If you’re an avid golf fan, there’s no doubt you’re also an avid watcher of the Golf Channel. There’s nothing better than sitting down and watching our favorite golfers play in the Major Championships like the Masters and the British Open.
When you watch golf, though, sometimes you see players doing things that quite literally baffle the mind; one of those things is when golfers hold up their putters in front of their eyes while addressing their putt. If you were new to the game of golf, you’d be forgiven for thinking these guys were crazy; but to those of us who play, we know very well what these golfers are doing.
Since the dawn of time, the “plumb bob method” has been around and helps golfers determine the way in which their putt will break; but does the plumb bob method actually work?
Or is it some kind of ancient voodoo technique that actually has no scientific basis behind it to back it up?
In this article, I will answer once and for all the question of whether or not this ancient method of determining the lie of the land actually works. We’ll take a look at:
- The history of the plumb bob
- How to use the plumb bob
- Checking your putter
- Instructions on alignment and
- Practical ways to implement plumb bobbing
The Plumb Bob; Where It All Began
- 1 The Plumb Bob; Where It All Began
- 2 5 Easy Steps For Using The Plumb Bob
- 3 Checking Your Putter Before Plumb Bobbing
- 4 Practice Plumb Bobbing Before Taking It To The Course
- 5 Plum Bob FAQs
So, where did the plumb bob method originate, and how long ago was it being used? Well, you might be surprised to know that, in actual fact, the method of plumb bobbing can be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt.
According to the Brittanica Dictionary, “the plumb bob is a light line with a weight (plumb bob) at one end that defines a vertical line when suspended next to a workpiece.” Plumb is derived from the Latin plumbum, or “lead,” the material that substituted stone as the weight for the bob or plummet.
While an end-weighted string defines the vertical, its direct use for plumbing walls (making them vertical) is clumsy. The Egyptians invented a tool resembling the letter E, from which a “plumb line” was suspended from the upper outboard part of the E. When the device was placed against a wall, the wall was determined to be vertical when the string just touched the lower outboard portion of the E.
Oddly, this helpful tool was seemingly forgotten for many centuries and reappeared only in modern times, remarkably on the golf course of all places.
5 Easy Steps For Using The Plumb Bob
So we’ve figured out that plumb bobbing is a method used by golfers to determine which way putts will break on the greens. Basically, plumb bobbing works by squatting down and holding your putter in front of your eyes; The idea is that the way the putter appears to hang according to your dominant eye is the way in which the putt should theoretically break.
Does it work? Some golfers swear by it, while others believe it’s nothing more than a gimmick used in ancient times long before technology started to dominate our game. So for those golfers who are still sitting on the fence, here are five essential steps you need to take to give the plumb bob method the best possible chance of reading the greens correctly.
The first thing you need to do is walk at least 10 to 15 feet behind your ball, so you can check if there are any obvious breaks in the green. An excellent pro-tip is looking for a water hazard or any “pooling ” of water that may be close to the green. If a water hazard is off to the right of the green, that would generally signify that your putt should break towards the water.
It’s important to note that this first step doesn’t require you to use the plumb bob method; it’s simply a “preparatory” method that provides you with some preliminary information before you start the more serious technique of using your putter to plumb bob.
Now that you gathered some preliminary info on your putt, move between 6 to 8 feet behind your golf ball. Hold your putter with your thumb and forefinger just below where the grip touches the shaft. Make sure the putter is hanging directly in front of you and perpendicular to the green.
The next thing you need to do is squat down and line up the putter so that the shaft intersects the hole and your golf ball. If done correctly, your golf ball should appear to be below the shaft of your putter, and the hole should appear at the top.
Now that you’re in the correct position use your dominant eye to look directly at the hole. If you’re unsure of which is your dominant eye, simply hold your thumb up in line with a distant object. Now, look at the object through each eye individually. The eye which makes the object appear closer to you is your dominant eye.
Ok, so you’re ready to read the green. By simply looking at which side of the putter the hole appears on is the way in which the putt should break. For example, if the hole seems to be on the right of the green, then theoretically, your putt should break to the right.
The easiest way to determine whether or not the plumb bob method actually works is to find an area of your golf club’s practice green that has a known break in it. The other factor is that you need to trust your own eyes when it comes to using the plumb bob method. Sometimes it’s tough to see the break in the green with your naked eye but practicing this method adds another layer of defense against a bad read.
Lastly, the plumb bob method only works for relatively straight puts that only have one break in them. If your putt has more than one break, the plumb bob method will be of no use to you. In this case, you’re stuck with your own naked eyes and other markers, such as the location of nearby bunkers or water hazards which can also help you to determine the break of your putt.
Checking Your Putter Before Plumb Bobbing
Making sure that your putter is aligned correctly and that you understand how your putter hangs is crucial in giving the plumb bob method the best possible chance to work. This stage of the process is the first and most important step, so whatever you do, don’t skip it because it will inevitably lead to bad reads on the greens and even worse putting results.
The first thing you need to check is whether or not your putter actually hangs straight. Believe it or not, golfers, I won’t name names, have been known to throw the occasional putter in frustration which could lead to a bent shaft; there’s not much point in using the plumb bob method if your putter shaft is already bent.
The easiest way to check is by finding a straight line or pole and holding your putter up next to it to see if it’s actually straight or not. However, the best way to check if your putter is straight would be to take it to a club fitting expert. There they have access to instruments and software that can help to determine if your putter shaft is “sitting true.”
Each putter hangs differently, too, because the head shapes and the weight of putters can vary significantly. Many putters these days have “Mallett style” heads which tend to swing toe-side in; this is why it’s absolutely imperative to check how your putter hangs.
Practice Plumb Bobbing Before Taking It To The Course
Like anything new to you, it’s essential to take the time to practice the plumb bob method on the practice greens. Far too many amateur golfers spend too much of their time on the practice range, hitting clubs that they feel comfortable with.
Even if you forget the plumb bob method for a second, putting is the most important area of your game and accounts for a large amount of the wasted stroke you take out on the course. A good rule of thumb is to spend the same amount of time on the practice green as you do on the practice range; this way, you’re sure not to have your putting lagging behind the rest of your game.
Now when it does come to practicing the plumb bob method, its really quite straightforward, but in saying that, it will take some time to feel comfortable; also, remember that there’s no pressure on you to use the plumb bob method; if you simply feel that it’s not working then give it a miss and work on other areas of your putting like lag putting or three-footers.
Practice the plumb bob method on different lengths of putts as well as uphill and downhill putts. Practicing this method on various putts will help you paint a better picture of how effective the method actually is, if at all.
Don’t forget that the plumb bob will not work on putts that have two or more breaks; it’s only effective for one break putts.
Plum Bob FAQs
In case I haven’t answered all your questions, here are a few of the most frequently asked questions that high-handicap and beginner golfers ask. Hopefully, these will provide you with the answer you’re looking for.
Can You Use The Plumb Bob On Uphill Putts?
Using the plumb bob method on downhill and uphill putts is about as useless as flyscreen windows on a submarine. The method only works on relatively flat greens and putts with only one break. I would also caution against using the plumb bob method on longer putts, as these putts can be notoriously hard to read and more than likely will have more than two breaks.
What Is The AimPoint Method For Putting?
The Aimpoint process uses a similar technique and methodology to the plumb bob method, but instead of using the putter to line up your putts and determine the break, players use their fingers. AimPoint is quite a unique way to read greens and requires you to use your feet and hands to read the putts correctly.
The method actually starts by checking the lie of the green by evaluating the feeling of your feet as you stand on the elevated area. You need to ensure you’re standing directly behind your ball for this to work.
Let’s say you feel considerably more pressure on your right foot compared to your left; this would suggest that the green is sloping from left to right. Once you’ve determined the slope of the green, you then need to grade it; if you grade the slope as two, you hold up two fingers to the left of the hole, which will become the starting line for your putt.
Now it’s fair to say this method is unreliable and subjective, making it even more tricky to use. That being said, if it works for you, then, by all means, use the AimPoint method no matter how silly it looks.
How Does Plumb Bobbing Work?
The plumb bob is a simple method that creates a vertical line to help you determine the lie of the green. The line is formed between you and the hole, and you use your dominant eye to gauge the slope and break of the green.
The Egyptians used a rope thousands of years ago, and the same method is still used by golfers today, but instead of using a rope or some string, golfers use the shaft of the putter. Does the plumb bob method work? Well, that depends on who you ask; I know golfers who love it and golfers who think it’s a whole lot of nonsense.