It is an often heard tip given by teaching professionals in putting lessons: "Make sure that your eyes are over the ball."
Here is an explanation of why this is so important and how you can check whether or not your eyes are in the correct position for best results when putting.
When setting up for a good quality putting stroke, aligning the eyes directly over the golf ball promotes a number of benefits to the golfer. These benefits reproduce a solid putting stroke and provide an accurate perspective of the target line enabling the golfer to aim and align correctly to the ball and hit consistent, accurate putts.
Positioning the eyes so that they are directly over the golf ball establishes five correct putting points for consistency.
1. The head and body will be positioned the correct distance away from the ball at set up. This is a position where the golfer's arms can hang loosely down from the shoulders and hold on lightly to the putter with the hands. In doing so, a solid but relaxed connection is formed between body, arms and shoulders allowing an effective pendulum motion to be performed enabling a consistent, repeatable putting stroke.
2. It is easy to keep still during the stroke. Concentrating on having the eyes over the golf ball before and during the putting motion holds the rest of the body still, letting just the shoulders move which improves consistency.
3. Promotes correct posture. Having the eyes positioned over the ball encourages the golfer to bend from the hips and keep the back straight. Good posture means that the shoulders can rock independently from the head and lower body making it easier for the putter to swing a consistent length through the putting action.
4. The line of the putt from ball to target can be seen correctly without influence from any optical illusions. If the eyes are positioned too far outside or inside of the target line the golfer may see the putt very differently than from the eyes being directly over the ball. A correct eye position reinforces trust in the correct line of putt.
5. The swing of the putter through the ball will be straight. If the eyes are directly over the ball when the shoulders rock, the putter will swing in a straight line backwards and forwards through the golf ball. If the eyes are too far inside the line of the ball, the arc of the rocking motion of the shoulders will change and the putter will swing on an inside to square to inside arc like a door swinging on a hinge. If the eyes are too far outside the line of the ball, the arc of the putter will be the opposite - an outside to square to outside arc. During both of these motions there will only ever be one point at which the putter is travelling on line with the target line and so the exact timing is crucial. If the eyes are positioned over the ball creating a backwards and forwards swing then the ball could be contacted anywhere on the path of the putter and a solid straight putt would be achieved.
To train yourself to position your eyes over the ball check your position by either:
1. In practice keep a spare ball in your pocket and, after setting up for a putt, pull the ball out of your pocket, hold it next to your left eye (for right handers) and let the ball drop. It should fall down and hit the ball you had set up to putt into the hole.
2. Set up to your putt as normal and then, keeping still, hold the putter underneath the left eye (for right handers) with your finger and thumb so that it hangs vertically downwards. You should be able to look straight down the shaft of the putter directly at the ball.
Get the eyes directly over the ball and strike more consistent, more accurate golf putts.