ABS and Putters

I’ve been talking a bit with David Edel of Edel Golf and just read this research study on putting from Norwegian scientists Johnny Nilssen and Jon Karlsen aimpointgolf.com/docs/Karlsen2010.pdf

Edel Golf (www.edelgolf.com) makes custom putters. The first thing they try to do is fit the putter to the way you aim. They use a laser to determine how you aim the putter from about 6 feet. And you can use your routine to aim, even if you use the line on the ball to aim (the line on the ball trick actually doesn’t work all that well, contrary to what people think). The laser will then show if you tend to aim left of the cup, right of the cup or at the cup. They can also check to see if you de-loft the putter or add loft to the putter at address. They have…IIRC…30 million options of putter heads, hosel designs, and aim lines and sight dots. When they first measure you, they will try to ‘steer’ you in the right direction. Let’s say you tend to aim right of the target…they will then use their knowledge of what types of putter head designs, hosels and aim lines/sight dots that promote a ‘left aim bias’ and keep working to figure out what will get you to keep aiming more left until you are naturally aiming at the target. Then from there once they get that down, they will fit you for your putter shaft and weight to see what works best.

Anyway, the aim part is something David has studied a lot on. There’s a book out by Golf Magazine where he they have a bunch of putting ‘gurus’ and they each write their own chapter. David had his own chapter and he goes over in detail about how to pick a putter and what putters and aim lines/sight dots (and even putter length effects aiming) do what.

From what I’ve read from a different study and the study that Nilssen and Karlsen did, most right handed golfers tend to aim left of the target with putts. Another study, done by David Orr, had the number breakdown like this

55% aim left
25% aim right
20% aim at target

So 80% of golfers cannot aim straight from 6 feet away.

When speaking to Edel, he mentioned that eye dominance plays a factor. Most right handed golfers are also right eye dominant. Thus, they can’t help but use the back part of the putter head to aim their putts. When you use the back part of the putter head, you’re more likely to aim left of the target. Conversely, left eye dominance means the right handed golfer will be using more of the front part of the putter head to aim and that usually causes them to aim right. That’s why you see the breakdown of 55% aim left, 25% aim right, 20% aim straight.

Well, here’s the problem with modern putters. All of those putters with all of those alignment lines and sight dots promote and square edges (i.e. Ping Anser) promote left aim bias. Those giant heads promote left aim bias. The 2-ball putter promotes left aim bias.

And these are the most popular selling putters.

In fact, Edel told me that a large chunk of the golfers he fits wind up not needing any aim line or sight dot on their putter at all….y’know…old school putters.

Also, the Nilssen and Karlsen study says that their subjects claimed that they believed the mallet putters were easier to aim. However, they actually aimed the blade (Ping Anser, Ping Zing, etc designed putters) much better than the popular mallets. They aimed the blades not only more closer to the target, but their dispersion in aim was much tighter. This despite the fact that they believed the mallets were easier to aim.

Also, the Karlsen and Nilssen study showed that the subjects putted much more accurately with heavier putter shafts. They said the problem is that you can only go so heavy with the putter shaft before the golfer doesn’t like the feel of the heaviness of the shaft. But they did putt well with heavier shafts.


Haven’t read the whole 99 pages yet but there is an interesting comment in the early conclusions section which states that green reading seems to be more important than technique for precision in direction and distance and that equipment has little influence on putting performance.

Probably fairly obvious when you think about it as your only rolling the ball along the ground!!

Makes the purchase of the latest greatest putter with some supersonic insert and wierd shape rather pointless then :laughing:

Think I’ll stick to my blade but whatever works then go with it!

2 big premises of that research is that green reading they believe had the biggest influence of ‘accuracy and speed.’ The other is that while green reading is the most important in their eyes, they believe that golfers are using the wrong putter for their aim and stroke and getting the right putter can make a a difference without having to make a big effort (changes to your putting stroke, stance, etc). But, it’s all for not if the green reading is poor. Combine the two…good green reading + good putter fitting…and then the golfer will improve their putting.

I spoke to Mark Sweeney, creator of AimPoint Golf at the PGA Merchandise Show in January. AimPoint is that thing you see on The Golf Channel that shows where the golfer must aim and the line of the putt that the ball will take if they are to make it. AimPoint is much more than just that thing on TGC, it’s also a study on how to read greens and knowing where to aim (not how to aim). Mark is really, flat out amazing to talk about. Not only with his knowledge and explain the hows and why’s…but we were at Miller’s Ale House watching a PGA Tour event in California and without the AimPoint on, he was going over how exactly a putt would break. For instance, Mickelson had a 4-footer and Mark said ‘this putt is straight, but everybody thinks it’s right edge and Phil usually hits it too hard’ (paraphrasing) and Mickelson putted…and missed it, too hard and right edge. He could pretty much do that all day. Really amazing stuff to watch.

Geoff Mangum is another putting guru I think extremely highly of. He’ll probably tell you that speed/touch is more important than green reading. He’s got a great video (www.realityofputting.com) that I would extremely recommend. He understands neuroscience extremely well and one of the major things that helped me was his method of using your brain’s natural ability to have the right touch/speed. I wish Mangum was around for the Nilsson and Karlsen study because I think we would’ve seen golfers greatly improve the speed/touch by employing his simple method. So I can see why Mangum would take speed/touch over green reading. But I can also see why one would take green reading over speed/touch. I think if you can combine the two, that’s when the greatest advancements can be made.


This is an example where I believe the bigger picture is missed from investigating something too deeply. Who cares where you aim, the only thing that is important is where the ball goes. If I throw a stone at a can sitting on a pole, I don’t aim and I highly doubt someone else who was trained to understand and aim their throw without developing the skill dumbly, as I did as a child, could hit the can as often.

Because as soon as you get out on a course with undulating greens, wind and noise disturbing your balance, mood, anxiety and energy levels affecting your stroke, all that custom fitting goes out the door. Adaptability is what it’s all about IMO, not custom-ability.

I’m always amazed at how great I am at reading greens when the ball is coming off the face to my liking and my feel for speed is spot on.

On the contrary, I am always amazed at how poorly I am reading greens when I am not putting well! :imp:

I disagree with you, Steb on this because most golfers cannot rely on adaptability. As the research shows, the elite players actually tend to aim left…but less left than the non-elite players…so basically they are making a lesser compensation. After awhile, it’s easy to see the advantage of making less compensations and having smaller compensations.

When I think about it, I couldn’t imagine saying to myself that I would prefer to have a putter that aims me off target (or in the case of today’s mallets…aims me more off line and has a great dispersion of where I aim) than a putter that would aim me straight.

Plus, with throwing or even hitting something into the air, the air doesn’t nearly impact the way the ball or stone moves quite like the ground does with putting a ball.


One of the things I discussed with Sweeney about is how most players on Tour prefer certain types of greens. He said there are plenty of players that will putt really well on undulating greens, but put them on flatter greens where everybody expects them to putt better…they don’t have a chance because they just can’t read flatter greens as well as they read undulating greens.

This struck a chord with me because the course I grew up on had pretty big breaks. And then another course I played often I just couldn’t get the feel for reading the greens becasue they had much flatter greens. Of course, the opposite is true as well…guys who can read flat greens great, but can’t read undulating greens.

I asked Mark about Augusta and he said the greens are actually very easy to read, it’s just that if you’re leaving yourself with 40+ foot birdies, you can get into 3 putting quickly because it’s tough to execute a putt on those greens from those distances even when it’s an easy read. Toughest course to read greens?

St. Andrews.


Alvie Thompson described to me a technique for setting up your stroke so that on breaking putts, particularly ones that move left to right, your stroke can make the putt different ways depending upon inconsistencies within the stroke.

For example…

A left to right breaking putt, you quit on the putt which shuts down the blade and sends the ball left… however, the weak putt takes more break and still goes in the hole. Or… you over accelerate a bit, and hit the putt too hard, but it then takes less break and still finds the hole. The more break in the putt, the more possibilities there are to make it on varying lines. Straight putts leave little option for sending the ball on a variety of lines. Of course you can ram in a straight putt or die it into the hole… and I think Pelz had lots of stats on optimal speeds, but I am not sure I agreed with all of his findings.

A lot of studies these days are done on tour caliber near flawless surfaces… but there is still a lot more golf being played on less than perfect surfaces.
I like to think if I am rolling it good, I can make putts on even punched and sanded greens.

I completely agree with this… I prefer to know which way a putt is going to break without a doubt. I tend to read break into a putt that might be basically straight.

I know Orr’s study was done on a different set of greens. They did in at a muni, a solid country club and then at Pinehurst. The problem with Orr’s study is that it’s not available to the public, but we’ve discussed some of the findings

The Nilssen & Karlsen study along with David Orr’s study show that golfers tend to make uphill putts the most. The reason being is that to get the right speed/touch on an uphill putt, you have to hit the ball harder. And when you hit the ball harder, the ball won’t break as much as if you would if you barely tapped a slick downhiller. One thing I figured out is that on aerified greens, you really need to be conscious of trying to leave yourself with uphill putts. Downhill putts on punched greens almost stand no chance of going in. You’ll hit them with less speed and the aerification holes just wobble the ball all over the place.

I spoke to David Edel about putts that break and uphil and downhill putts. One of the things as a kid I was really good at doing was putting putts that went left to right, which is sorta against the commonly prescribed theory that righties should struggle most on left to right putts. David explained it to me, can’t remember it all, but it has to do with how the golfer sets their eyes down to the putter and then to the slope of the green. Some golfers do it correctly with some slopes and poorly with others…explaining why I was a good left to right putter.

I honestly believe that a lot of ‘good putting’ has to do with ballstriking. I know that I’ve had times where I didn’t feel like I was in the zone, but I made a ton of putts and the putts didn’t seem hard. I think they were probably putts that were flat or uphill. I think Nicklaus was probably a bit overrated as a putter. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t terrible. But I think he was thought of as a great putter because he was giving himself much more better opportunities to make putts. If Jack gets 8 birdie putts from 10-20 feet and they are all slightly uphill, I’d take that over Crenshawn having 8 birdies putts from 10-20 feet that are all downhill.


I attended an Aimpoint clinic a few months ago. The information was interesting, I learned a few things and got validation on several things I knew.

One thing you leave with is a booklet showing the amount of break for putts on “planar” surfaces from 1 to 20 feet based on a variety of factors… green stimp, grade of slope at the hole, where you are in relation to the “fall-line”, etc. I’ve yet to use the booklet as it seems cumbersome and imo turns everything into too much of an exact equation which I think interferes with my “feel” sense (it’s sort of hard to explain).

If you can find the “fall-line” (the straight uphill-downhill putt thru the cup) you can read greens and I think they pretty much make that point in the clinic. I’m much better at locating the fall line now and once I have that piece of info then the reading of the break becomes more of an intuitive process for me. I have more confidence in knowing what’s going to happen at the hole and that confidence in turn bleeds back into committment to the putt which in turn bleeds back into the stroke itself (in some respects).

I also find the eye-dominance thing that Edel came up with interesting and it explains some of my putting experiences.


I rotate between a Yes! Tiffany C-groove putter (sort of a two-ball mallet style) with a new jumbo 2 thumb grip and a beaten up old flanged bullseye with the original grip that is really hard now. I love the feel of the Yes! putter, and enjoy putting with it . . . rolls the ball great on the carpet at home and on the practice green . . . i think i’m putting better . . . but I don’t make any more putts with it. My average with both putters is the same.

also, like most people, the longer I read the putt, the less confident I become . . . and I’m reminded of the Black Swan element that every calculation I make about a putt is just as likely to be wrong as making no calculation.

I currently own a Yes! Victoria II putter. My Edel will be in the mail on Monday. I like the feel of the Yes! putters although many do not. I got fitted for that putter about 2 years ago, but the fitting was solely on reducing the amount of skid and when I did it, it showed that the grooves do work in reducing the amount of skid. Mangum says there’s no proof that reducing skid will make more putts. I see his point because if your aim and green reading sucks and your stroke is sloppy…what difference is less skid going to make. Although I like less skid because it’s just more of a consistent roll for me, particularly on 5 footers.

I have an AimChart as well. I used it as more of a reference. If it says aim 6 inches right, I usually just try to check and see if that is about where I’m thinking. Tough to get a feel with the AimCharts. I hope to get any misconceptions I’ve had corrected there. Also, the fall line doesn’t quite work like we typically think according to Sweeney. Such as a putt at 6 o’clock on the fall line will be straight, but the 12 o’clock putt may not be straight and usually isn’t.


So would a right handed golfer that’s L eye dominant use the back of the putter for aiming…thus offsetting the trend. I tried this today and the results were remarkable…maybe beginners luck!

What’s your thoughts on this 3Jack :slight_smile:

I truly think dominant eye and how[size=150] ‘I’[/size]see a line can be a little different and doesn’t have to be perfect… I always liked to hit out on right to left putts to keep them up the hill and use the high side of the hole , and left to right depended on the speed,…die it in or smash it in
I have had all this putter stuff done over the years…Scotty Cameron factory, Ping factory, Kirk Currie Slazenger with Mike Shannon, Yes with Harold Swash, Bobby Grace with Bobby Grace and so on…getting fitted with short putters, offset, no offset, low loft, more loft, anser style necks, toe up styles…all these things were meant to help me improve my alignment or get a putter in my hand that would help me hole more putts.
fact is I have won with anser style, wilson TPVIII style , blade 8802 style, a long putter , and normal hand and cross hand…and putted well with fat lady center balanced, bulls eyes…of course I have putted like crap with all those things also…I just think if your eyes see a line a particular way having an altered putter to try match isn’t going to help an awful lot…you are still going to view the putt and the line as your eyes allow you to.
I nearly had my left eye taken out with a golf club when I was about 13 years old…so I am very right eye dominant and really need to see the line with my right eye much more than my left eye as it is weaker…it has never seemed to matter what putter I used, or how they tried to fit or tell me what was best…it was what it was and I just had to try feel it and work with it… I don’t think that helped having a very weak left eye but I also don’t think swapping changing and searching and listening to 85 different people helped much either

At least I know someone else feels the same way!

I see the plusses and the negatives of trying to be too perfect…
I know for fact…I go drop a sleeve of balls on a green and have a practice putt I will make 1 or 2 sometimes all 3 of the putts- without so much as reading the putt or even caring how I line up whether it be 8 feet or 25 feet.
I just drop the balls, take a quick glance, step in and hit…it’s truly incredible just how well you can actually putt when you get out of your own way and react to instinct.
Trying to be perfect many times actually leads to imperfection.
You hear it all the time on TV like there is a guideline to how a pro should putt…that he should look from 3 sides, practice stroke looking down the line, aim the putter, then his feet and look down the line and visualize a track to the hole and so on and that he needs to take upwards of a minute before he is actually allowed to strike a putt.
From my talking to Faxon and Baddeley and my discussions with Bob Rotella about my putting…they just look and react and are 2 of the best putters ever. Faxon enjoyed every putt whether they went in or not, deciding if the first 5 putts he hit missed didn’t mean anything because that meant the law of averages were then in his favour for the rest of the day. Badds doesn’t even line up his putter!!! Keeps his head down, steps in takes a quick look sometimes and hits it…stats show he has been the best putter on the PGA for close to 7 years now.
Baker-Finch was one of the best putters I ever saw…he didn’t flip the name of the ball up or use alignments…he actually put the ball down so all he could see was the white of the ball, so he could have nothing else in his eye line making him see something he felt he shouldn’t see. He also carried a peice of paper in his wallet that said “I am the greatest putter in the world!!” to let himself know he was never going to be negative on the greens.
Crenshaw can step in any old way and then he cocks his head in all funny ways upwards and off the line of the putt to get a look at the line as he wants to see it and just filled that hole up…more or less reacting to his eyes and instincts and adjusting his body to the feel and trusting his body and visuals rather than trying to be perfect.

I think a chalk line and things like that are good to train your eyes how a putt should look to help your eyes and body understand how much 12 inches of break or 6 inches of break should look…but I don’t think perfection in alignment is really worth striving for too much on the greens because speed makes alignment differ and bad bounces and poorer greens throw putts off line, grain can come into play…there are just too many variables when the ball is on the green rolling across an uneven surface.
At least when you hit a shot the ball is in the air…no bad bounces up there :smiley:

I don’t think it quite works that way.

Mangum’s theory is that anybody can learn to aim straight with a bunch of different putters. He and Edel kinda have the same theory when it comes to putters…simpler designs are usually better. So you get these TM Spiders and Odyssey putters with wacky shapes and lines and it just confuses the brain. Mangum uses something called the ‘gaze’ in order to get the golfer to aim square. It’s more or less aiming without focusing, but I really don’t quite understand how to do it.

I think unless you can ‘gaze’ properly, then you wind up focusing on the back part or front part of the putter. Like I said, 20% of golfers aim straight. For me, I got my Edel putter because I’d rather spend my time working on my swing and ballstriking that working on putting and I figured that if I learned to ‘gaze’ properly, I could aim straight…but if I didn’t or was struggling with it on a particular day, I would be aiming straight anyway. I will add that Nicklaus was left eye dominant and did rotate his head at address to get his dominant eye further back.


I agree Richie, because they have never developed adaptability. Green conditions and the way our body feels toss up enough variability, but then we go and constantly change putters, stroke, alignment, grips,… and completely overload our senses. Also forcing our organic being into geometrical perfection sounds like Compensation City to me.

The world presents a never-ending myriad of quick solutions that distract us from the way that pennyless, ‘unintelligent’ kids go about putting the lights out. There’s no chance of developing adaptability.