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## A Golf Lesson on Plumb-bobbing

Putting is not just about knowing. It also concerns information processing. In other words, the better you are at reading the green, the more likely you are to sink the putt. You don’t need a golf tip to say that. Plumb-bobbing is an old-school technique for generating useful information when putting. Some players swear by it. Others ignore it. The question is whether it helps you sink the putt.

The biggest con is that it tells you how the putt will break, but not how much. But a few years ago, Ph.D. A computer model developed by Fredrick Haney is changing the way golfers think about plumb-bobbing. Haney’s model suggests that there is more to it than meets the eye, and that with a little effort you can use it to determine the break of a putt. Improve your putting and you’ll be able to knock off your golf handicap in no time.

The art of giving up

Before we get into Haney’s findings, let’s take a look at plumb-bobbing and how to do it right. Here are six tips for rolling:

1. Stand behind the ball

2. Extend one arm

3. Hold the handle lightly

4. Align your dominant eye

5. Bend your knees

6. Align the longest point of the shaft

Stand behind the ball so that the hole, the ball and your dominant eye are aligned. Keep your eyes parallel to whatever slope the green you’re standing on has. Bend your knees slightly. Let your body lean with the slope of the green. Holding the top of the handle lightly between your thumb and forefinger, extend your arm slightly. Let the putter hang freely in your grip.

Next, using your dominant eye, position the putter so that the lowest point of the shaft covers the ball. Without moving your head, look up into the hole. If it looks to the right of the shaft, the hole will lean to the left. If it appears on the left, the hole is tilted to the right. If it is in line with the putter, the hole is flat. That is all. In the first 5 minutes of a golf lesson, you will learn everything you need to know about the plumb game.

Determining the drop-off distance

If you shift correctly, you’ll notice that the putter puts the dot either to the left or to the right of the hole on the putting surface. Haney explains that the distance from that spot to the center of the hole is plumb-bob distance (PBD), a measure of slope and distance at the ball. A flat putt with no right or left break has zero PBD. But for all other putts, the offset gives a discrete value. This value indicates how much the ball reacts around the hole.

Using PBD, Haney developed a computer model that deals with rolling. This takes into account the different speeds of the greens, putt distance and amount of slope (both sideways and up or down). It also takes into account the effect of friction on the putt. When you stroke the ball for the first time, it first slides and then rolls. Both are considered in the computer model. The force of friction causes the ball to slow down. Haney’s goal was to find out if you could use a plumb line to determine the actual length of the break.

Computer model instructions

After studying many examples and compiling numerous charts, Haney concludes that for typical green speeds (9 Stimpmeter) and flat putts (no uphill or downhill slope), the break will vary slightly more than in the PDB for gentle slopes, up to approx. 1-1/2 times PBD for steeper slopes.

The above instructions assume that you follow Dave Pelz’s recommendation to miss the putt 17 inches from the cup. If you like to hit your shots into the hole, you’ll want to consider around 2-4x PBD for steeper slopes.

Under similar conditions, moderate uphill putts break as little as half the PBD. Downhill putts can break eight to ten times the PBD. Obviously downhill putts break a lot more than uphill putts. Green speed has almost the same effect as hill and downhill putts. The break is greater on faster greens than on slower ones.

Putting is feeling and information processing. The better the feel and the more accurate your information processing, the better your chance of being the kind of low golf handicap putter I talk about in my golf tips. However, remember that there is no magic formula for determining a putt break. But by experimenting and using PBD as additional information, you can improve your green reading skills.

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