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Method X

A useful technique for

makeable putts within six feet.


Aiming Method X is one of the ways to aim on sloping greens.

Fair Location

Most holes are cut on a gentle slope. The USGA recommends that the green surface in the holing out area should be as nearly level as possible and of uniform grade, but it need not be exactly level.

The degree of slope for a fair hole location will be governed by the speed of the green. As the green speed increases, the potential for an uncontrollable slope also increases.

Aiming Method X

Aiming Method X is a useful technique for finding the aimpoint (target) for a breaking putt that you have a 50% or better chance of holing. For the average golfer this could be for putts within six feet.

In the close vicinity of the hole there is typically a single break (rather than the possibility of a double-break when you are putting from a greater distance).

Think of a CD which if you tilt it slightly has a single high point (12 o'clock) and a single low point (6 o'clock). The line connecting the high point to the low point is known as the Fall Line, the true downward direction of the slope.

More than One Path

Once you have a reasonable idea of the direction and steepness of the slope at the hole, you will be in a position to decide where to aim. This will depend on hard you intend to stroke the putt as there is more than one path to the hole.

Bear in mind that the faster your ball is travelling at the cup, the less chance there will be of the hole capturing it. For a putt to succeed the ball must drop at least half its diameter before it hits the back wall.

Fall Line

The way to find your aimpoint after determining the Fall Line is to:

  • First move to a position that is 90 degrees to the Fall Line (3 o'clock in the illustration above) and at the same distance as your ball is to the hole.

    Imagine yourself putting directly at the hole and then visualise how far below the hole your ball will break down the slope before it crosses the Fall Line
  • Next use this same margin of break to fix your aimpoint on the high side of the Fall Line.
  • Set up to your putt and align yourself to this aimpoint. The aimpoint becomes your target, not the hole.
  • One way to validate your aimpoint is to visualise the curve of the ball's path backwards from the hole to where it straightens out at your feet. Does this read support how you are aligned?
  • If you have judged correctly, your ball will start off towards your aimpoint and then break with the slope towards the hole. Its entry point will be a side door that represents the true centre of the hole from where you are putting.

By understanding how the local Fall Line through the hole influences the break of your ball, you will increase your chances of holing more makeable putts.

To read more about this technique which I have called Aiming Method X, visit Geoff Mangum's PuttingZone web site and his article titled 'See the Spider'.

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Related Topics

breaking putt

Fall Line

See the Spider