For any shot in golf, contacting the ball with the correct point on the club face is incredibly important for both distance and accuracy. The correct point on the club face is termed the 'sweet spot'.
What is the 'sweet spot'?
The sweet spot is the position on the club face that is the most balanced area with which to contact the golf ball. At this point, maximum energy is transferred to the golf ball and the weight of the club head is positioned so that the putter head stays stable on contact. If the ball is contacted anywhere else on the club head the putter head will be less stable, twisting will occur and less energy will be transferred into the golf ball. This produces a loss in accuracy and distance.
How do I know where the sweet spot is?
Usually the sweet spot of a golf club is positioned directly in the centre of the club face and on a putter is marked by the aim lines on the back of the putter. To check, hold the club by the finger and thumb at the very top of the grip letting the club dangle in the air. Taking your other index finger, gently push the club face on the toe end and the heel end and you should notice that the club head twists on impact. Now move towards the centre of the golf club face and push gently until the club face does not twist - this is the sweet spot.
What happens if I miss the sweet spot?
The putter head will twist and the ball will be hit off line. Also, there will be a loss of distance. For example, a putt hit towards the toe end of the putter will twist the putter head to the right on impact (for right handed golfers) and therefore the ball will miss the target to the right. Likewise if the ball is contacted on the heel end of the putter, the putter head will twist to the left and the ball will miss the target to the left.
How do I practice hitting the sweet spot of my putter?
Take three golf balls and a hole that is approximately three feet away. Set two golf balls up a fraction over a putter's width apart to create a gate for the putter head to swing through on its way to the hole. Place the third golf ball in between these two golf balls and set up to this golf ball as normal.
The challenge is to putt the golf ball into the hole without striking the two golf balls acting as the gate. If you hit one of these outer golf balls, the putter head must be moving off line through the stroke and you will not be connecting with the sweet spot of the putter face. Putt the ball into the hole without disturbing the two outer balls and your putter will be connecting with the sweet spot every time.
Understand the sweet spot, its effect upon your putts and use this exercise to gain consistency and accuracy in your putting.