It’s well-established that the impact angle of the putter face – not the putter’s path – is the key factor determining the ball’s direction.
Indeed, it’s been mathematically shown that face angle has an 85% influence on direction vs. just 15% for path.
That means squaring the blade at impact is the most critical component to hitting putts on line. Most golfers have a common miss – left or right – because they either fail to close the blade on the forward stroke (push) or close it too much (pull).
Given the vagaries of putting, such as the green’s break, speed and imperfections that alter the ball’s roll, it’s sometimes difficult to tell exactly why you missed a putt to one side of the cup or the other. Here’s a little drill that will tell you if your miscues are caused by an open or closed face:
- Find a flat section of green and stick two tees in the ground 2 – 3 feet from the cup; they must be perfectly square to the hole and slightly closer together than the toe-to-heel width of your putter face.
- Place a ball directly in the center of the tees, so that a line between the tees would cross the ball’s equator.
- Putt the ball, noting which end of your putter (toe or heel) strikes a tee first. A heel strike means the face is open, while a toe hit means it’s closed. Catch the tees simultaneously and your stroke is square.
- Continue the drill to determine any pattern to your misses.
The simplest fix for an open face: Move the ball slightly forward (toward the hole/lead foot) in your stance. This gives the arms and hands extra room to rotate before impact. For pulled putts, shift the ball back in your stance.
Check any adjustments with the two-tee setup and, before long, you’ll discover the ball position that matches your stroke and produces a square blade.