A Putting Error that is easy to spot
in others is also a difficult habit to curb.
The habit of looking up too early to follow your ball changes your shoulder line and causes your putter to move off plane. Typically you will miss the putt left.
When deciding on what to write about putting, I look to the common faults that crop up in my own game. Knowing something is detrimental to your success on the green, and curing yourself of the habit can be a hard task.
What I am talking about here is the insidious habit of looking up too early in your putting stroke.
It is said that no golfer ever looked up on a shot and saw a good one. Although this statement was referring to full shots, it can also be applied to the putting stroke. We all do it from time to time and we know we shouldn't.
I am sure you can relate to a familiar situation when you enquire of your playing partners if they saw the direction of your ball off the tee.
It is not unusual to find that no-one was really paying attention and that your guess of direction is as good as theirs.
When this happens often enough, you start looking up early in order to follow your ball's flight.
In the absence of caddies you are at the mercy of your playing partners' attentiveness. So a bad habit is born and soon it permeates your whole game like a nervous tick.
You become the player and the observer at the same time. Of course, you are not going to lose your ball on the green, but the habit of looking up is now an unfortunate part of your game.
A second reason for the Putting Error is the anxiety to see if you holed the putt. This peeping, or chasing the ball with your eyes, makes achieving your objective of holing the putt less likely.
As you turn towards the hole at impact you change your shoulder line. This has the effect of closing down your putterface and sending your putt left.
Granted there is a stage in your putting stroke when it is useful to look up and observe the roll of your ball.
Should it miss the hole, you will at least have some idea of the break on the return putt. So it is all a question of timing. In a nutshell too soon is never a good idea.
Another advantage of watching the ball off your putterface is making solid contact. Off-centre contact can cause the putterhead to twist.
The weighting of modern putters with their high moment of inertia has minimises these directional errors, but off-centre contact can still play havoc with your distance control.
So how do you cure yourself if you are prone to this Putting Error. There is no real answer other than to be aware of what is happening at impact.
If you can't stop yourself, then a radical cure is to putt while looking at the hole rather than the ball.
1 = Illustration from David Leadbetter Faults and Fixes
2 = www.free.clipartof.com/5500
3 = Photo of Jason Day from Golf Australia Sept. 2005