Myrtle Beach Golf Tip: How to Improve Your Putting Aim

Mel Sole, Master Professional and director of instruction at the Mel Sole Golf School at Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club and Grande Dunes Resort Club, offers this monthly tip on how to improve your putting game when you think your eyes are lying to you.

I want to talk to you about something that I think most of you already know. When you’re aiming your putter, most people know that if you put a line on your golf ball, you can help aim better by using the line – and certainly all the PGA and LPGA professionals use it. You can either, like Tiger Woods, put a complete line around your ball, or in my case I actually use the brand name or the model name on the golf ball to help you aim.

But the reason that you don’t aim correctly is that when you get over a putt without the aid of the ball, it is what we call binocular vision – and everybody has binocular vision in that they aim with two eyes.

Every sport we play with a target we play “face on” – even a baseball pitcher who start sideways, by the time he delivers the ball he’s face on. So when we use our eyes to aim in golf, we play golf “sideways on” – and we actually get and optical illusion as to where we’re aiming. And so the line on the ball helps, but I will see a lot of students when they’re going to putt bend over and do this with the line (places ball with line in direction you think you’re aiming, while standing in your putting position).

Well, that’s defeating the whole point of the binocular vision. You want to aim from behind; you want to get behind the ball (in relation to the hole), and then you can get down and line up the ball. Of course, you want to aim the line to where you think the break is. Theoretically, every putt is a dead straight putt to wherever I’m aiming, and the break will take care of getting the ball in the hole.

The second thing that a lot of people say to me is they don’t use the line on the golf ball anymore, that they started off using the line but they don’t use it anymore because when they get over the ball it looks crooked to them, and that happened to me in the beginning as well. It would look like I’m not actually aiming correctly, but if I walked back here and I stood back I would see “oh, yeah, okay, it is aimed correctly.”

So what I realized was that my eyes are lying to me – it’s an optical illusion (once you’re then standing over the ball). So in all the years that I didn’t use the line, I got used to aiming one way. Now that I’m using the line, it looks crooked.

So this was the solution that I used, I would get behind the ball and I would aim the line. So, intellectually, I knew that the line was correct. So when I did my practice strokes here, whether I had a three-foot putt or a 30-foot putt, I would do my practice strokes, and then when I walked into the ball and put my putter down, I would never look up again – I would just go ahead and make my stroke.

So, that way, my subconscious trusted the fact that I was lined up correctly, and I went ahead and I made my stroke. So that is the secret, if I can call it that, to not confusing the subconscious and thinking that you’re aiming crooked. You cannot line up straight without the line. The line is there to help you aim correctly because of our binocular vision.

So the routine that you want to have is get behind, aim it the way you think it needs to go, take the practice stroke and when you take a practice stroke, look a little bit beyond the whole so that when I walk into the putt and I line up, I want to hit it at a pace that I think can take it one foot past the hole. That’s the ideal pace.

Those are some the ways of improving your putting, particularly on the short putts – get behind every time you aim the line. When you do your practice stroke, look a little bit beyond. You going to hit the putts online and with the right pace. If you can do those two things, you’re certainly going to hole more putts.

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