Top 100 Teacher Confidential: Should you use a line on your golf ball?

March 13, 2020

To use a line, or not to use a line? It’s a question a lot of golfers ask themselves, and never get a clear answer about it. So, we asked our GOLF Top 100 Teachers for help

Kevin Weeks, Cog Hill Golf & C.C.

I tell people to ahead and try putting with a line on the ball, but find it helps very few people. The theory is great; a line on your putter and a line on your ball will help you see your line better. However, because of the parallax effect and stereopsis of each persons eyes very few people can see a straight line on the ground from a tilted head position. Less than, 15 percent of the people that I have tested over my 20 years of putting research can achieve this. In addition, my research shows there is no correlation between better aim and better putting results anyway. So in my opinion, for most people, lining up the ball only slows down play and agitates your playing partners.

Most people would be better with a structured pre-shot routine that places their eyes in their proper spot that allows them to see the intended line of the putt. Two of the all time great putters are wonderful examples of this: Bobby Locke and Jack Nicklaus, both had setups that were not square to anything and they made a lot of putts.

Brady Riggs, Woodley Lakes G.C.

There are strong arguments on both sides for using/not using the line when putting. Using the line can take away the doubt of where the ball/putter are aimed at address and free up the stroke. Not using the line can help the player connect to the target, make subtle adjustments at address and become less focused on the stroke. The majority of professional and collegiate golfers use the line on short putts, especially those that are not starting outside the hole. Many of those players don’t use the line on putts with large amounts of break or outside 15-20 feet. The best practice here would be to experiment with the line in practice and during rounds to see if you are more comfortable with it than without it. I would add one caveat: If you become obsessed with the line and unable to make subtle adjustments while you are standing over the ball you will be turning off some of the athletic instincts that can make a player special.

Andrew Rice, Westin Savannah Harbor

In my experience most golfers should not use a line on the ball when they putt! The reason being is that most golfers grossly under-read putts and if they line the ball and their putter at an incorrect aim point they corrupt their ability to adapt and adjust according to their feel for the putt. Good green readers go ahead with the line.

Jason Baile, Jupiter Hills G.C.

There has been some wonderful research done on this topic by many top coaches including a mentor of mine and fellow GOLF Top 100 Teacher, Mike Shannon. For me this question comes down to “Conflict.” Does the use of the line eliminate conflict or does it create conflict? I use the line on my ball personally because it eliminates conflict. Once I set the line at my intended start direction, I can then focus on the speed that matches that start direction and read.

For some players, the line creates conflict due to how it appears and their personal perception of the start direction. If this is you, get rid of the line and focus more on the entry point of the cup you intend to roll it over. If you are going to use the line, please practice lining the ball up by using your dominant eye on the starting line as you aim the line initially. As a right eye dominant player, aim the line by placing the right side of your body and right eye down your intended stating line just as you might sight a rifle.

Kellie Stenzel, Boca Raton Resort & Club

Some golfers should use a line on their putter when they putt and others should not depending upon their putting style. If a golfer likes to pick a specific point to putt to — a small target six inches right and three feet short, for example — then go ahead and use a line. This allows the golfer to aim perfectly and when they are stroking the putt, they can simply attempt to control distance.

The golfer who naturally “sees” the break without over-analyzing should not use the line on the ball. This golfer who has this built in ability often will over-play the break when they use the line, making their result less effective. The bottom line is each and every golfer is different and unique and each golfer should determine individually what works best for them.

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