The Putting Equation

by Scott Chisholm, AimPoint Level II Instructor

As an AimPoint instructor, I get asked often how green reading relates to putting as a whole. After some deep thought and discussion with my peers, I came to realize that green reading is just one of the variables of what I like to call the putting equation. I view putting as a simple equation which has to be balanced:


where the number zero represents a putt holed in the center of the cup. As an instructor, my goal is to make as many of these variables constant to minimize the overall difficulty of putting. With that being said, let’s take a look at what these variables represent:

A–Green Reading: This is used as the first variable not because it is necessarily the most important, but because it is the FOUNDATION of putting. If we do not read the putt correctly, there has to be compensations made later on in the equation.

B–Aim: Our good friends at Edel Golf have done countless research studies on aim and its affects on putting. It is amazing how few players can actually aim their putter face at the target (approximately 5%). At first, these numbers really surprised me but after teaching so many players to read greens, it began to make more sense. When your read is off, aim is one of the variables that players will compensate with.

C–Line: Can you actually start the ball on your intended line? This seems very simple, but is difficult for most golfers. Because many players have failed in both A+B, they need to start the ball on a different line to make a putt. One’s perception of where they start the ball and where they actually start it are often different. I like to use a string line to give my students a visual reference to where the ball really starts.

D–Speed: Do you have constant speed? If either A, B or C are off I would be very surprised if you do. Many speed problems for my students are a result of poor reads, aim and line. Whatever A, B and C add up to leaves only one speed which we can make the putt (or balance the equation to zero).

AimPoint has been so effective in my teaching because it addresses the least taught variable in putting, green reading. For example, let’s say your read is way off. We will assign it an arbitrary value of -10. In order for the player to have any chance at success, they are going to have to make up that value in the next three variables. They can either compensate with aim bias, pushing or pulling the putt, or hitting the putt too hard or soft. As you can imagine, there are plenty of combinations to try and balance out the equations, but all seem very difficult to do.

My goal in teaching is to make as many variables constant as possible. If I can make someones green reading consistent and accurate, A is now constant and there are only 3 variables left. Now if they can read greens AND aim their putter, the equation has been simplified even more, with only two variables to solve. Taking it one step further, if we can teach them to start the ball on line, we have created a player who only has to solve for the correct speed to make the putt. As you can see, the FEWER VARIABLES we have to solve for, the better chance we have to be a good putter. As A, B, C and D get closer to zero, not only do we become better putters, but we become more CONSISTENT putters.

So, the next time you question your putting stroke, look at the pieces of the putting equation. Odds are by cleaning up one of these variables (many times the read), the rest will fall in place and you will be on your way to becoming a much more consistent putter.

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