Plumb Bobbing

 groovyduvey ·  
groovyduveygroovyduvey Members  32WRX Points: 24Posts: 32 Bunkers
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Yes, I too once watched people plumb bob and thought to myself.... what in the **** is this ******** doing?

About a month ago I decided to try to figure it out, frustrated that my green reading has been pretty poor. I worked on the putting green for a few weeks then I took it to the course and gave it my 100% faith. I've done this for 4 18-hole rounds now. My putts per hole has dropped from 1.95 pre-plumb bobbing... to 1.55 post plum bobbing. Incredible. That's like 4 shots per round and my scores have been showing it. No changes at all except for my pre-putt routine now incorporating plumb bobbing, and me giving it my faith even if my eyes disagree.

I'd prefer this to not be a thread about plumb bobbers vs non plumb bobbers. I'm more keen to hear from those who do plumb bob. How do you do? How do you use it?

While I'm not sure I've figured out all the specifics yet, I have found a few things that seem to be important:

1) the ground I'm standing on needs to be a similar slope to the one I'm trying to read.

2) My dominate eye needs to be exactly in line with the ball and the hole. Like, EXACTLY.

3) I need to hold my putter in the exact orientation that allows it to hang perfectly vertical (i use a toe-hanging putter). THIS IS IMPORTANT

4) It seems to work best on fairly flat and simple puts - ie. no multi breaks and wildly variable breaks.

5) whether the putt is uphill or downhill seems to impact the read, but I haven't figured out exactly how yet.

6) i need to be standing, not squatting, and its best to have my weight evenly distributed across both feet.

I've only been doing this for a little while now, but I've pretty much found that I'm able to at least get the break direction correct in 95% of putts, and if the above conditions are met I can also generally get a pretty good idea of how much break. Literally, if its a fairly simple green and putt, I can get a reliable aim-point in less than 2 seconds.

Anyone have any plumb-bobbing wisdom and experience to share?



  • Sean2Sean2 Members  32670WRX Points: 2,923Posts: 32,670 Titanium Tees
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    I have been doing it since I picked up a club almost 15 years ago. I know some people don't like it, but it works for me.


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    In golf, the human mind has much higher capabilities to screw things up than the physics has to make things better. Unknown


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  • charlicharli Members  60WRX Points: 28Posts: 60 Bunkers
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    Im honestly not even sure how it works. Or how it helps you see a break that you wouldn’t normally

  • groovyduveygroovyduvey Members  32WRX Points: 24Posts: 32 Bunkers
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    best I can gather everyone has a slightly different take on it. Some people just use the vertical line as a reference to help them see the slopes. Some people look at the angle of the cup relative to true vertical. Some people use it to estimate the slope of the ground they are standing on relative to the straight line between the ball and the cup. This last one is kinda what I’ve been doing. I’ve found success doing something very similar to what’s shown in this video here:

  • charlicharli Members  60WRX Points: 28Posts: 60 Bunkers
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    Wow good ol mr short game. I’m trying it now.

  • cxxcxx Members  3251WRX Points: 231Posts: 3,251 Titanium Tees
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    If done correctly you get the same info that you would from aim point express, the angle of the slope under your feet in the direction of the hole.

  • RP40RP40 Members  141WRX Points: 123Posts: 141 Fairways
    Joined:  edited Jan 16, 2020 4:34am #7

    I've plumb bobbed since I was a kid, back when it was done routinely by tour pros (before the advent of greens reading books).

    Here's what you do: Stand directly behind the ball or marker on the green, hold your putter in your right hand (for rightie golfers) by the finger tips at the top of the grip, allow the putter to hang directly vertical from your fingertips, stand so that you're directly behind the ball in a straight line to the cup and with both eyes open align the shaft of your putter so it lines up with your ball and the hole, then close your left eye (assuming your right eye is dominant, the opposite if you're left-eye dominant as I am), with your left eye closed the alignment is going to change and the bottom of the shaft of your club will be either to the left or right of your ball. That distance is your approximate break, and you should allow that distance when lining up your putt. ... You need to remember though, that plumb bobbing will not take into account double-breaking putts, or any change in elevation, or natural breaks toward water, or the grain of the grass, so you'll need to take those into consideration as well when lining up your putt.

    Post edited by RP40 on
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  • Steele47Steele47 Members  1831WRX Points: 987Posts: 1,831 Platinum Tees
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    I've plumbed since the 70's but back then I was putting with an old school bullseye which I could trust to hang straight down. If I'm using an Anser style (plumbers neck) type putter or especially a mallet I, of course, can't trust it completely as the putter shaft is now hanging at a slight angle.

    With all that said, even if I am using a mallet putter I will still plumb bob because quite often I will be asked why I do it and if it actually works. I usually reply, "You wouldn't understand". as a gag of course.

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  • bladehunterbladehunter south carolinaMembers  30917WRX Points: 7,190Handicap: NONEPosts: 30,917 Titanium Tees
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    Good post. I started to say same. Most modern putters won’t hang straight . And some not at any angle you twist the grip. I laugh when I see a regular playing partner hanging his odyssey #7 up to look. It’s crooked as a dogs hind leg. But. I guess if he’s calibrated to that crookedness then the idea still works. And yes. I do sometimes plumb bob. But. I’m using a heel shafted blade that’s toe down. So it will hang straight on its own. Plumb being the operative word.

  • LondonerLondoner Members  1556WRX Points: 349Handicap: 10Posts: 1,556 Platinum Tees
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    I use it. Always have done.

    It amuses me that some people say it is pointless but rely on aimpoint.

    Its most useful on my course. We have no 2 tier type greens. They are very subtle, all look flat. None of them are.

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  • cxxcxx Members  3251WRX Points: 231Posts: 3,251 Titanium Tees
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    If you balance the putter on you finger it will find the angle that hangs true. Hold the putter so the direction that is facing the sky is pointing at you when plumbing.

  • RSinSGRSinSG St George, UT (Formerly Palm Springs, CA)ClubWRX  3394WRX Points: 452Handicap: 8.5Posts: 3,394 ClubWRX
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    That’s the best explanation I’ve read on the topic. It’s always been of zero worth to me but now I’m going to print out your post and try it again. In the past people would do it and say they could see the break and I saw nothing - like those 3-D hidden pictures.

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  • rufus manglerrufus mangler Members  1765WRX Points: 184Posts: 1,765 Platinum Tees
    Joined:  edited Jan 16, 2020 7:50pm #15

    For you plumbobbers out there, this has worked for me, especially on 3-5' putts.

    Plumb bob the line. Once you have it, and while still holding the putter up, pick something out 2-3' in front of you (speck of sand, discoloration, etc) and line up to it.

    Now you can just concentrate on the speed and hit the putt.

    Post edited by rufus mangler on

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  • RP40RP40 Members  141WRX Points: 123Posts: 141 Fairways
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    🤣 😂 🤣

    Sure they will, if you hold them so the toe of the club is pointed at you.

  • bladehunterbladehunter south carolinaMembers  30917WRX Points: 7,190Handicap: NONEPosts: 30,917 Titanium Tees
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    Yes. But true “ plumb “ isn’t manipulated. That was my point.

    But sure it can work we enough a few degrees either way.

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  • RP40RP40 Members  141WRX Points: 123Posts: 141 Fairways
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    Well, if your arguing a few degrees either way, only a center-shafted putter will hang straight.

    Otherwise, plumb-bombing isn't intended to exact, any more than the guys who stand behind their ball and announce, "my left foot is 1/8" lower than might right, so this putt breaks right to left."

  • groovyduveygroovyduvey Members  32WRX Points: 24Posts: 32 Bunkers
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    I've found that rotating my putter until it looks 'plumb' from my perspective (verified by using a door frame) is effective enough for this technique.

    Its def not an exact science that works in all instances. But if you spend the time to get a feel for it helps get a better read in a shorter amount of time.

  • cxxcxx Members  3251WRX Points: 231Posts: 3,251 Titanium Tees
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    Every putter will hang straight at the right angle. Find it by using a door jam (hopefully vertical or you have bigger problems) or balance the putter on your finger. At this angle there is equal weight on both sides. It's really easy.

  • msd71msd71 Members  753WRX Points: 156Handicap: 1Posts: 753 Golden Tee
    Joined:  edited Jan 17, 2020 3:26pm #21

    Hold a putter up for plumb bobbing. Say it leans to the left. Turn the shaft 180*, and now it leans to the right.

    Therfore there is some rotation of the shaft that will make it hang perfectly vertical from your perspective, because that leaning didn't just flip suddenly from left to right, it swept gradually. Find the proper rotation, put a little mark on the grip, and you are good to go. No matter how oddly balanced your putter is.

  • bluedotbluedot Members  3841WRX Points: 506Handicap: 7.5Posts: 3,841 Titanium Tees
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    The "physics" of plumb bobbing, IMO, are limited to the general direction of the break; it isn't reliable for the amount of break because, as mentioned above, it doesn't account for double breakers or slope. But I don't think that's really important IF the guy putting is doing a good job of factoring those things in besides just plumb bobbing.

    I think the biggest advantage of either Aim Point or plumb bobbing isn't really talked about much; it's that it gets you to commit to a line and then trust it, which allows you to focus on speed. Vastly more three putts come from getting the speed wrong than getting the wrong line, and the essence of good putting is three putt avoidance. The last thoughts before the putt is hit should be about speed, not line, and plumb bobbing can help a lot with that.

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  • cxxcxx Members  3251WRX Points: 231Posts: 3,251 Titanium Tees
    Joined:  edited Jan 27, 2020 6:33pm #23

    Both plumb bobbing and aimpoint express tell you about the degree of slope under your feet. Which is great on a green surface that is a tilted plane, less so on undulating surfaces.

  • agolfmanagolfman Members  148WRX Points: 78Posts: 148 Fairways
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    Have tried it with no discernible success in the past.

    However, I have found it useful after I make a read. I “plumb” my alignment line on my ball to the intended target off in the distances...I do this to validate that the alignment line is truly aimed at my target. I simply overlay the putter shaft into the alignment line from great after you get the hang of it.

    Works with single line and triple track, etc. This has really made a difference in getting a good start line and can also get me over losing confidence in my aiming once I get into my stance.

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  • dpb5031dpb5031 Jupiter, FLMembers  5872WRX Points: 1,440Posts: 5,872 Titanium Tees
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    I use it when breaks are subtle and it's difficult to determine which way the putt will break. I don't expect anything exact from it, just a general sense of which way the putt will go. It's another useful tool in the toolbax in terms of reading greens, but certainly no panacea.

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  • Cslange80Cslange80 Members  81WRX Points: 25Handicap: 16Posts: 81 Fairways
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    I started Plumb Bobbing last year and feel it helps. Especially on greens where my eyes are playing tricks on me.

  • leftyshindigleftyshindig ClubWRX  87WRX Points: 70Handicap: 5.2Posts: 87 ClubWRX
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    Great point. I use aim point and it assists me in “putting to the picture” or visualizing the line and speed of the putt. Confidence is everything in putting, and using a plumb bob or aimpoint helps the player get a firm idea on how the ball in going to go in the hole.

    keep at it. It takes practice and concentration like everything in golf. Your playing partner may give you crap at first, but they shut up once the putts start going down.

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  • BIG STUBIG STU Members  13001WRX Points: 3,937Handicap: 5.0Posts: 13,001 Titanium Tees
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    Your first paragraph is the reason most of us old timers do it exactly like you stated for a for a reference point. I was taught it at an early age and have been doing it 50 years now


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  • BogeyBoogyBogeyBoogy Members  25WRX Points: 52Posts: 25 Bunkers
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    I have been PB'ing for quite a while and find that it works best for me. I have tried other ways to read the green but just keep going back to PB.

  • twidenertwidener TWidener Members  157WRX Points: 112Posts: 157 Fairways
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    Learned to plumb bob when I was around 13. Still use it 57 years later. I was comfortable with the technique so I stuck with it. The course I played then was very hilly and the greens were not flat. Lots of undulations and I learned from an older player. It does work best with an 8802 style putter.

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  • golf9596golf9596 Members  2145WRX Points: 164Handicap: 4.5Posts: 2,145 Platinum Tees
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    I’ve been bobbing since I started playing back in the 70s, too. I just learned to rotate what ever putter I am using at the time and it plums true . It is not an exact science, but it’s part of my routine and it helps me with a start line. This is not much different than aim point.

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