Stan Badz / Getty Images Contributor
Tiger Woods studies his putt at the 12th green during the second round of the AT&T National at Aronimink Golf Club on July 2, 2010, in Newtown Square, Pa.
Leave it to a golfing physicist armed with geometry to give all us duffers some simple advice that should make more of our putts fall.
The advice is this: instead of just lining up the putt at hand, take a little extra time and determine the target line for several equidistant putts a few steps to the left and right of the ball.
"What you'll notice is that those target lines all sort of converge at the same place," Robert Grober, a physicist at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., told me today. "It is as simple as that."
To sink the putt, aim for this area.
"The advantage of this methodology is that it requires no quantitative calculation, and thus no exact knowledge of the speed and slope of the green and the length of the putt," he writes in a paper posted on the Physics arXiv website.
All that calculation was done by Grober, a world expert on the science of golf, and detailed for those who want to get into the nitty gritty in the paper, "The Geometry of Putting on a Planar Surface."
He found that if all the equidistant putts in a circle around the ball are taken into consideration, the target maps out to a little diamond-shaped area on the fall line. And this diamond gets bigger the longer the putt and the steeper the slope.
"But all that's really important to know is that all the putts nearby are related to each other," he told me. "A few steps to the left, a few steps to the right, they all have a target point which you can align yourself."
While the advice is simple, Grober noted that even professional golfers don't seem to do it. Instead, they tend to only line up the putt at hand.
So, the world's best golfers might want to consider this advice as they get ready to tee off Thursday at the US Open.
Likewise, President Barack Obama could use the pointer when he takes on low handicapper House Speaker John Boehner in a widely anticipated round on Saturday.
More stories on the science of golf:
- Spacewalker takes orbital golf shot
- Nanotech used to make … a better golf ball
- Study: Golf courses make good homes for birds
- Why a red shirt helped Tiger Woods
John Roach is a contributing writer for msnbc.com. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by hitting the "like" button on the Cosmic Log Facebook page or following msnbc.com's science editor, Alan Boyle, on Twitter (@b0yle).