Squaring the putter face
As Maltby and Pelz noted, the putter face angle accounts for 85% of the direction the ball will
travel while the putter’s path accounts for only 15%. For example, on a 7’ putt, if the putter face
angle is 1° open and the path is 0° (square), the putt will miss the hole. However, if the putter
face angle is 0° (square) and the path is 1° inside out (or out to in), the putt would still go in the
hole. Therefore, to be able to roll the ball accurately on the intended line, it’s much more
important to practice squaring the putter face than to practice the putter path. Ironically, most
golfers spend most of their time working on the putter path. This is because it’s easier for
them and their friends (from whom they take advice) to see. Also, most of them don’t know of
an easy way to practice the face angle.
Knowing the importance of the putter face angle, I’d recommend that you spend at least 30% of
your putting practice on it. Here is a simple way to do it. Go get a marker, point it toward the
target, and putt it as shown in the picture below.
If the marker travels straight, your putter face is square at impact. If the marker spins one way or
another, then you need to adjust your face angle. Be sure to line the end of the marker up with
the edge of the ball where you make contact with it (rather than the center of the ball) as shown.
Practice putts of various lengths. You will find that the shorter putts are relatively easy. As the
length of the putt increases, it gets much harder to make the marker travel straight. This does
not mean that your putter face angle is off more with longer putts. It’s just that the stronger force
of a long putt amplifies any imperfection in your face angle more.
This drill simplifies putting by moving the concern of squaring the putter face to the practice
time. Once you can keep your putter face square in practice, you don’t have to worry about it on
the golf course. If you ever miss a putt, you’ll know for sure that there is only one reason: you
misread the break. There is no more guessing whether you pulled (or pushed) a putt or you
just didn’t read the green correctly.
Practice Aides: Square Putter face