Tip From the Archives

Plumb Bobbing


You are having difficulty reading the break in the green.


In addition to checking the grain of the grass and line from your ball to the hole, you should also try using the plumb bob technique to help read the roll of the green.


Learn how to plumb bob the line by standing behind the ball and look straight down the line to the hole. Hold the putter with your thumb and index finger so that it hangs down as your arm is stretched out in front of you. Block the view of the ball with the lower end of the shaft of the club. Now keep only your dominant eye open. Does the hole now appear to be on the left or the right of the shaft? If the hole looks like it is on the right of the shaft, then you should expect the putt to break the right. If the hole looks like it is on the left of the shaft, then you should expect the break to be from the right to the left. If it appears to be directly behind the shaft, then you should aim straight at the hole because there is not likely to be any directional roll due to the break.

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23 votes

tony Hayward | 10 years ago, at the start of April

How do you determine your dominant eye - I'm naturally righthanded, but play golf lefthanded

Golf Medic | 10 years ago, at the start of April

This is the easiest way to find your dominant eye:
Extend both hands forward of your body and place the hands together making a small triangle (approximately 1/2 to 3/4 inch per side) between your thumbs and the first knuckle.

With both eyes open, look through the triangle and center something such as a doorknob or the bullseye of a target in the triangle.

Close your left eye. If the object remains in view, you are right eye dominant. If your hands appear to move off the object and move to the left, then you are left eye dominant.

To validate the first test, look through the triangle and center the object again with both eyes open.

Close your right eye. If the object remains in view, you are left eye dominant. If your hands appear to move off the object and move to the right, then you are right eye dominant.

(source: http://www.archeryweb.com/archery/eyedom.htm)

Joe Macaluso | 10 years ago, at the start of April

The thing I never understood about this is that wouldn't this show that you are standing on a hill rather than the break at the hole?

Martin | 10 years ago, at the start of April

Standing on a hill will definitely negate the results of this technique mainly due to human error (its hard to maintain balance standing perpendicular to the ground on a slope). However, you can also stand on the opposite side of the hole and sight back to your ball using the hole as a point of reference if the green there is more level. This is in effect a "reverse" plumb bob.
I would consider using this technique only as a general suggestion of the true break of a green, as it is prone to inaccuracies. I believe its true usefulness lies in confirming what your eyes have already told you and building confidence in your putt.

Harold Guy | 10 years ago, at the end of September

I appear to be right eye dominant, because my hands move right when I close my right eye. When I hold my putter over the ball and line up with the hole, then close my right eye, the putter always moves right. The distance it moves right depends on how far I am from the hole. My problem with this is the ball doesn't always break right. How do I determine which way the ball will break? The putter stays straight with the hole, when I close my left eye. WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?

Harold Guy | 10 years ago, at the end of September

Never mind, got it figured out! I was trying to read the break wrong. The correct way is to line up the bottom of the putter over the ball, holding the top of the putter between thumb and 1st finger and if the cup is on the left of the putter shaft the ball will break left, and vice versa, just like the Golf Medic stated earlier. I\'m a little slow to learn. By the way the speed of put also will determine how much break to play.

goldeneel | 8 years ago, mid-February

Plumb Bobbing does not work. Don't believe me? Do some research on the net. It's most effective at wasting the time of every group behind you, but it won't help you read greens.

jackfrost | 8 years ago, mid-August

I agree with goldeneel. If this technique added any value to determining the path/break of a putt the pros on tour would be using it religiously.

Marcel White | 7 years ago, mid-March

Plumb bobbing isn't the only false solution being sold as a good one. Read the articles "Gadgets and procedures that may (or may not) help, in golf putting", part 1 and part 2, available on the net and discover the full story.

Ks Golfer | 7 years ago, mid-April

Plumb bobbing works on putts with one break and particularly on short putts. If there is more than one break you can move to the other side of the hole and you will see what the putt will do when it gets to the whole. It is basic physics.

paul domson | 7 years ago, mid-June

Naysayers are wrong. The key to plumb bobbing is: LOCK YOUR KNEES. That locks your hips to be parallel to the slope. If you don't lock your knees, the reflex is to make you hips parallel to the horizon,all putts will appear straight. in addition, do not squat down and plumb, your hips once again become parallel to the horizon.

Rick Hendershot | 7 years ago, at the end of September

I disagree with the naysayers and also with this analysis of the plumb bobbing technique in general. The value of plumb bobbing is that it helps you find a reference for "true vertical" (assuming your putter hangs straight). Getting down close to the ground and then plumb bobbing the horizon of the ground close to the hole will show the slope at that point. This can be used (quite successfully I have found) as an indicator of the way the ball is going to break. Whether it can be used in the way described by Golf Medic (and others) or not seems doubtful to me. I employ pb all the time, but never in that way, so cannot really comment on its effectiveness. Golfers and self-appointed experts knock pb because they think it looks stupid or is not scientific or there are too many "variables". Instead they prefer to guess at the break or use their mysterioius "subconscious" techniques. Now that's really scientific, isn't it.

Ben de Vet | 6 years ago, mid-December

Locking the knees seems to be the answer, because it tells you whether you stand on a flat surface or not. If your left foot is lower and you hide the ball behind the lower end of the putter, the hole will appear at the left side of the shaft. The ball will break to the left, but only if the surface of the green between you and the putt is tilted similarly as to where you stand. The method of plumb bobbing is not telling you anything about the green between you and the putt. Let me put it this way: imagine a fully flat putting green, and try to visualize the line between your ball and the putt. This line will be fully hidden by the putter you hold out in front of you. Now let the surface of the green tilt with this line as pivot. The hole will of course not move to the right or to the left, but the ball certainly will if you hit it to start along this line!!!! So, plumb bobbing is not much of a help and if you want to establish if the green on the spot where you stand is flat or not you can better hold the putter with two fingers to the tiop of your nose and look whether the lower end is prcisely in the middle between tour two feet.

night clara | 5 years ago, at the end of March

this is very important to me when l read this comments it makes me to undenrtant the use of the plumb bob, what is pluumb rule?

Johnny Harris | 5 years ago, at the start of June

Plumb Bobbing is a fallacy people! Next time you plumb bob a green and the pin appears left of your Putter shaft, move your head to the right slightly until the ball, the putter shaft and the hole are lined up then ask yourself where did the break go!!! And vice versa for a hole that falls right of the putter shaft! The only thing you can gain from plumb bobbing, is that you may be able to determine which side of the putter shaft is high or low giving you a break of left to right or right to left!!! The reason the hole appears on the left or right of the putter shaft is because your eyes aren't lined up to start with!

Aceman | 5 years ago, at the end of June

I learned this technique resently. On thing it has done is slowed me down a bit and I started to think about my putts. It's improved my putting.

jim | 4 years ago, mid-April

If you know how to do it right.....its the best way ever to read a break...If you can't do it right don't blame plumb bobbing for your lack of skill..

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