balls to break from a high to a low side on a green. The Plumb-Bob only determines the exact direction pointing “down”. Any deviation off of “down” is an angle that clearly shows the direction of the slope of a green (directly under your feet when you hold your “calibrated” club as a PB). Every round of golf on TV shows at least one golfers using their putter to Plumb-Bob (PB) for the break in the green (where they are standing). If you don’t calibrate your putter and your eye then you will never get a proper reading.
It is difficult for anyone to stand on a 1 degree sloped green to tell the difference with certainty and that’s why you see so many pros using their putter to PB. You (and the pros who are PBing) have missed the major point of my blog. When you PB you are only finding the slope exactly under your feet. It has nothing to do with the slope approaching the hole or at the hole. Because a ball breaks more as it slows down near the hole, ideally you should be standing behind the hole and lining up your ball to determine the slope near the hole.
This PB method is still not perfect as you need the hole and the ball to create your horizontal line to measure against. Your feet are a few paces back from the hole and the slope may change from your stance to the holes. That’s why it is critical that you look for changes in the slope along the line of your putt and most important, the change in slope before and after the hole (where you should make your most important PB measurement).
The only people who reject PB as a method to determine slope are the people who don’t take the time to understand the engineering thought process. PB should only be done when there is a minor slope that you may not see. It only takes 5 seconds to PB at one end or both ends of your putt. It can easily be done while others are sizing up their putts because you are only determining direction of your putt (from high to low) by seeing your putter grip on the high side of your putting line.
Raymond, do not ignore this tip. I want to hear that you have understood it and that you are pleased to say that it really works. I hope to hear from you in 1 week. [If you don’t understand the process of putter calibration and putter shaft line up, then ask someone to show you. I really can’t make it to the French Riviera for at last 6 months.]