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INTRODUCTION

The Aim Point Express green reading system was invented by Mark Sweeney, a keen amateur golfer, who also designed the putting line imagery for golf on tv.  With the Eye Line Method, we discussed in the previous section, you are completely reliant on your eyes to provide you with the information needed to read the Putt correctly.  With the Aim Point Method, we use many body systems in combination, to assign a numerical concept of the slope angle and hence the amount of break the ball will be affected by, on its way to the hole.

THE SCIENCE BIT

Balance is a result of many body systems working in unison, which enable you to know where your body is in space and maintain its balance, in either a stationary or moving activity. The body systems that are in use are:

• the inner ear, vestibular system

• the muscular-skeletal system

• the nervous system

• the eyes

The vestibular system, the region of the inner ear, where 3 semicircular canals converge, works with the visual system to keep objects in focus. 

The visual system also combines with the muscular-skeletal system and their sensors, to maintain the bodies orientation and balance.  Visual messages sent to the brain about the body’s relationship to its surroundings are processed by the brain and compared to the information provided by the other systems.

THE METHOD

So that’s the science bit how does this relate to reading your putt. I would like you to undertake a little experiment on your practice putting green.  Select yourself a hole and place a ball marker about 6ft away.  Now read the putt using the Eye Line method and then roll a ball along the line you think is the correct one and watch the break.

Now return to the marker and stand over it is pointing towards the hole, with your feet just inside hip-width apart.  With the marker central to your stance and level with the balls of your feet.  Slightly flex at the knee and close your eyes.

Keeping you your weight balanced over both feet, I want you to feel the ground through your feet and try to work out, firstly if you are on a lateral slope?  This should be felt as an increase in pressure on one side, through the ground up through the feet.  The one with the increased pressure will be the downhill side.

Now without opening your eyes feel the pressure through the ground and your feet to see if you are standing level, uphill or downhill?  If you feel the pressure through your feet towards the toe, then you are facing downhill.  If on the other hand, you feel the pressure towards the heel, you will be facing uphill.  So, without the use of the eyes, you have been able to work out that the break is either left or right and that we are facing an uphill or downhill putt.

Now roll a ball along the line you think is the correct one and watch the break.  What you should find is that without the use of your eyes, you have worked out a similar break as with the eye Line Method.  So far there has not been much of an advantage using the Aim Point method over the Eye Line one.

So, let’s add on some more information to the Aim Point and see if we can improve on that.  This time re-set yourself over the ball marker, as you did previously for the Aim Point test.  Keep your eyes open and redo the balance test.

This time assign a score between 0-5, depending on the severity of the slope you are standing on.  The more pressure felt through the ground and feet on the downhill side the greater the number.  0, would be assigned to a slope if balanced over both feet, without the slightest feeling of pressure difference.  5 would be a significant slope and associated pressure felt through the feet.

Now that you have assigned the number to the slope, you then use your fingers to draw a visualisation line from the hole back to the ball on the green surface.  This will enhance your ability to see the line needed, to stroke the ball on track towards the hole.

If the putts break is right to left use your right hand.  If it breaks from left to right use your left hand. Now with a focus on the line, you visualised, roll a ball on that line towards the hole.  Now work around your putting practice green going from hole to hole, setting up the test again and see which one of the green reading methods give you more success.

When we are using the Aim Point method, we start our green reading process before we get to the putting surface, as we did for the Eye Line method so, by the time we get to the ball we already are starting to load information about the putt.

The basic premise of the Aim Point method is the same for whatever distance of Putt you face however, there are some additional read requirements for birdie and lag putts for you to consider.  let’s put the theory of the method into practical steps to read the putt.

  • Walk up to the ball and mark it and then pick it up.  Position yourself behind the marker with a narrow stance with the marker between your feet in line with the balls of your feet.  Your knees should be slightly flexed to aid slope recognition.
  • Then for only a few seconds judge how your weight is distributed.  If you feel balanced 50-50 over both feet, then your putt will be relatively straight.  If you feel that you are balanced more on the left foot then your putt will break from right to left.  Conversely, the putt will break left to right if you feel your weight more on the right foot.
  • The weight distribution will enable you to attribute a number for the slope between 0-5. the figure that your attribute to any break relates to the degree of the slope you are on as a percentage, not a degree.
  • You might get a reading which you feel is not a whole number, it could be more than a 1 but not a 2, therefore a 1.5.
  • As a reminder look through the gallery of photographs below and see how to use the fingers to represent the numbers as you visualise the break from the hole back to the ball marker. You can then use your hand and fingers to visualise the break of the putt and pick an aiming point to start your ball off towards.
  • complete the read once at the start of the putt, then in the middle of the putt and finally in the last third of the putt, between 3 to 6ft away from the hole.
  • You might get 3 different figures attributed to the 3 separate reads on a long putt.  If you do then always use the highest of the numbers and putt the ball on that line for the hole putt.

 

 

  • I prefer an aiming point that is 1ft away from the ball on the target line.  I use an imaginary line between this aim point and the ball, to ensure that I am set up correctly over the ball. Now you are ready to replace the ball and remove the marker and start your set up pre-shot routine.
  • For short putts of 6ft or less you only need to do the reading process one.  However, for longer putts up to 20ft away you should repeat the read again at the middle of the putt.
  • Remember is that the Rules of Golf prohibit you walking on the intended line of your putt.  So, make sure that when you walk to the middle of the putt, you walk on the downhill side adjacent to the line that you intend to roll the ball on.
  • For longer lag putts that are over 20ft away from the hole, you should complete the read once at the start of the putt, then in the middle of the putt and finally in the last third of the putt, between 3 to 6ft away from the hole.
  • You might get 3 different figures attributed to the 3 separate reads on a long putt.  If you do then always use the highest of the numbers and putt the ball on that line for the hole putt.

From a personal perspective, I always found it difficult to see the break of a putt. Using the Aim Point method has made an incredible impact on my ability to read the greens and make more putts.

I would encourage you to try both the Eye Line and Aim Point methods and see which one gives you the most success. You can use the putting test discussed earlier to work out which method works best for you. I can assure you that once you have decided on which method to use, you will need to practice regularly. If you do you will putt better and make more putts.

PRACTICE THE METHOD

Next time you are on the practice green have a look at the other people who are working on the green at the same time.  How many of them are working on their green reading skills do you think?  From my experience, hardly any will be.  They might be working on around the clock or ladder drill or might be working on their distance control but how many read each putt properly?

When you are practicing before your round, it’s not the time to be tinkering with your technique? Spend time going through your routine.  Read each putt as if it was out on the course.  Make sure that you are reading the putting line properly and visualising the speed that the ball needs to travel to go in.

Finally, make a stroke at the putt and watch the track and speed of the ball intently, adjust speed according to that day’s green speed and ensure that your practice putts are going at the optimum speed, to either go in or no more than 18” past the hole.

I know that my programme would be helpful to anyone who wants to improve their game.   The question you need to ask yourself is, can you trust me to help you?  Visit www.green2teegolf.com and find out what we have to offer?

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