For more information
AimPoint Technologies: www.aimpointgolf.com
Calling my work around the greens “below average” would be a compliment.
My stroke is inconsistent, an understandable and natural result of too little time spent on the practice green or the golf course. But making matters worse, I read greens like an elementary school student reads a Victor Hugo novel.
So when Louis Bennett, the 28-year-old newly minted head professional at Tetherow Golf Club, told me some time ago that he learned a new way to read greens that could prove useful to me, my interest was piqued.
The method Bennett was speaking of is called AimPoint, and it should ring a bell to many golf enthusiasts. AimPoint Technologies produces those graphical marks that show viewers the line of a putt during Golf Channel broadcasts of professional golf.
AimPoint's founder, Florida resident Mark Sweeney, also devised the green-reading method using many of the same principles that go into the TV graphics.
Bennett took a class in how to teach the method earlier this year, and he wanted to show me how it worked.
The first part of the lesson, and perhaps the most important part, goes something like this: Don't trust what you see.
“An average golfer, we think a little bit about distance (of a putt), but not precisely and it's more of a guess,” said Bennett as we stood on Tetherow's steeply sloped practice green last week on a gorgeous fall afternoon. “But probably most important (to most golfers) is what amount of slope our eyes see.”
This is all wrong because, Bennett says, “the amount of slope I see could be completely different than the amount of slope you see.”
Fair point. How we interpret what we see is often subjective.
But for a golfer of nearly 30 years like me, accepting that what I see may not always be right is not an easy chore.
Trusting that gravity is a constant, AimPoint tries to define the correct putting line by relying on three basic factors: distance from the hole (calculated by pacing), the amount of slope (which is usually a 1 percent to 4 percent grade, judged by feel and a whole lot of practice), and the angle of the putt across the slope (uphill, downhill, etc.).
A golfer plugs in the data of all three into an AimPoint chart, and factoring in ancillary information such as the Stimp measurement (speed) of the green, that chart provides a number of inches left or right from the edge of the hole for the golfer to aim.
I know, it sounds complicated, especially for those of us golfers who need to take off our shoes to count up all our strokes on every hole.
But it does make some sense.
As Bennett walked me through the method, it became clear why feel is so important.
“What our eyes see is not the truth,” Bennett said. “Especially when you consider golf course architects — like (Tetherow designer and Bend resident) David McLay Kidd, one of the more severe from a green complex perspective — they will trick you.”
In an hour, Bennett had time only to show me how to judge putts of less than 20 feet. And even then, it was really only an introduction backed up with little practice.
Not much came naturally for me, especially as I struggled to figure out the angle of the putt against the slope. But slowly I started to home in on the line.
Of course, even once you have the right line, knocking down a putt. Still, even once you have the right line, knocking down a putt comes down to making the right stroke.
This is where I had the most trouble.
Turns out hitting a putt at the proper speed is crucial to all of this. Bennett figures he wants to hit each putt just past the hole. Hit a putt shorter or longer and he has to adjust the aiming point.
“The one thing to remember in this whole thing is you still have to hit good putts,” Bennett explained after one of my putts rocketed past the hole. “But when you have a certainty, it helps you.
“If I give you a range finder, now you can say it is 137 (yards) to that flag. If I took that range finder and sprinkler heads (noting distance to the center of a green) away from you, then it becomes a guessing game.”
The bottom line is this is going to take time to practice.
Will it help somebody like me in the long run? There is no way to tell just yet.
But with some work, maybe there is some hope for next season.
I do know for certain that when you have the touch of a toddler wielding a tree branch, there is nowhere to go but up.