Mastering How to Plumb Bob a Putt: Tips for Improved Green Reading

Colin McCarthy

how to plumb bob a putt

Ever noticed a golfer holding their putter in front of their eyes on the green? That’s a green-reading technique called plumb bobbing.

This method, used by both amateurs and professionals, aims to help you accurately read the break of the green and improve your putting game.

Learning how to plumb bob a putt might seem tricky at first, but with some practice on the putting green, you can master this skill.

By dedicating time to understand the nuances of plumb bobbing, you can enhance your ability to read greens and make more precise putts. Ready to refine your putting game? Let’s dive into the essentials of plumb bobbing.

Materials Needed for Plumb Bobbing

Plumb bobbing helps golfers read greens more accurately. To master this technique, gather the correct materials.

Choosing the Right Putter

Select a putter with a straight, easily visible shaft. The shaft needs to be level with your chosen vertical for effective plumb bobbing.

Test different putters to find one that fits comfortably in your hand and allows for a clear vertical line. High visibility enhances accuracy.

Choose a spot behind the ball where you can see the entire path to the hole. Hold the putter vertically in front of you, aligning the shaft with the ball and hole. This alignment helps gauge the break.

Preparing to Plumb Bob

Proper preparation sets the foundation for successful plumb bobbing. Begin by identifying your dominant eye and then focus on mastering your stance and position.

Identifying Your Dominant Eye

Identifying the dominant eye is crucial as it will be used to align the putter properly when plumb bobbing. Extend both arms forward and create a small triangular opening between your hands by overlapping your thumbs and fingers.

With both eyes open, focus on a distant object through this opening. Close one eye and then the other. The eye that keeps the object centered within the triangle is your dominant eye. This eye helps ensure accurate alignment when reading the green.

Understanding the Stance and Position

Understanding the correct stance and position enhances the accuracy of plumb bobbing. Stand approximately 10 feet behind the ball to have a clear, straight-line view from the ball to the hole.

For longer putts, increase the distance accordingly. Align your feet parallel to the intended line of the putt. Use your dominant eye while keeping the other eye closed to focus directly on the ball and the hole.

Rotate the putter between the thumb and forefinger to place the shaft vertically aligned with the chosen reference point.

Ensure the putter head is positioned consistently each time to achieve a true vertical line. Proper stance and position are key to effective green reading and making accurate putts.

The Process of Plumb Bobbing a Putt

Plumb bobbing helps improve your putting accuracy by reading the slope of the green.

Aligning the Putter with Your Dominant Eye

Aligning the putter with your dominant eye ensures accurate readings. Stand about 10 feet behind the ball, maintaining a straight line through the ball to the hole.

Close one eye and use your dominant eye to look at the putter shaft. Twist the putter between your thumb and forefinger to find the point where the shaft aligns vertically. This alignment is crucial for the plumb bob technique to work effectively.

Interpreting the Line and Slope

Interpreting the line and slope determines how the ball will break. Hold the putter in front of you, ensuring it remains vertical. Note where the shaft intersects the hole and the ball.

The shaft’s position relative to these points indicates the amount of break. For example, if the shaft aligns slightly to the left of the hole, expect a left-breaking putt. Practice helps refine your ability to judge the line and slope accurately.

Practice Techniques

Mastering plumb bobbing requires consistent practice to refine accuracy and effectiveness on the green.

Drills to Improve Accuracy

Incorporate specific drills to enhance your plumb bobbing ability. Practice on a flat surface to eliminate variables and focus on the technique itself.

Hold the putter between the thumb and forefinger near the end of the grip and align it with the ball and hole. Consistent practice in this controlled environment will establish a reliable baseline.

Next, practice reading subtle slopes by moving to practice greens with varying undulations. The objective is to interpret the slope direction by noting how the putter shaft appears to shift left or right of the hole.

For example:

  • Straight Putt Drill: Align directly behind the ball, ensuring the putter shaft covers both the ball and hole.
  • Subtle Break Drill: Test on sloped surfaces, noting how the shaft appears in relation to the hole and predicting the break.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Avoid common errors to ensure accurate plumb bobbing. Neglecting the dominant eye leads to incorrect alignment.

Identify your dominant eye by looking at a distant object through a circle formed by your fingers. Close one eye at a time; the eye keeping the object centered is dominant.

Incorrectly holding the putter hampers accuracy. Twist the putter between thumb and forefinger to find a vertical alignment. Always replicate this grip for consistency.

Additionally, rushing the process compromises the technique. Take time to stand about 10 feet behind the ball, aligning yourself properly before reading the slope.

Advanced Tips and Alternatives

Mastering plumb bobbing involves refined techniques and situational adjustments. Here are some advanced tips and alternatives to enhance your green-reading skills.

Adjustments for Different Green Conditions

Green conditions significantly affect the effectiveness of plumb bobbing. Differentiate your approach based on the speed and firmness of the greens.

On fast greens, be extra precise in your alignment as the ball will react more sensitively to slopes. For slow greens, slight misalignments might be more forgiving, but always trust the plumb bob’s indication.

Consider the moisture level. In wet conditions, the ball slows down, causing less break than in dry conditions. Adjust your read to account for these variations.

Evaluate the grain of the grass; it influences the direction in which the ball breaks. Plumb bobbing alongside other green-reading techniques offers a comprehensive understanding of these subtleties.

When Not to Use Plumb Bobbing

Plumb bobbing may not always be the best technique. Avoid using it on putts with multiple breaks; it only shows the direction of the ball movement on the closest break to the hole. Rely on other methods like feet sensitivity on such complex putts.

Avoid plumb bobbing on extremely steep slopes. These putts demand a broader judgment than a single alignment method can provide. Combine plumb bobbing with other visual assessments to get a more accurate read.

Diversify your green-reading approaches when necessary and reserve plumb bobbing for simpler putts where its precision shines.

Troubleshooter’s Guide

In this guide, address common issues encountered when plumb bobbing a putt. Optimize your technique by considering the following factors.

Dealing with Variable Weather Conditions

Weather conditions can impact the green significantly. For example, strong winds might affect your stance and grip. Position your body to maintain stability and avoid swaying.

When rain makes the greens slower, increase the force of your putt to counteract the additional friction. On particularly dry days, lessen the force as the ball rolls faster on firm greens.

Adjusting to Different Types of Greens

Greens vary widely, from Bentgrass to Bermuda, each affecting the ball’s roll. On Bentgrass, smoother putts occur with less grain impact.

Align yourself carefully to read subtler breaks. Bermuda greens, however, have a pronounced grain. Observe the grass direction to predict ball movement accurately. For multi-tiered greens, analyze each section separately to understand how different slopes interact.

By considering these variables, improve the accuracy of your plumb bobbing technique and ensure consistent putting performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is plumb bobbing in golf?

Plumb bobbing is a green-reading technique used in golf to assess the slope of the green. By aligning a putter or another object with the ball and hole, golfers can determine how the green might influence the putt’s direction.

Why is practice important for plumb bobbing?

Practice is crucial for mastering plumb bobbing because it helps golfers develop the skills needed to accurately read the green, fine-tune their stance and alignment, and improve overall putting performance.

How do you identify your dominant eye for plumb bobbing?

To identify your dominant eye, extend one arm and align your thumb with a distant object. Close one eye, then the other.

What stance and alignment are recommended for plumb bobbing?

For effective plumb bobbing, stand behind the ball, align your shoulders parallel to the target line, and use your dominant eye to assess the slope.

How can weather conditions affect plumb bobbing?

Weather conditions like wind, rain, and temperature changes can alter the green’s surface and affect ball movement.


Mastering the art of plumb bobbing a putt can significantly elevate your golf game. By honing your technique and paying close attention to factors like weather conditions and green types, you’ll be better prepared to make accurate reads.

Remember that practice is key and the more you refine your skills, the more consistent your putting performance will become.

Embrace the nuances of different greens and stay adaptable to ensure your plumb bobbing technique remains sharp. To get started, you’ll need to use a putter with a straight-edge shaft.

Stand behind the ball and let the putter hang freely from your fingertips, using the shaft to gauge the slope of the green.

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Colin McCarthy

Golf is about mastering your misses and learning from them. I seek answers on the how and why of the golf swing, gaining experience even when answers elude me. With over 11,000 hours of teaching and a hunger for learning, I welcome any questions. My goal is to introduce golf to as many as possible, simplifying the game for all to enjoy. Passionate, eager, and ambitious, I'm here to teach, listen, and learn. LinkedIn

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