The proper putting setup is an important ingredient in a golfer’s success. Setting the eyes in the correct position is one of the critical factors that’s often overlooked. On that subject, there are two schools of thought.
One method is to set the eyes directly over the ball, along the target line. If you putt this way, a center-shafted putter is probably the right tool to use. With your eyes directly over the ball, you’re setting up to take the putter straight back and straight through, never deviating from the target line. A center-shafted putter is made precisely for this type of stroke because the clubhead is balanced to swing like a pendulum. Brad Faxon and Mark O’Meara putt this way.
The other technique is to situate your eye line inside the target line so that you look out toward the ball. If you’re more comfortable in this position, a heel-shafted putter is probably best. Ben Crenshaw and Lee Trevino have had tremendous success with this method over the years. When Crenshaw putts, for example, his putterhead swings slightly inside the line, squares up at impact, then swings back inside on the followthrough, much like the arc on a full swing. The putterhead effectively swings like a door opening and closing on a fixed hinge. The fact that the shaft is in the heel of the clubhead accomplishes this stroke with immeasurable ease, but timing is at a premium.
To discover which stroke is best for you, be sure to experiment with your eye line setup, but have the right tool in your hands to complete the job.
Contributing Instruction Editor Joe Buttitta is a teaching professional at Westlake Golf Course in Southern California.