How to Plumb Bob With a Putter: Improve Your Golf Short Game

how to plumb bob aim a putt

Erik Schjolberg

By Coach Erik Schjolberg – Mar 1, 2024

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Key Takeaways – Plumb Bobbing Golf Tips

  • Not all putters will hang perfectly vertical; you must first determine exactly how your putter hangs and which way you can use it to plumb bob correctly
  • Plumb bobbing a putt is used quite often when you are undecided about which way a putt is going to break; the plumb line makes it much easier to see
  • The method of plumb bobbing a putt is used on the PGA Tour, and many golfers that struggle to read break well can benefit from it
  • If you have a double-breaking putt, stay away from the plumb bob method, as it doesn’t give you all the information you need

I’ve seen quite a few guys holding their putter shaft up in front of their faces on the putting green. However, I’m not sure they all know how to plumb bob a putt properly.

If you want to give plumb bob putting a try, I’ll show you how to plumb bob with a putter, what the plumb bob method entails, and whether or not this will work for you on the golf course.


What Is A Plumb Bob?

Interestingly, a plumb bob is not a golf tool; it’s an old construction device. The plumb bob started out as a weight on a string. As the string was held up, gravity would pull the weight down with equal parts force; the line would be perfectly straight.

behind the hole view of guy plumb bobbing a putt

When we use plumb bobbing on the green, the putter acts as a plumb bob, but you must make sure you have it held in the proper position.


How To Plumb Bob Putts

To learn the plumb bobbing process, you must head to a putting green. This method takes some focus and a bit of planning, and you won’t be able to get it down while on the golf course.

Step 1: Determine Where Vertical Is With Your Putter

Take a look at your golf putter; you will notice that the putter head and shaft connection are unique from the putter that your friend may have. Putter shafts can be more towards the heel or the center, and head weights in putters vary considerably.

When you hold your putter up in front of you (without knowing where the balance point is), it will not be perfectly straight.

The first part of this plumb bob process involves finding a straight line that you can trust. The side of a building or a wall can work quite well. Hold your putter out in front of you as you would when creating the plumb line, and make sure that the line is straight.

another view of plumb bob aiming

If it is not, don’t worry.

Turn the putter grip in your hand until the putter head becomes perfectly straight. Sometimes this will be with the toe of the putter pointing at the target; other times it will be right or left of the target. It all depends on the putter weight and the shaft connection.

When you put the putter shaft in a position where it’s a straight line, make a mental note you will need this when you head back to the practice green.

Step 2: How To Stand

Now you must stand with the golf ball between you and the hole. Hold your putter in the position that you determined it creates a straight line. While holding the putter up in front of your eyes, line the putter shaft up directly with the center of the golf ball.

line up cup ball and zipper for plumb bob putts

When the putter is straight (and you are standing straight), you can then read the line on the putt.

Step 3: How To Read The Putt

Now that you have your plumb bob in front of you take a look to see which side of the hold the putter shaft is resting on. Wherever the shaft is, you will need to aim.

man balancing his putter carefully for plumb bob aim

Therefore if you see the vertical line of the putter shaft to be a foot left of the hole, the putt will break left to right. If you are holding the putter correctly and the line goes directly through the center of the hole, it’s a straight putt. 

Step 4: Where To Aim

Using the plumb bob golf technique lets you see exactly where the putt will break and from which direction. Aim exactly where your putter shaft is, and the ball will break in towards the hole.

One key golf tip to remember here is that unless your putter is entirely straight, you will not be reading the break correctly. So many golfers think they can just walk out there, hold a putter in front of their face and say they are plumb bobbing.

This is not how it works.


What If A Putt Has More Than One Break?

A golf putt can have more than one break.

In this case, the plumb bob putting method is not going to work out all that well. In fact, you really can’t use it. When you stand back at the hole, the plumb bob method shows you only the final break at the hole. 

Essentially, you don’t get the whole story. Its always a good idea to learn different multiple ways of how to read a putt.


Who Should Use Plumb Bob Putting?

I find the plumb bob putting method to be a little difficult for a new player. In fact, I think that beginners should mostly work on getting feel and speed control down.

However, for average players that three putt a lot, the plumb bobbing method can teach how to read break and what it takes to make the putt. I’ve always had trouble reading too much break on those lag putts or 6 to 10-footers.

I often play the ball outside the hole when I should not. Of course, this leads to some missed putts. When I started playing around with the plumb bob method, I think it gave me the extra confidence I needed to sink those putts that really make or break your score.

So if you have issues with confidence in your putting, or you read too much or too little break, try this method.


Does Plumb Bob Putting Work?

Plumb bobbing a putt works. However, most golfers do it without first checking to ensure their putter shaft is vertical.

I really can’t stress this enough; you cannot just hold your putter up and assume it’s straight. Once you determine where straight is, the putter can be a great tool or resource to help you make better putts. In addition, once you find a line, make sure that you trust it.

Don’t go through this green reading process and then ignore what you were supposed to do; trust the line.


FAQ – Plumb Bob Golf Roundup

Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about the plumb bob technique and whether or not it could work for your golf game.

How to plumb bob with a putter?

The green-reading method called plumb bobbing allows you to use your putter as a vertical reference line to determine how much break there is on a putt you are taking. This works for both longer putts and short putts, but not for multiple breaks.

Is a plumbob putting accurate?

A plumb bob when putting is accurate, but you must be sure to use your dominant eye and that you are not looking at a putt that breaks more than one time. Similar to the Aimpoint Green Reading process, playing golf with the plumb bob method will require a few practice sessions before you are comfortable.

Why do people hold their putters up?

If you see a golfer holding a putter up in front of them, they are involved in a green reading process called plumb bobbing. This method aims to tell golfers which way a putt breaks and how you should aim your putt to ensure that it goes in the hole.

How do you read putts with a putter?

To read putts with a putter, hold the putter out in front of you, make sure it is straight, and line the putter up with the center of the golf ball. If the putter shaft is on the left of the hole, you must aim left and prepare for a right break; the opposite remains true if the putter shaft is on the right side of the club.

What is the most accurate green reading method?

Many golfers find plumb bobbing putts to be incredibly accurate; others prefer something like the Aimpoint green reading system. Putting is all about consistency; if you can become consistent and confident with a certain method, that is the one to stick with.


Final Thoughts – Learn How to Plumb Bob When Putting

When I first started learning how plumb bobbing works, I wasn’t sure I would ever trust the vertical line my putter made. After a few weeks of working with it, I now have a ton of confidence in this range, and I no longer question whether or not I’m reading the break correctly.

I highly recommend plumb bobbing for an average golfer or better. Spend some time developing your skills on the putting green, and then take it to the course.

About the Author

Erik Schjolberg

By Coach Erik Schjolberg – Last Updated Mar 1, 2024

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Coach Erik actively coaches several PGA Tour Professionals. He’s the head golf instructor and writer here at Swing Yard, was voted the “#1 Golf Coach in Scottsdale, Arizona”, and has been coaching for over 20+ years. Erik also owns and operates his own online golf school, EJS Golf Academy. His other credentials include: Active PGA Coaches Membership, Titleist TPI Level 1 and 2, Trackman Certified Level 1, Dr. Kwon’s Biomechanics Level I and II, Scott Cowx Certified Level I Advanced, BodiTrack and V1 Sports Pressure Mat Certified, Titleist Club Fitting and Ball Fitting Certified, PGA Hope, and Sportsbox AI. Check out Erik’s full bio and certifications for more info.


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