When putting expert Marius Filmalter studied and analyzed more than 65,000 putting strokes using SAM PuttLab technology, he found that the starting line of any putt is determined by the angle of the putterface up to 95 percent of the time. The only surprise there is that the percentage isn’t even higher.
According to Filmalter, the logic of his findings is lost on many golfers. He says, “It sounds simple, but instead of paying attention to the face, most weekend players worry about their grip, stroke shape, stance and timing – things that, combined, make up only 5 percent of what influences putting direction.” Too often putting instruction emphasizes all of these other elements at the expense of the angle of the face at impact. Filmalter says, “The truth is, you can putt almost any way you like as long as the putterface is square to the target line all the way through impact.”
Filmalter has a simple way to help you make sure your putterface is square through impact. First, he says to sole your putter on the practice green, then push a tee into the ground just in front of the toe and another tee into the ground just behind the heel. You’ve created your gateway. Now place a ball a few inches behind the gate. Then set up to the ball behind the gate as you normally would. Filmalter says, “Your goal is to putt the ball and swing your putter through the ‘gate’ without touching either tee…keep at it until you can swing your putter cleanly through the tees while also rolling the ball straight.”
Which tee you strike (if you do) will give you insight into your stroke’s flaws. If you hit the tee near the toe, your stroke is too in-to-out, which can leave the face open at impact and cause a miss to the right. If you hit the tee near the heel, your stroke is too out-to-in, closing the face and likely missing left.
With a square putterface at impact, you’ll start the ball straight on line and into the hole more often.