Posted by Pat O'Brien - www.patobriengolf.com
Pat O'Brien is the putting coach of two of the PGA Tour’s best putters, 2007 Masters Champion Zach Johnson and Ryder Cupper Vaughn Taylor. Find more of Pat's teachings and DVD's at www.patobriengolf.com
Eye dominance can play a role in putting, but only if you allow it. I do not want to downplay peoples' concerns about it, rather I want to relate my years of experience in how to neutralize it. I also want to warn you about how you can avoid it, which will get into what kind of putter I believe you should use.
Let me start with eye dominance in my own putting. I am right eye dominant and consequently, I am predisposed to aiming to the right with my putter. I then swivel my head and look across my body at my target, effectively throwing my left eye out of the way so that my right eye can take over. This is something that I will have to be aware of for as long as I play golf. The left eye dominant people that I work with usually have the opposite problem. They aim left of their target and then use their left eye to focus on it as they look away from their bodies. Please understand that these are general statements. I have seen left eye dominant people aim right and vice versa. But to be honest, I have never paid much attention to any of this, even though it makes for interesting conversation. I am more concerned with how to aim properly.
There are putter fitters out there who believe that you may aim a certain shape better than another, or that a certain amount of offset or the kind of neck on the putter can help. I am sure that this is all true and that they are wonderful fitting systems. If you do not have access to these, or if you do not want to spend the money, I think I can get you to aim better by following some principles. Again, I am talking about having success with the hundreds of students that have come to me over the years, so it is not theory I am discussing.
It is no surprise to most that I advocate a SeeMore putter and their system. I make no apologies for this, but I also have some students who do not use a SeeMore. It does not matter to me what they use, as long as they know where they are aiming. A SeeMore putter in its simplest form has what is called Rifle Scope Technology, which is a straight in shaft with two white lines and a red dot under the shaft on the heel of the putter. Trap the shaft between the two white lines, cover the red dot and you are square to your target. Much like aiming a gun, the sightlines are clean and undistorted. I do not think I could aim a gun very well if the scope was offset from the barrel! As I do not want to turn this into an outright pitch for SeeMore, please feel free to research the company on your own.
All of this bears a point: if the shaft is straight in, and the aiming line is on top of the putter and not behind the shaft, then you are more likely to get your nose down the shaft and keep it there. As I wrote in my "Importance of a Level Spine"post, if your shaft is vertical and your nose is down the shaft, then your eyes are parallel to your aiming line. Very simple. It has been my experience that people who use offset putters, where the aiming line is behind the shaft, tend to aim right because their eyes tend to gravitate to the aiming line. This places the nose behind the shaft, so the eyes are cocked to the right. Payne Stewart was this way when he putted with an offset blade. I have some good players who get this way, and I am always correcting their eyelines. (Maybe they should switch too!)
Now that your eyes are parallel, it is time to learn how to look at the target correctly. The one drill that Zach and Vaughn and now Ted do weekly is to get on a chalk line, usually on Tuesday of a tournament week. Using that, or even a line on your floor at home, will teach you how to look down your line. The advantage of the chalk line, if your Superintendent will allow it, is that you always line up square and you see eight foot putts go in repeatedly. Good for confidence! When you are on the line, trace your eyes down it. They will triangulate to a point that is still on that line. They are now working in concert, therefore neither eye is dominant. You now know how to aim. You can also practice on this line by closing your dominant eye. This will give you a clearer indication of how your head needs to swivel, and it may even strengthen the other eye.
To summarize, when your spine is level, your hands are centered to your body, your shaft is vertical and your nose is down the shaft, your eyes are parallel to the aiming line on the putter. When you look down your target line correctly, you have now effectively neutralized any eye dominance. If you insist on using an offset putter, with the shaft angling backwards, then you are feeding the beast, so to speak. I am not saying you cannot aim properly in this scenario, I just happen to believe it is that much harder. Speaking from experience, of course. Putt great!