In the average round of golf, as many as 40% of shots are on the green with the putter, which makes it a vital part of your game to get right.
There are many different techniques and approaches that golfers use to line up their putts properly, and it often comes down to personal preference. But one that has gained a lot of traction in recent years is the aimpoint putting method, which has been used by both Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott to win the Masters at Augusta over the years.
Aimpoint putting is noticeably different to more traditional lining-up techniques, in particular because you’ll be relying on your feet and your fingers more than your eyes. But how does it work in practice?
This guide tells you everything you need to know about the aimpoint putting technique: what it is, how it works, how you can learn to use it, and the ways in which it can improve your game.
What is aimpoint putting and where does it come from?
The aimpoint putting method was invented by the Florida-based golf teacher Mark Sweeney, who still provides aimpoint-based lessons in Orlando today. His inspiration was finding that he was struggling to read putts in his own game, and using software to better predict the behaviour of a ball over the undulations of each green.
His initial system was featured on the Golf Channel for several years to help TV viewers understand a new way of putting, and it’s gradually evolved into the faster ‘Express’ technique which is widely used today.
Is the aimpoint putting technique legal?
Absolutely. Whether you’re playing in a competitive event or just with your friends and clubmates on a Saturday morning, you can use the aimpoint putting method on every hole if you feel comfortable with it.
How does the aimpoint putting system work?
Firstly, it’s important to note that it can be very tricky to pick up the aimpoint putting method if you aren’t already used to it. That’s why it’s recommended to work with a qualified, experienced instructor to help you get up to speed. But to give you a general understanding of the principles behind it, here are the three key steps involved:
Step 1: feel the slope
Straight away, you’ll notice a change, as you’ll start aiming with your feet rather than with your eyes. You should stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, around one pace behind the ball (two paces for a long putt).
At this point, you should feel which of your feet is carrying more of your weight, so that you can understand in which direction the green is running. You should grade the level of severity of the slope on a level between one and five, with five being the most severe (this is where an instructor can help you get a gauge of the levels).
Step 2: aim the putt with your fingers
Standing in the same spot, hold your hand up towards the hole while closing one of your eyes. The inside edge of your index finger should line up with the hole, with your fingers on the higher side of the green (i.e. if you felt your right foot taking more weight, line up with your left hand, and vice versa).
The number of fingers you should hold up depends on your slope measurement from the previous step: one finger for one, two fingers for two and so on. The outside point of those fingers is your aimpoint, the idea being that this is the correct deviation from the hole to account for the gradient involved.
Step 3: roll your putt towards the hole
Now you’ve established your aimpoint, you can play your putt in that direction, and it should theoretically track around towards the hole.
Learn more about aimpoint putting in this video.
How can the aimpoint putting technique be beneficial?
You may think that aimpoint putting will just help you score a little better on the greens. But if you can maximise the potential of it, and get your technique right, the ramifications for your overall game could be huge:
You can better understand your putt speed
Aimpoint is a really helpful way of understanding ball physics through putting: you’ll gain a greater appreciation of how friction and gradient affect the travel of a ball from club to hole. The knock-on effect of this is that you should become a better judge of your speed and weighting of each putt. Combining the right angle with the right speed will make a huge positive impact to your game, especially if it’s an area where you’ve traditionally been weak.
You can rely on a trusted method
The aimpoint putting method has been adopted by countless golfers at all levels. As many as five world number ones have put it to good use in their games, among as many as 200 Tour-level professionals. Mark Sweeney’s Aimpoint website also claims that as many as 75,000 amateurs and 5000 junior golfers have also implemented it, which means you’re in good hands with a technique trusted by golfers of all abilities.
It also gives you the confidence of a consistent method of lining up your putts. It’s a strange trait among many golfers that they’re more than happy to put the hours in to perfect their swing routine, but don’t place anything like the same level of emphasis on their putting. Aimpoint can therefore give you something to rely on across every putt, every green and every course.
You can make better decisions
The trust and confidence that aimpoint putting can give you can make a real difference to your decision-making and therefore to your confidence. So, the benefit of aimpoint is more than just direct: if you feel more confident about your putting, you’ll be more likely to improve your performance on the greens and bring your scores down even further.
How can you adopt the aimpoint putting system?
As with any part of golf, practice makes perfect. Don’t expect to be able to start using the aimpoint putting technique and find that it can magically transform your putting capability overnight. It represents quite a significant departure from what you may have been used to in the past, so be prepared to persevere and work at it all the time. When you’re practising your aimpoint putting, it can be helpful to use a tee placed into the green to understand different levels of break, and how best to gauge different levels.
Connected to that point, aimpoint putting is such a departure from other methods that using an instructor can be invaluable. Look for someone who is an aimpoint specialist, and who can help you adapt to the finer details of the technique (above and beyond what we’ve covered in this guide). You may only need an hour or two of their time, but it can make a fundamental difference to you deploying the method properly, and potentially improving your round scores by several shots.
However, the old adage of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ definitely applies here. If your putting is already a fairly strong part of your game, then making such a big change towards aimpoint won’t deliver any major benefits, and could even be a backward step. It’s therefore better to adopt aimpoint putting if you really struggle on the greens, or if you’re in a bad spell of form and feel you need a refresh.
Get golf insurance with SportsCover Direct
While putting is probably the lowest-risk part of playing golf, there are still a number of dangers to watch out for across your game as a whole. If you get hurt while out on the course, accidentally injure someone with a tee shot or drive off the fairway, or suffer loss, theft or damage to your clubs, things can quickly get expensive.
That’s why taking out comprehensive golf insurance is so important. At SportsCover Direct, with one of our affordable policies in place, you can give yourself the confidence and peace of mind to concentrate on your game and make improvements. And if you get a hole-in-one, we’ll even pick up the tab for up to £250 of drinks at the bar. Take a moment today to explore our golf insurance policies in more detail.