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Putting Alignment - Add a Line to the Ball? Use the One Printed There?


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I know a lot of the pros I see on TV seem to have added alignment lines to their balls and use them religiously; this is something I have never done.  The fact so many pros do it should answer my basic question I guess, but it opens some others.  Here goes?

1) Do you use and recommend aligning your puts with either an added line on the ball or the alignment line that some balls (Pro V1 for sure) have printed on them?

2) If yes, is it fair to presume that a longer line than that already on the ball may be preferable?  How long, full circumference?

3) If you use an alignment line, how?  i.e. looking for recommendations for actually getting it lined up right.  I'm thinking trying to squat directly behind the ball to line it up to the spot you would like to target?  (The hole if no break.)  Do you use both eyes, or try to one-eye it with your dominant eye like a gun sight?

4) There seem to be various tools/gizmos for adding an alignment line.  Recommendations for something easy and sturdy?

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I did that a few years back, but it didn't work well for me.  I would use one of the ball line templates and draw a long black line on the ball.  Lining up the line took too long and wasn't that accurate.  Because my eyes are not directly over the ball when I putt (about 1 inch below the ball), the line always looked off to me.  It was more of a distraction.

Now, I place the ball with no markings showing and align my putter to my starting aim point.

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I know a lot of the pros I see on TV seem to have added alignment lines to their balls and use them religiously; this is something I have never done.  The fact so many pros do it should answer my basic question I guess, but it opens some others.  Here goes? 1) Do you use and recommend aligning your puts with either an added line on the ball or the alignment line that some balls (Pro V1 for sure) have printed on them? 2) If yes, is it fair to presume that a longer line than that already on the ball may be preferable?  How long, full circumference? 3) If you use an alignment line, how?  i.e. looking for recommendations for actually getting it lined up right.  I'm thinking trying to squat directly behind the ball to line it up to the spot you would like to target?  (The hole if no break.)  Do you use both eyes, or try to one-eye it with your dominant eye like a gun sight? 4) There seem to be various tools/gizmos for adding an alignment line.  Recommendations for something easy and sturdy?

1) yes I use one religiously. Not for everybody but it works for me. 2) I do my own line with a sharpie, about half the circumference. I find the sharpie line easier to see than the lines in my DT Solos. 3) I mark my ball position and then hold it at arms length while squatting and sight it like a gun. Lower my arm (careful not to rotate at all) and place it. Then I'll stand back and confirm it's lined up like I want it. Once I've aligned my putter to the ball I forget all about line and shift all my concentration to speed. 4) just buy the cheap plastic cup that snaps into the ball, cost about 4-6$ Some people don't like using the lines and find it a distraction or find it creates doubt. I'm the opposite, I trust the line and just make the best stroke I can. If I miss, I miss, you're not going to make all of them.

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I use the pre-printed line as a general indicator after I line up the putt from behind - i.e. left, right, way left, way right.  But I find my most accurate reads come when I'm standing over the ball and get a feel for direction and magnitude.  So sometimes I ignore my prior read (sometimes successfully, other times less so).

Some of the gizmos purport to show the actual equator of the ball - i.e. where it spins true.  Idea there was that if you lined up the ball with it rolling on the equator your putt wouldn't go off line due to weight differences in the ball itself.  That might be a valid claim or not - I suspect (though have no data to back it up) that with modern ball technology and consistency the ball will generally roll true. At least true enough for most of us.

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I know it obviously works for a lot of people, however, I'm skeptical of it.  Just from a geometry standpoint ... I'm not Camilo Villegas, so if I squat as low as I possibly can, I'm still only looking at the ball from maybe 45* above.  At an angle such that unless the putt is really short, I can't see the ball (and thus my alignment line) AND the hole, at the same time.  This means that I have to look at the ball and trace an imaginary line towards the hole (or somewhere else altogether if its a breaking putt) with my eyes.

Then, lets say that I do trust my eyes, well there is just the practical standpoint, which I find a lot more complicated than it seems.  Trying to get a ball with dimples to sit in a very particular way on top of a green with blades of grass pointing all different directions is not easy.  And I also know that if I my line is crooked by only 1 degree for a simple 10' putt, then I've just moved my aimpoint by 2 inches.

So, in conclusion, since I don't at all trust myself to align the ball properly, then, no, I don't use an alignment aid. ;)  I just put the ball down however, and line up with the putter while I'm getting ready to hit.

This is what I have to deal with for being a dorky, left-brained engineer. ;)

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I know it obviously works for a lot of people, however, I'm skeptical of it.  Just from a geometry standpoint ... I'm not Camilo Villegas, so if I squat as low as I possibly can, I'm still only looking at the ball from maybe 45* above.  At an angle such that unless the putt is really short, I can't see the ball (and thus my alignment line) AND the hole, at the same time.  This means that I have to look at the ball and trace an imaginary line towards the hole (or somewhere else altogether if its a breaking putt) with my eyes.

Then, lets say that I do trust my eyes, well there is just the practical standpoint, which I find a lot more complicated than it seems.  Trying to get a ball with dimples to sit in a very particular way on top of a green with blades of grass pointing all different directions is not easy.  And I also know that if I my line is crooked by only 1 degree for a simple 10' putt, then I've just moved my aimpoint by 2 inches.

So, in conclusion, since I don't at all trust myself to align the ball properly, then, no, I don't use an alignment aid. ;)  I just put the ball down however, and line up with the putter while I'm getting ready to hit.

This is what I have to deal with for being a dorky, left-brained engineer. ;)

Great explanation... that's essentially why I stopped. Even if you are a little bit off, it is enough to miss the putt. All it did for me was bring in one more variable that I could possibly screw up.

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I just started putting a line on my ball about a 3rd of the way around it but I've only played twice since then, the first time was the day after they dressed the greens so by the 4th hole I gave up trying to putt and was simply playing two balls and 'closest to the pin' against myself. The second time was about a week later and the dimples on the greens had just about subsided.I don't know if it made any difference honestly, I tried to trust the line on the ball more and while my putting was maybe a fraction better,still heartbreaking to miss an 8 foot birdie putt because you misread the break, whether it's by an inch or by 5.

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Great explanation... that's essentially why I stopped. Even if you are a little bit off, it is enough to miss the putt. All it did for me was bring in one more variable that I could possibly screw up.

Thanks.  Exactly.  For some people (like @Ernest Jones ) it provides extra confidence, but for others, like you and I, it's extra doubt.

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I use the alignment line on the ball. Only problem is, in about half the rounds I play, the ball will gyrate slightly when I put it back after marking it, and end up out of alignment. This mainly happens when the greens are damp, for some reason. Anything inside 4 feet, I don't really need the alignment line.

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Thank you all for the quick responses!  I had been fooling with aligning the ball here on my putting pad, a SKILZ Accelerator Pro that has alignment lines painted all over it.  I was having a hard time getting the dang thing set on that, which is partly what prompted the request for technique suggestions.  It might be a little easier on grass...  But getting it pointed the right direction to begin with won't any easier, that's for sure.  I think I'll just join the group that feels like it adds to uncertainty rather than the opposite and just go back to trying to stroke the dang thing the right direction.

Cheers! :beer:

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I used it in the late 90's 'till about 2007.

I was not always confident that the exact line was my line... I've noticed the trend is to forego the line

Went to Pat O'Brien, who teaches Zach Johnson on putting - he gave me a reason for not doing the line - I apparently bought his line of reasoning, and I feel more comfy without the line.

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I used it in the late 90's 'till about 2007. I was not always confident that the exact line was my line... I've noticed the trend is to forego the line Went to Pat O'Brien, who teaches Zach Johnson on putting - he gave me a reason for not doing the line - I apparently bought his line of reasoning, and I feel more comfy without the line.

What was the reason?

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I did this for about 3 months, then i gave up on it. I kept trying to adjust the line, over and over again. It was to time consuming for me. I rather pick a spot 2-3" in front of the ball on the tangent line of the curve of my putt.

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I place a line on my ball but it's more for ball marking purposes than putter alignment.  Like many others I found it took too long it align it perfectly and it didn't seem to reduce the number of putts I was making so stopped using it.

I guess if I make it on the Tour where every putt is potentially worth $1M I might go back to it but otherwise I don't see it happening.

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