Golf IQ

4 simple-and-smart ways tour pros use the line on their golf ball—should you?

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I've always had a bad habit in my putting stroke: I take the putter head outside on the way back and too much to the left on the way through.

In the full swing, it's a move we call "over the top"—a common cause of many golfers' slices. But I do my putting over-the-top move with a closed clubface, which means I tend to pull lots of putts left.

Well, I used to. It's still my miss, but it's not as common anymore. That's because almost two years ago, I discovered the true cause: I was accidentally aiming a lot more to the right than I realized. Subconsciously pulling the putt left was my only chance of getting the ball back on line, and making my putt.

"You can't aim the f***ing thing," Fredrik Lindblom, the co-founder of Short Game Gains, said when aiding me in my discovery.

  • If the line rolls end-over-end, I immediately know I put a good stroke on the ball. If I made (or missed) the putt, it wasn't because of stroke, it was because of green-reading, or speed. It gives me a sense of certainty that I like.
  • I find the process of trying to roll the ball end-over-end improves my ability to return the putter face to impact, and improves my green-reading skills.

I’d roughly estimate that the tour is about 50-50 on players who use the line vs. those who don’t.

Tiger Woods used it religiously; Jack Nicklaus didn’t.

Scottie Scheffler just stopped using the line (and it worked!).

Wyndham Clark started using the line recently (and it also worked!)

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Some golfers even go back-and-forth during a round, depending on the putt.

“If it’s a straight putt, I’ll use it,” says PGA Tour player Sami Valimaki. “If it’s a putt with a lot of break that’s more about speed, I won’t.”

The point is there's no right or wrong, it’s all about what helps you aim better and feel more comfortable and confident.

If you’re a line-curious golfer, here’s a few methods to tinker around with.

One Line

The most obvious and common method. The line on the ball, usually marked over with a sharpie. Point it where you want to aim.

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Dots and Lines

Xander Schauffele is a one-line man, but also adds a tiny dot at the base of his line to give himself a place to focus during his stroke.

Lots of Lines

Using multiple lines can often help golfers aim better than just one. Some golfers, draw them on. Others use the built-in tools many manufacturers have embraced, like Odyssey’s triple-track technology, or TaylorMade’s True Path alignment system.

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Perpendicular Lines

You’ll notice some of the lines on Adam Hadwin’s golf ball above run perpendicular to the main line. The main, straight line is where you want to aim the putter face; the perpendicular lines are what you want your putterface to run parallel to.

Equator Lines

Cam Smith does something interesting where he places the line on his ball like an equator—a visual cue that helps him stroke up on the ball.

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Again, I’m not saying you should switch. I’m just saying using the line has helped me. It makes too much sense for me to ever go back.