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What People Get Wrong About Aimpoint


AimPoint Takes Longer Than Traditional Green-Reading
Let’s imagine an alternate universe where everyone read greens by quickly feeling the slope in the line of their putt and then were finished with the read.  Then imagine I advocated for everyone to instead squat behind the ball and have a look, then walk to the far side of the hole and squat down again and have second look, then walk to the low side and have a third look.  I would imagine people would want to flog me in public for teaching something which would bring the pace of play to a grinding halt. Well that happens to be the world we live in, and AimPoint dramatically shortens that process by eliminating altogether the squatting and looking process in exchange for a single step.  The only faster read is to not read at all.

AimPoint is a Just A Plumb-Bob
The plumb-bob is a method to determine the direction of slope only and does not tell a player where to aim.  And the bigger the slope value the more wrong the plumb-bob becomes.  It also doesn’t adjust for changes in stimp and consider whether the putt is uphill or downhill.  AimPoint gives not only the break direction but also a mathematically correct break amount regardless of the amount of slope, green speed or capture speed.

AimPoint Only Works With One Capture Speed
The AimCharts developed in 2007 were based on the assumption of a 12 inch past-the-hole capture speed.  However, the Express Read allows for any capture speed the player chooses by simply adjusting the amount of arm bend.  The player can change his desired speed from putt to putt depending on the situation and still get the correct read.

You Have To Know The Stimp To Use AimPoint
With The AimPoint Express Read the actual stimp value is irrelevant as the player makes all necessary speed adjustments via arm bend.  This allows for a combination of stimp speeds, downhill and uphill putts, and varying capture speeds all to be handled with a single movement of the arm.

AimPoint Is Too Complicated
The AimPoint Express read was designed for juniors who haven’t learned angles yet in school and is as simple as a two step read.  You just feel the slope then hold up the same number of fingers and you magically get a mathematically correct read.  I have yet to meet anyone who couldn’t grasp the concept and have taught juniors as young as 8 years old.

Ben Hogan Didn’t Need AimPoint So Why Do I?
This is my favorite.  Hogan also didn’t need Pro V’s, metal woods, yardage books, a mental coach, or a physical trainer. But the reality is that performance and technology will continue to advance because everyone is looking for a competitive advantage, and once one player gets it the field needs to eventually catch up or get left behind.  As an amateur you don’t really need any of those things, unless you care about your score.  As a competitive player, ignoring advances might just be the beginning of the end.

Burnham Enjoys ‘Veteran’s’ Day at San Diego C.C.

By Bill Fields

At the ripe old age of 21, Sarah Burnham is one of the elder stateswoman in the Round of 32 at the 117th U.S. Women’s Amateur. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

U.S. Women’s Amateur

Sarah Burnham loves country music, and her status among the match-play qualifiers in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship was ripe for a tune.

Perhaps “Feeling Old at 21” would be appropriate, a song performed by her favorite artist, Dierks Bentley.

That certainly would have summed up Burnham and her Wednesday opponent at San Diego Country Club, Tatiana Wijaya: a pair of 21-year-olds who were among the oldest match-play qualifiers. (Maria Torres, 22, of Puerto Rico, was the oldest of the dozen golfers over 20 who advanced into the 64-player draw.)

Said Wijaya of the youthful field: “They are young, they are hitting the ball so far already, and they’re good. The standard has become higher.”

Burnham, of Maple Grove, Minn., and Wijaya, of Indonesia, played a tight match, the margin never greater than two holes. Despite a bogey-bogey finish, Burnham won, 1 up, to set up a Round-of-32 encounter with rising UCLA sophomore Lilia Kha-Tu Vu.

Competing in her fourth U.S. Women’s Amateur, Burnham, a rising senior at Michigan State University, advanced beyond the Round of 64 for the first time.

“I didn’t know anyone here, and now I pretty much know a lot of the field,” said Burnham of her evolution in the championship. “I think it’s really cool that the younger girls can compete with us. They usually have really good short games, which is very helpful for them.”

It was a bit of power that helped Burnham defeat Wijaya. The back-and-forth contest was all square after the Minnesotan won the par-4 15th hole with a par. Then, on the 525-yard, par-5 16th hole, Burnham reached the green with a 250-yard 3-wood second shot and two-putted for a birdie to go 1 up.

“That was a big hole for me,” said Burnham, who nearly squandered her advantage on No. 17 when she was too timid on a 50-foot birdie putt and it rolled back to her feet. She had to scramble for a bogey, making an 8-foot putt, but halved the hole when Wijaya also three-putted.

Burnham gave Wijaya another opening on No. 18 when she was still in the trees left of the fairway after two shots. But Wijaya hit her approach from the fairway into a bunker and made a bogey. Burnham hit her fourth shot, a 54-yard wedge, 3 feet from the flagstick and made the putt for a 5 and victory.

“I felt a little pressure there,” Burnham said of her mindset after her poor putt on the 17th. “But I knew she was kind of in the same situation. I was kind of lucky that she bogeyed the same two holes I did finishing. But that’s how match play works. The pressure is on when it counts.”

Regardless of how she fares the rest of the championship, the Midwesterner is going to enjoy her surroundings.

“I really enjoy the weather here,” Burnham said. “August is really nice at home, but the other day it was 50 degrees and raining. It’s nice to have the same nice weather every day and no bad conditions. It’s a treat.”

Bill Fields is a Connecticut-based freelance writer whose work frequently appears on USGA websites.

Picking a Line, What’s the Point

by Mark Sweeney

From time to time I see the old debate about which is more important, Pace or Line, pop up and it for some reason always seems to annoy me.  I’ve written a blog on this topic before and the general consensus seems to be pace, but in reality if you want to make putts they are both important and have to balance each other.  In other words, there is certainly a range or window of potential lines that will result in a holed putt if the speed matches it.

But what gets under my skin is when people say, “What’s the point in choosing a line if you don’t know the pace”, as if there is a wide variety of possible lines which will work.  And when they show the Putt Zone on TV it always look way too big to me based on my experience and so seems misleading (AimPoint was simulating Zones for Golf Channel as early as 2007).  So I finally decided to do the simulation so you all can see exactly how big that window is for a variety of putts.

Let’s start with a very reasonable assumption–no one would purposely hit a putt at it’s maximum speed or even close to it because a miss would go 8 feet past the hole and the effective hole diameter would be absolutely tiny.  So there’s no point in including a maximum velocity line in our usable range of where to aim.  In reality the effective capture speed intentionally used by the vast majority of players on PGA Tour in stroke play is somewhere between die in the hole speed and 2.5 feet past the hole maximum.  There are some players that go up to 3 feet past the hole but they are statistically very small.  Any further than that introduces 3-putts and reduces capture width by more than 50%.

The table below shows the different aim points for 10 and 20-foot putts based on how hard you want to hit the putt.

Stimp 8 AimPoint in Inches
10′ Putts 0′ Past 1′ Past 2.5′ Past Range
1% Slope 4.1 2.3 1.5 2.5
2% Slope 10.4 7.2 5.1 5.3
20′ Putts 0′ Past 1′ Past 2.5′ Past Range
1% Slope 9.6 7.6 5.8 3.8
2% Slope 22.0 17.7 14.4 7.6

What you can take from this chart is that at stimp 8 on 10 foot putts, your average window for usable aim points is a little less than a cup wide (3.9″) , and on 20 foots putts its almost a cup and a half (5.7″).  Anything outside of that window would either be short of the hole or hit more than 3 feet past the hole–both poor strategies.

At faster the stimps the window gets a little larger.  Here are the same putts at stimp 10:

Stimp 10 AimPoint in Inches
10′ Putts 0′ Past 1′ Past 2.5′ Past Range
1% Slope 5.8 3.5 2.5 3.3
2% Slope 14.1 10.3 7.3 6.8
20′ Putts 0′ Past 1′ Past 2.5′ Past Range
1% Slope 13.1 10.3 8.6 4.5
2% Slope 28.8 23.5 19.5 9.3

You can see at stimp 10 the average size of the aim window increases by about an inch–5.1″ at 10′ and 6.9″ at 20′.

There is a zone or window of aim/speed combinations which work, but that window is not very wide for practical purposes.  So when you hear “Pace Determines Line”, that is only true inside of a window that is usually one to two cups wide depending on the length of the putt.  If you don’t know that window, then it’s irrelevant what speed you choose because the putt can’t go it.