There’s more to a putter than it would seem…

Read an article discussing optics and their application to putting, pretty amazing stuff.

All the colors, shapes and dots found on putters aren’t some designers way of starting a new trend in golf nor are they some nifty marketing ploy to make some putters stand out more than others, well, not totally.. 🙂 They are in fact the results of some mad optics scientist working for club manufacturers being paid in spare body parts (see Frankenstein..).

Whenever we look over a putt, everything we see, the ball, the cup, breaks and contours in the green, the perceived line, golf channels putt-line (sponsored by Mutual of Omaha) are only as real as the image constructed in our heads. The brain is constantly assembling and reassembling information provided by the windows to our souls. There are labs all over the place where scientists are diligently working to help us improve our putting game (talk about priorities). They’ve come up with multiple theories about eye dominance, convergence, etc… Rather than go into all of that, we’ll keep it short and say that the top of the putter has three primary functions; to get you to position your eyes directly over the ball, to aim the face along the target line, and to influence the type of stroke you make.

Dr. Alan W. Reichow, Nike’s director for vision science says “Golfers are the most visually sensitive athletes, suppressing all the noncritical information, like a part that reflects more light than the alignment aid, is essential to letting a golfer maintain a comfortable focus.” Nike developed the IC series putters which the color contrast — white against green is it’s central optic element.

But there are other optical illusions to help with putting, longer sightlines, staggered discs (originally developed by Odyssey, now being expanded on by Fussell Putters) are created to help a golfer visualize the putt line. Other tricks have been developed to only be noticed if a golfer is swinging incorrectly, like Profound putters featuring orange stripes that are only noticed if your eyes are out of position.

“Not everyone’s eye is drawn to the same part of the putter,” says Blair Phillip, director of R&D for Yes! Golf. “We’re starting a study that will hopefully show a correlation between a person’s focus and his or her aiming tendencies.”

Dr. Craig L. Farnsworth, an optometrist who has worked with many professionals says there are four types for aimers, horizontal aimers who aim the leading edge, verticle aimers who aim the sightline like an arrow, golfers who aim a combination of the two, and everyone else who have no aim and putt all over the place.

To find out which type of aimer you are, you can get a teaching pro to use a laser putting analysis tool to help you figure it out.

The Mind’s Eye

There’s a list of putters on the site at the bottom of the article, that gives a run down of their optical benefit.


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  6 comments for “There’s more to a putter than it would seem…

  1. at

    Enjoying your articles bud, keep ’em coming!

  2. at

    Dave, Good article with a lot of interesting data. I’ve been looking for a new putter for a few weeks now, and It’s amazing how you hit some putters a lot better than others.

  3. at

    Agreed, I’m very interested in finding out just how much of an impact the optics has on my game. I like that Nike IC 20-20, looks pretty good and it has that green on white contrast.

  4. at

    Dave, that’s funny because one of the putters that I seem to hit really well is one of the new Nike IC Putters. I do not like Mallet putters, but I have it narrowed down to a blade Nike IC putter. The other putter I hit well is one of the Scotty Cameron Studio Selects. But the Nike is half the price, and I seem to hit the ball really well with it. At least in the stores I do.

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