The putting stroke is simply a means to an end, which is consistently getting the putter face square to the target line at impact. When the face is square to the target line at impact, the ball travels on its intended path.
However, the wrench in this equation is alignment. Poor alignment creates erroneous target lines. With poor alignment, the intended path becomes an unintended path.
In other words, you can have great technique in launching an arrow from a bow, but if your aim is out of whack, you’ll never hit the bull’s-eye.
It has been demonstrated that the most common mistake amateurs make in putting is lining up wrong, either right or left of the intended target line. Professionals aren’t perfect, either, but they have caddies to help correct them. Poor alignment can diminish or offset the technological advantages of a particular putter, because no matter how great the putter, the ball won’t go into the hole if your line is incorrect.
For this reason, many putters incorporate visual systems that aspire to aid alignment. It would be impossible to detail all of the available alignment aids in this short space. Some, such as SeeMore’s Riflescope Technology, are interactive in nature, aiding setup as well as alignment. Others consist of simple visual cues, such as the black-gray-black pattern on Never Compromise putters (pictured here). Sometimes the alignment aid is just a thin line crossing the crown of the putter. The variations are numerous.
You should not expect any alignment system to magically cure alignment issues, however. You need to do the bulk of the work yourself in correctly reading the green and lining up your putt. However, putter alignment systems can accentuate this work and help keep you on the straight and narrow.
P.S. Portions of this piece are excerpted from PutterZone.com’s Ultimate Putter Buyer’s Guide ($5), a groundbreaking e-booklet designed to empower you with crucial fitting information before you spend big bucks on a putter. Click here for more information.