There are at least 2 predominant opinions on this issue
Though there may additional methods and opinions on this subject, what is to me the singularly most important aspect is that of the mental side. Regardless of the method one uses, having a positive image of the ball going into the hole, is paramount. Plus, also knowing that you have selected/chosen to incorporate a system of putting and a pre-shot routine, avoids potential stress and conflict in your mind.
If you want to putt well, you simply improve your green reading skills, EVERY golfer should learn the basics of green-reading as it is the foundation of being a great putter. Being lined up in the right spot, also requires you to read the greens correctly, because after all, what use is it being lined up perfectly on an incorrect line?
I would also add one caveat: The Eleven Second Rule. If you become obsessed with the line and unable to make subtle adjustments while you are standing over the ball, not only will be there physiological changes to your body, you will also be turning off some of the athletic instincts that can make a player special.
Does the use of the line eliminate conflict/stress or does it create conflict/stress? Many golfers use the line on their ball because it eliminates conflict/stress for them.
Once they set the line at their intended start direction, they can then focus on the speed that matches that start direction and read. On the other hand, the less “work” they have to do to get the ball into the hole, so will their stress factor be eliminated.
The Linear or Non-Linear putter
Non-linear putters see putts as the line that the ball will take to the hole and focus heavily on the point at which the ball is going to enter the cup to help with their visualization of that line. In reality, we are discussing how your brain interprets visual stimuli while on the putting green.
A golfer such as Rory McIlroy, using a line makes them feel like they’re lining up in the wrong spot, which will affect both their confidence and stroke. Rory, who naturally “sees” the break without over-analyzing, should not use the line on the ball, is a non-linear putter. This golfer who has this built-in ability often will over-play the break when they use the line, making their result less effective.
Other non-linear putters like Tiger Woods, Fred Couples and Phil Mickelson, are less structured in their routines (they respond more to how they are feeling at the moment). When they read a putt, they see it as a curved line finishing in the cup and trust their touch and feel to get the ball rolling on the right line.
Linear putters visualize in straight lines, and in reading a putt will pick out a spot to roll the ball over and seek to start their putt out in a straight line over that spot. Linear putters like Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, and Nick Faldo, tend to be analytical, right-brain types who in general feel comfortable with structure and routine.
Depending upon their putting style and green-reading abilities, linear putters of the ball should use a line on either their putter, or their ball, or both (Odyssey Triple Track putter and balls). If a golfer prefers to pick a specific point to putt to, such as a small target of six to eight inches right and three feet short, for example, then go ahead and use a line. This allows the golfer to aim perfectly and when they are stroking the putt, they can simply attempt to control distance.
The bottom line is every golfer is different and unique and each golfer should determine individually what works best for them. For example, on a left to right breaking putt, if you are a linear putter, you putt in straight lines to the hole. If you are non-linear, you won’t be able putt in straight lines, because your brain subconsciously registers that the putt is a left to right breaking putt, so you naturally aim left of your straight-line-target to compensate.
Ultimately, golfers need to try both methods for themselves. Start by hitting 10 putts with a line, and 10 more putts with no line. Take note of how you feel standing over the putt, whether the line makes you more or less confident. Don’t worry about the result. If you like the way it feels, try taking it to the course.
Now is a good time to work on your putting skills at home, and be ready to play a round of golf with friends in a safe and healthy atmosphere.