Why Do Golfers Hold Their Putter Up to Read Greens?

If you spend a lot of time around the green on a golf course, you’ve probably seen players holding their putter up at waist level, looking at the green. So, what are they looking at? Why do golfers hold their putter up before taking the final shot?

In this post, we will break down this green reading technique known as the Plumb Bob. At the same time, we’re going to learn how to do it properly so that you achieve the success you’re looking for. And of course, look cool to newcomers to the course!

Resource: Golf Practice Plan to Break 80 (step by step drills)

Plumb Bob: The Infamous Technique to Spot A Putt Break

The thing you see players doing is called plumb bobbing. It’s one of the oldest techniques in golf that’s supposed to give you an idea of how the putt breaks. However, the technique didn’t originate in the golf industry.

Rather, it’s been used for thousands of years. Many historians believe that Ancient Egyptians invented this technique. At its core, plumb bobbing is a leveling technique that gives you an idea of how slanted the ground you’re standing on is.

In the old days, people used a piece of string with a stone or something heavy tied at one end. When you hang it, gravity will pull the weight down, giving you a perfectly perpendicular line to the subject.

What is the Purpose of Plumb Bobbing?

On the surface, everything looks level to us unless the angle is too extreme. However, the reality is different. The ground is not always level. And if this is the case at your golf course, your putt can break either way when you putt it straight.

Now, which way your putt breaks depends on the angle of the green. And that’s where plumb bobbing comes into play. Hanging the putter in front of your eyes should give you an idea of which way gravity will play you. You can then adjust your shot to account for the slanted grass on the green.

In recent times, plumb bobbing is losing its appeal. It’s simply because there is better technology to map the course and you find the data as a heat map at those courses. So, what’s the point of taking the chance of doing an incorrect reading where you have definitive data to back the claim?

Why Are You Doing It Wrong?

Did you notice how we said plumb bobbing “should” give you an idea of which way the putt will break? It’s because this technique only works when you do it right. Sadly, the majority of players don’t.

It simply comes down to the putter design. The majority of putters in the market have an off-center shaft axis. It means the shaft of the club is not in the middle of the club head. This also means the center of gravity is not in the middle of the head.

So, when you hang such putters in front of your eyes, you’re not getting a 90-degree angle. it can be off by 2 to 5 degrees depending on what kind of putter you use. If you’re one of the few players who use a center-shaft putter, you’re doing it right.

Thankfully, there is a simple fix to this problem.

You need to figure out exactly where your putter is hanging straight. For this, you need to use another rigid structure that’s supposedly vertical. Your door jam, for example. Or, the edge of a piece of glass that’s mounted vertically. Or, the pillar at your home if you trust your developer.

Whatever you use, you use it as a reference to find the exact point where your putter hangs straight. Hold it over your head by the grip using your index and thumb. The head of the putter should be higher than your waist level.

Now, twist the putter using your fingers in front of a straight vertical structure to see where they align. Once you find the point, take a good look at your putter. Whatever situation it’s in right now in relation to your body, that’s the angle you need to use for plumb bobbing.

Also, keep in mind that this technique only works on short putts, anything under 10 feet works best. In long putts where multiple breaks are possible, it’s not ideal to depend on plumb bobbing.

How to Read Green with a Plumb Bobbing?

Now that you know how to hold the putter to get the best possible result, it’s time to learn how to read the green using this technique.

When you hang the putter, you must be facing the hole, keeping the shaft of the club right in the middle of your body. With both eyes open, you should see the shaft on top of the hole. Your legs should be shoulder-length apart.

Now, you close your dominant eye. Whatever size the hole ends up of the shaft, that’s the way the putter might break. Sure, it’ll take some time to master. The more you do it, the more accuracy you can expect from this technique. When you’re so close to the hole, knowing this will help you knock the game out of the park in the shortest possible time.

Does it Work on Uphill and Downhills?

That’s a different discussion altogether. And you need a different set of skills to play on uphill or downhill greens. The technique in question, the plumb bob, only helps you figure out slight breaks on a green that looks level with the naked eye. Anything extreme, you’re stepping out of the plumb bobbing zone.

Wrapping Up

So, now you know why golfers hold their putter up while on the green. It’s almost a lost art that has been known to help professional players for hundreds of years. If you believe in the legacy and want to keep it going, start practicing. And make sure you practice enough before applying at the course.

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