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Homemade Putting Aids
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Geoff Mangum's "Homemade Aids" --
the natural (and cheap) way to learn putting!

Geoff's Eye Liner

Needed - one business card.

Stand with good posture and face the far horizon looking straight out of your face. Hold the card up edgewise so it is flat and horizontal and rests against your nose so it connects both your pupils as you look over the top of the card. Slide the card left or right to position one corner opposite your dominant eye's pupil. Bend at address until the ball comes into view above the card. Turn your head towards a target so that the card pivots in a single plane and runs your eyes in a straight line along the ground to the target. The corner of the card opposite your dominate eye's pupil should arrive at the target. Close the nondominate eye to see this more clearly. If your head turn runs your line of sight in a straight line but sends your look off to the side of the target, your setup is not aimed squarely at the target. If your head turn does not run your line of sight in a straight line or remain in a single plane in the pivoting, then your head turn is askew, so repeat the head turn so that the top center of the head does not change position in space during the turn. Try this over a line on the floor. If your eyes are positioned directly above the ball, the card will have to get vertical as you bend in order to see the ball and your head turn will move the card like a Ferris Wheel in a vertical plane. If your eyes are located slightly inside the ball, the card will not quite get vertical when the ball comes into view, but the card will still trace a straight line as you turn the head, but will do so this time in a Tilt-a-Whirl plane instead of a Ferris Wheel vertical plane. (estimated cost=$0.00).

Geoff's Inclineometer for Complete Idiots

Needed - one Bottle of Coke.

Drink the Coke until the dark liquid is down where the glass or plastic sides are vertical. Get the liquid level in the bottle and mark the level with your thumbnail. Facing uphill on the green, place the bottle's bottom down flush with the surface and your thumbnail downhill. The extent the liquid level rises above your thumbnail indicates the slope's incline. Roughly speaking, if the bottle is 3" in diameter, every 1/32nd" the level rises above your thumbnail is 1 degree of slope. An 1/8th" rise is about 5 degrees - pretty severe. A 1/4th" rise is a ludicrous 10 degrees of slope. This info isn't all that useful, but it's interesting anyway. For the technically "inclined", the height of rise equals TAN(degrees of slope) * Bottle Radius. A bottle twice as fat or 6" in diameter reads 1 degree of slope with about 1/16th" rise of the level (twice as big a bottle, the level rises twice as far for the same slope). You can use any container plus water, so long as the container has fairly vertical sides. (estimated cost=$1.00).

Geoff's Drunken Sailor Deck Reader

Needed - jar cap and marble.

Place the jar cap on the green top-side-down and put the marble inside the cap. The marble will roll to the bottom of the tilted cap. Use this in practice near a hole to find the green's fallline straight up and down thru the cup. Also works with a little water instead of a marble (probably better). (estimated cost=$0.05).

Don Pooley's Pop-n-Drop Gate

Needed - two tee pegs.

Make a gate with the two pegs just past the ball towards the hole on a straight putt in the 3 to 10-foot range. Putt the ball so the putterface hits the ball and then stops on the two teg pegs simultaneously, indicating a square face thru impact. Sink as many in a row as you have the patience for. (estimated cost=$0.00).

The Sword of Justice

Needed - one putter with a straight shaft.

When standing behind the ball to see the line of the putt, use the edge of the shaft as a visual "ruler" to connect the ball and the target in a straight line by holding the putter up in front of you at arms' length. The putter shaft does not have to be vertical as in plumb bobbing, and can be leaning in any way that connects the ball and target. Use this "view" of the line with your dominate eye to examine the ground for "spots" to help you see this line again once you walk to the ball and take your setup. As you walk to the ball, keep the shaft connecting the ball and target as you walk the line into the setup by either lowering the shaft's angle as you approach the ball or by drawing the shaft closer to the eye in order to keep the ball and target connected. As you near the ball, the target will leave your view as you focus on the ball with the shaft, as the shaft continues to cover the same line along the ground. Notice how the shaft divides the ball in half with the line of the putt, and drop the putterhead directly behind the middle of the ball and point the toe and edge of the face into the middle of the ball on this line. Step around to the side of the ball and rotate the putterhead until the face is square thru the same line. Adopt your stance and grip. Don't believe it? Have a friend hold the putter steady and walk back behind the ball and see for yourself that the face is aimed squarely at the target. (estimated cost=$0.00).

Head Pivot Checker

Needed - one hand and one line.

 

 

Make a tube opening in your fist on the same side as your dominate eye and hold it up to your dominate eye like a spyglass pointed straight and level out of your face. Set up over a line, such as a line on the floor or a sidewalk or a chalkline on a practice green. Bend to look at the ball (or the location where the ball would rest in your setup) until the ball comes into view thru the tube. While keeping the top center of your head still in one location in space, pivot your head towards the target until the target comes into view inside the tube. The view along the ground during the pivot will trace a straight lineand the final view will show you where your setup is aimed. Learn the feeling of your chin staying the same distance from your shoulderframe while the top center of your head remains fixed in space as you pivot the head, and then try the same without the tube. (estimated cost=$0.00).

Geoff's Putting Cheat-Sheet

Needed - one standard-size sheet of paper 8.5" x 11".

Draw a horizontal 8.5" line across the middle to divide the sheet into two equal section 8.5" x 5.5" and 8.5" x 5.5". Label the four corners starting with the bottom-left and going clockwise A-B-C-D. Label the mid-line on the A-B edge as X and the midline on the C-D edge as Y. Two inches away from Y towards C, mark the edge Z. Lay the sheet of paper on the ground, place the ball on Z, and set up to the sheet with your big toes at A and B. Set the sweetspot of the putter behind the ball. Move the sweetspot back and thru along the edge C-D to send the ball out along the edge and away over C. Watch to see your hands moving above the edge A-B. The midline X-Y is the bottom of your arc, so keep the pivot of your body stable over this line. Your eyes' horizon line should be matching the edge C-D. This pretty much works for everyone whose eyes-to-shoulders body is about 8.5" to 9". To check this, hold the sheet up to your eyes so the 11" side matches your two pupils. The bottom edge of the sheet should just about reach your collar bone below your chin. (estimated cost=$0.01).

Geoff's Truth Board

Needed - one 2"x4" plank 6' to 8' long.

Putt the ball down the plank; get serious: cut the plank in half and try again (estimated cost=$2).

Geoff's Putting Rail

Needed - a yardstick

. Alternative to the above: use a yardstick; putt the ball from near one end off the other; if necessary, tape a piece of napkin to the ball end so the ball will sit still (estimated cost=$1).

Geoff's Putting Track

Needed - two clubs.

Lay two clubs down on the carpet or green to form a channel with the shafts aimed at the hole; putt the ball along the channel; narrow the channel to test yourself (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's Line it-Drain It Tool

Needed - one toilet roll cardboard tube.

Use a cheap brand so the roll has a fat diameter; it just so happens that quite a few of these tubes are the SAME diameter as a golf ball (1.68"); seat the ball in one end of the tube so you have a nice line of dimples around the ball's equator and get the old Sharpie pen out (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's Putt by the Book

Needed - a phone book.

Lay a thick book just outside the ball with the spine aimed parallel to the target; make a stroke so the toe glides along the book spine but does not touch it; try a phone book; also works with the 2"x4" plank (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's Head Fixer

Needed - a wall or post or doorjamb.

Setup in front of the wall or in the doorjamb and place the top of your head against the surface so the back of your head is flat or horizontal and your gaze is straight down out of your face; let your arms hang naturally straight down and setup to an imaginary ball below your eyes; the toe end of your putter should not quite reach the wall; make a pendulum-like backstroke with the head kept still and then just relax the arms and see if the putter free-falls thru the bottom without contacting the wall (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's NoGate Scandal

Needed - a phone book.

Position the phone book this time inside the ball so that any stroke path inside back or thru can't work; also works with the 2"x4" plank (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's Pendulum Stroke Trainer

Needed - fishing line and a heavy weight or sinker.

Attach the fishing sinker at the end of a length of string or line; wrap the string's end around your index finger and grip a putter as normal; forget the putter and try to move the weight smoothly back and then thru; also can be used to make sure eyes are vertically positioned above the ball (estimated cost=$1). [Stolen surreptiously from the LPGA's Jane Crafter!]

Geoff's Touch Trainer

Needed - one tee peg.

Set a tee peg upside down and putt balls to it so the ball touches it but does not knock it over; start at 2' and keep going back 1' at a time as far back as you can go still touching the tee (even if it falls over, just not on purpose or so fast the putt couldn't have fallen in) (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's Set 'Em Up Square!

Needed - one linoleum floor with square lines.

 

Try the kitchen; practice setting up with toeline square, knees, hips, shoulders square, and eyes over the intersection; then sight along the line to make sure your headturn is not guiding your line of sight off the line (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's Red Scare Breaking-Putt Target

Needed - one domino.

Set the domino 1" out from the lip so it will fall straight into the hole on the line your ball should follow as it enters the cup (say, 4 o'clock, as an example of a right-to-left break), then putt the ball along the break line with the intention of toppling the domino backwards into the hole (estimated cost=$0.25).

Geoff's PuttLine Aim System

Needed - two straight pieces of coathanger about 8" long each and a ball of string.

 

Bend one end of each length of coathanger with neddlenose pliers to make a small loop; tie the string to one loop and stick the wire in the green behind the hole several inches; stretch the string back along a straight putt and anchor it with the other piece of wire stuck into the green; place your ball a foot or two ahead of this last wire and use the elevated string to train your eye's in sighting and your online stroke (estimated cost=$1).

Geoff's Square Impact Doohickey

Needed - two balls.

Place two balls on the green side by side so they touch; putt both balls at once, impacting both with the square putterface at the same instant - anything less, and you get (you guessed it!) FEEDBACK! (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's True Roll Thingamabob

Needed - one empty sewing-thread spool.

The spool has two raised "wheels" at either end - putt these two wheels with square putterface impact; anything less and the spool spins crazily like a dreadle top! (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's Straight-Shooter Thang

Needed - a wooden ruler.

Putt the end of the ruler so the ruler slides lengthwise; requires square impact with putterface along back planar surface of ruler edge and also requires low and level blow (estimated cost=$0.25).

Geoff's Hav-a-Havanna Tube

Needed - one plastic cigar tube.

Putt it lengthwise along the surface to train square impact (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's Impact Marker

Needed - greenskeeper's fertilizing schedule.

Practice putting just after the greenskeeper spreads fertilizer pellets on the green and waters it; you'll soon see whether you're using the sweetspot of not, but don't lick it off (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's Rabbit Run

Needed - two balls.

Putt one ball (rabbit); putt the second ball (hound) so it just touches the first to train consistent distance control (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's Golden Triangle

Needed - one bathrobe sash.

Tie the sash around both forearms as they should be separated in your stroke; then at address use your muscle tension to separate the forearms and pull the sash taut; then make a stroke, holding this tension in place to train one way to keep the triangle intact back and thru (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's Armpit Stuffer

Needed - a golf glove, or a golf ball.

Stick it in your armpit and make a stroke without dropping it; stops that goofy exaggerated follow-thru and keeps the triangle intact only with a shoulderframe-stroke rocking back and thru; use two balls, one for each arm pit (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's FatFree Cup Reducer

Needed - two tee pegs.

M ake a gate at the lip as narrow as you want down to one ball width plus iota (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's Thar-She-Blows Hole Harpoon

Needed - one sharp no. 2 pencil and one rubber band.

Using the rubber band, affix the "harpoon" on the putter shaft so it points parallel to the putterface, then set up and fire! (estimated cost=$0.10)

Geoff's Too-Sweet! Bands

Needed - two rubber bands.

Wrap the bands around the putterhead to frame the sweetspot; position them as close as you dare (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's Putting Party Trick

Needed - one empty golfball sleeve box.

Rip off the top tab and position the butt of the box against a baseboard; putt three balls into the box from 8' and win a door prize! (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's Them's-the-Breaks Trainer

Needed - one tee peg and one extra ball.

Iidentify the break point of the putt and mark it on the low side with a tee peg; set a ball at the rim on the low side of the entry point; putt a ball so it goes above the tee peg and then takes the break to the hole and drops without hitting the ball on the rim (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's Repeater Da-Feeter

Needed - a ruler and a rubber band.

From your square setup measure the distance from the ball straight back to a line across your front foot's big toe parallel to the putt line; place the ruler against the bottom of your shoe (no spikes) so the ruler extends this same length less one inch and secure the ruler with a rubber band over the arch of your foot; set up to a putt with feet square (no open stances) and ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS send the ball out of your setup over exactly the same spot just beyond the end of the ruler (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's Pickle Jar Set

Needed - three colored, flat, round, rubber jar opening grippers.

Try to find grippers with a diameter about the same as a putting cup; take them to the green and toss them out in different directions and distances; putt one ball each to each target so it stops on the rubber- also works indoors! (estimated cost=$1).

Geoff's Anti-Explosion Device

Needed - one length of string about 1.5' long.

Lay the string about 1' beyond the cup perpendicular to the line and try not to let any misses go over the string (estimated cost=$0.05).

Geoff's Touchy-Feely Gear

Needed - two lengths of string as above.

Place one length behind and one in front of the cup todefine your total "shot-dispersion" pattern and keep all putts inside the lines; can be used without a hole (estimated cost=$0.05)

Geoff's Secret

Needed - one extra ball.

Place the ball between your hind wrist and the putter handle and putt without letting go - works just like Norman's, but shamelessly pilfered by me from Walter Hagen (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's Other Secret

Needed - one no. 2 pencil (not sharpened).

Stuff the pencil down inside the back of your left (forward) glove to brace your left wrist and prevent breakdown; also works with a small ruler (estimated cost=$0.05).

Geoff's Putt-Putt Tunnel

Needed - a cardboard shoebox.

Cut out two arches about 3" wide on opposite sides of the narrow ends of the box; turn the box upside down and place a ball at one archway; putt a second ball thru the other archway from whatever distance and knock the first ball straight one foot into a putting cup to train focus and line control (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's TruBreak Indicator

Needed - dew on the green.

Putt and watch, just like magic! (estimated cost=$0).

Geoff's Quik-and-Dirty Stimpmeter

Needed - a yardstick, two 32" dowel rods 1/2" in diameter, some wood glue, a hacksaw.

Cut 2" off each rod and save the 2" pieces; glue the two dowel rods about 1/8" apart down the length of the yardstick in parallel; create a launch notch at the top by gluing the two 2" pieces of rod at the top end of the parallel dowels so their centers are 1/2" apart, perpendicular to the two long rods, with the lower of the two short pieces butted flush against the top of the two long rods; bevel the bottom ends of the dowels so they rest flat on the green; set the ball in the notch and lift the back end of the ruler until the ball center is aboput 10" above the surface and rolls out of the notch on its own into the channel of the two rods; let the ball roll off the end of the rods (at a speed of about 6.5" per second, or 78 inches per second, or 15 revolutions per second) onto the surface across a level run of green; repeat this for three consistent results and then go to the other side of the run and take three consistent readings in the other direction; make a wild guess what this means to your putting (estimated cost=$3).

Geoff's Even Quiker-and-Dirtier Stimpmeter

Needed - two dowel rods.

Skip the yardstick, glue, beveling, and notch; just use them like chopsticks and hold the end so the ball's center is about 10" high at the 30" mark, using your thumb to pin the ball against the rods, and then let 'er go! - pretty much the same deal! (estimated cost=$1).

Much more to come!

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