Should weekend hackers use AimPoint? The Etiquetteist gives his read

Justin Rose lines up a putt using the AimPoint method.

When it comes to pre-shot routines, many amateurs copy what they see on TV.

Getty Images

Lincoln from Oakland, Calif., writes: 

I was recently paired with two 15-handicappers who used the AimPoint method to read the greens all day. Not only did they look ridiculous and slow down play but they also failed to make a single putt outside of about two feet. In short: bad golfers with bad etiquette. In my opinion, ordinary duffers have no business using AimPoint and should be laughed (or driven) off the course if they do. Thoughts?

Dear Lincoln:

Like automotive stunts in sports-car commercials, PGA Tour broadcasts should probably come with a warning: don’t try this at home.

But they don’t, and so here we are. Like plumb-bobbing before it, AimPoint has seeped, by way of imitation, from the elite ranks into the recreational game.

Should we push back against this trend?

While the Etiquetteist sympathizes with your gripe about slow play — any on-course conduct that bogs down pace unnecessarily is best discouraged — that alone is not an argument for banning AimPoint. The method, after all, as fussy-looking as it is (what with the line-straddling, finger-pointing and eye-closing) doesn’t have to bring a round to a grinding halt, provided the person using it plays ready golf and gets as many of those time-consuming pre-shot rituals out of the way as possible while their partners are putting.

That’s a big if, of course.

An even bigger if is whether those rituals will actually lead to lower scores. Probably not, the Etiquetteist suspects. Most people can’t hang a picture straight without a level, much less feel one percent of slope with their feet. The idea that a method as subtle and involved as AimPoint stands to benefit the average duffer strikes the Etiquetteist as overly optimistic, at best.

Then again, the Etiquetteist is not a golf instructor. And even if most golfers have no more business using AimPoint than they have flying a rocket ship, that’s not a justification for banning the method, either. In the Etiquetteist’s ideal world, ordinary duffers wouldn’t bother with the method. They would get a simple read from the behind the ball, and then step up and yank their five-foot bogey try. But it’s also not the Etiquetteist’s place to dictate what people do for their pre-shot routines.

As long as they are keeping up the pace, anyone and everyone has the right to use AimPoint, no matter how unhelpful it may be. That’s the bad news. The good news is, the rest of us have the right to poke fun at them for three-putting with it.

Josh Sens Editor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.