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Grouchy Golf Blog

Wednesday, June 01, 2005 at 11:04 AM

Line Up Your Golf Ball!

You may have noticed that some golfers draw a straight line on their golf balls to help them line up the ball to putt. It's even a common practice on the professional golf tours. If you saw Tiger Woods' miraculous chip shot at the 16th hole of the 2005 Masters on TV, you got a good close-up of his lined Nike One Platinum ball as it hung momentarily on the lip of the cup.

The most common device to draw such a line on a golf ball is a product called the "Line-M-up." It's essentially a piece of plastic that you snap on a golf ball. It has a slot where you can draw a straight line on the golf ball with a permanent marker such as a Sharpie pen.

You can buy the Line-M-up at most golf stores. At Golfsmith, it costs $8.99. Yes, $8.99!

While that may not sound like much to some, it's quite a lot for something that looks like it cost about 5 cents to manufacture. Sure, it comes with a Sharpie, but what does that cost, another 20 cents? Assuming a standard 100% retail markup, I estimate that the Line-M-up wholesales for about $4.50. To be generous, I'll assume that the Line-M-up costs a total of $.50 to manufacture and package. That means for each Line-M-up sold, the manufacturer makes $4.00 in profit, or a 800% profit margin!

I'm not against anyone making a buck, but to me this is grossly excessive. As a businessperson, I refuse to buy this thing based on business principle alone. But that doesn't mean I don't draw a line on my ball. For the price of a bottle of Gatorade, I have a ball line-drawing device.

When I wrote, "a bottle of Gatorade" I literally meant a bottle of Gatorade. I just use the plastic safety ring that detaches from the cap of a 20 oz. bottle of Gatorade as a straight-edge for golf balls. Amazingly, it fits on a golf ball almost perfectly! Not only do you have something to line your golf balls, but you also have a tasty beverage to wash down that crusty old hot dog that you bought at the turn. To ensure a straight and balanced line, use the to pre-draw the line. Just take a look at these pics to see how easy it is to "Line-M-up" ghetto style:

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

True true, I understand your feelings about this, but what it comes down to is how much is the average person willing to pay for a device like this? The people marketing this device have already figured out the safe thresh-hold for maximum sales vs profit.

For the average guy in the proshop, they'd probably be more than happy to drop $10 on something like this. Everything is relative, a pack of smokes is $4 or $5 I guess ? A burger combo at mcdonalds/burger king, $5 ... Sometimes those simple pieces of plastic look like a real bargain, even at $9 when compared to other expenses in life.

Have you ever seen the ball marker advertised on TGC ? It spins the ball pretty fast, there's a tiny hole to place the marker, that's where the center of gravity should be (based on the idea that not all balls are manufactured perfect and they're quite often lop-sided to a small degree or a larger one if its a bad ball.)

Can't remember how much that one costs though.

Would I pay $9 for one of these plastic gizmos... Maybe, depends on how I felt at that moment.

Soros.  

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Blogger CB said...

First and foremost I want to commend you on publishing such a worthwhile source of golf information.

I am 100% serious. I get so tired of people debating cavity back vs. blade irons and arguing over whether fading or drawing a 300 yard drive is ideal. Or my favorite question; should they carry four wedges? These are all the same people who play golf at golf courses, right? The same people I see shank and chili-dip their drives, muff their chips, and four put from 8 feet? On occasion I am one of those people, we all are.

This blog gives me something I can use, a Gatorade ring… genius. Frankly, I don’t know what I would do with a 300 yard drive anyway, probably hook it into the trees is my guess.

Thank you for the work you do here. Thank you, thank you, thank you…  

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Blogger Barry said...

I knew that Gatorade ring was good for something. Very clever!  

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Blogger tewput said...

Your're killing me man!!! I saw this "Line-M-Up" online ages ago. Before it turned up in all the pro shops. Yes you guess it, not only did I pay 9 bucks, you can throw s&h on there too!! I have to stop surfing all these golf sites in the middle of the night...What an idiot!  

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Blogger dave said...

Enjoyed the article and the idea behind it and the comments you get are a treat to read also. I will now make one of the kids drink a big Gatorade. Thanks again!  

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Blogger woundedduck said...

I am the inventor of the Line-M-Up. I know you're all angry about the high price, but you have to understand--R&D costs went out of control. Afterall, a team of Cal Tech engineers doesn't come cheap, but that's the kind of commitment I had to my vision. My vision of a world with straighter putts and lower scores came about because my father died on the golf course after missing a three footer to win a $5 nassau. Heart attack dropped him like a sack of potatoes. I vowed that day to help stop the insanity. I spared nothing in my pursuit. After the third mortgage on my house, my wife left with the kids, but still I chased the Line-M-Up dream. Finally, after 12 years of work, losing my house, family and ending up living in my van, the Line-M-Up was finished. I calculate I'll have to sell 72 million units to break even, but, heck, I never got in this for the money. It was about a dream. So remember my story the next time you complain about the high price of golf accessories--afterall, what's the price for a man's dream?  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

CB and Dave,

Thanks for the kind comments. I really appreciate them. I forgot, did I pay you guys to write that stuff? I'll check my PayPal account.

woundedduck,

You have told a truly heartfelt story. Unfortunately, I still think your product is a major rip-off. At least your dream was realized.  

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Blogger CB said...

Last I heard you said the check was in the mail...  

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Blogger OT said...

Solution: Putt with range balls :-D  

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Blogger Eric said...

This is an amazing blog. Your post a few weeks ago prompted me to finally change my weak grip to a stronger one. As a result, my wicked driver slice has turned into a slight draw, and my yardages have increased by 10, and in some cases 20, yards for most clubs.

Now I have lined up all of my golf balls with a gatorade ring from a bottle I already owned rather than shelling out the dough for that Line M Up thing.

I should be paying for this stuff... ;-)  

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Blogger Shannon said...

And silly me was using those rings to entertain my cats with!

That really is a great idea though.

I'm not a golfer, but it is one thing that I want to learn to do at some point in my life.

Got any tips on how to get started? Keep in mind....like you I gotta do it ghetto style (I love that phrase) cuz I'm still in school and don't have a lot of money to sink into a new hobby.

btw......thanks for stopping by!

Have a great one!  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Eric,

Thanks for the comments. It's nice to hear that Grouchy Golf has helped someone in cyberspace.

I plan to write an article in the future about what I think is the key to proper ball-striking. I think that you'll really like it...  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Shannon,

If you want to get started playing golf, I suggest that you ask a friend who plays to take you to the golf range to hit balls.

If you don't know anyone who plays, most golf courses have low-priced to free introductory golf lessons.

Either way, I recommend that you learn the game from the golf hole out. That is, start with putting, then chipping, yada yada yada. Good luck. It's truly a sport of a lifetime that you can play with people of all skill and ages.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This idea is GREAT. I wanted to buy this, but put off by the price. In fact my supermarket sells generic gatorade for 50-cents less.

Let me save you all more money: The Check-n-Go is USELESS!
It works as advertised, until you hit the ball - once. If not your first drive, the first time you scuff a ball on hard ground, hit thin, that C of G is different. Now that we've all saved about $40, lets go play...!  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just got back from trying the Gatorade thing. Works fine. W

hen I passed the word one guy said "Try a tube from roll of toilet paper". It works even better! Wrap duct tape around if you want to make it last.
Nice thing is if you lose it, there is always one more on the way! Love this Blog.  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Anonymous, thanks for the comments about the TP tube method. The problem that I've found with that method is that the tube starts to absorb the ink and smears the ball. Also, it's harder to center on the ball because you can only see half of it when the tube is on the ball. That's why I prefer the Gatorade Ring method.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a former Product Manager for a major golf brand I understand your frustratioin with the pricing of this item. However, it does follow one of the oldest rules of business: Price has nothing to do with cost; you can charge whatever the market will bear.

If you really want to be frustrated, look at the profit margin of some of the high dollar clubs on the market today. $12 head + $8 shaft + $1.50 grip + $2 assembly = $399 ????  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go to the hardware store with your golf ball and buy a 1-1/4 inch schedule 40 PVC end cap. They cost about 75 cents. Sandwich the ball between two caps to see how well they fit. No modification is needed if you have a fine point sharpie pen. I use a wider pen so I sanded off about 1/64 of an inch by putting a sheet of sand paper (320 grit then 600 grit) on a flat surface. The cap even has a radius on the inside so no smearing of the ink! Enjoy. Steve D.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great idea..the Gatorade ring. Trouble is, the line wont be located along the dynamic center of mass that the Check-Go provides.  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Anonymous,

Sorry, but I don't quite follow your assertion that "the line wont be located along the dynamic center of mass that the Check-Go provides."

I can align the Gatorade ring along the entire line that is made by the Check-go. It's really a great system!  

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Anonymous Will said...

The Gatorade ring is an excellent idea. I have been thinking about purchasing of of those plastic things for 9 dollars but it seems like a waste to spend that much on a piece of plastic. And considering I buy Gatorade almost everyday at the golf course..this is perfect!  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm begging you all....please stop this ridiculous drawing a line on the ball and using it to aim at the hole. This alone has probably added a half of an hour to a round of golf. Play is slow enough already. If your aim is that bad, maybe you should spend more time practicing your putting. Few things are more aggrevating than standing in the fairway watching the group on the green mark 3 foot putts and line them up. Here's what you do....determine the line of your putt while someone else is putting. When it's your turn, put your ball down and putt it! If you don't hole out, keep putting until you do. I think you will find that you will make more putts.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I previously posted a comment regarding my opposition to drawing a line on your ball to aim it. Some of you will say “I see the best putters in the world doing this, why shouldn’t I?” Here’s why. The professional golfers you see on TV practice putting every day. Their strokes are pure and therefore, for the most part, they will putt their ball exactly where it is aimed. Most amateurs never practice putting and therefore their strokes are flawed and they rarely hit the ball where it is aimed. I teach the short game and putting in particular, so I would like to offer some advice to help you improve your putting. I don’t want this post to be too long, so I can’t go into all of the details you will need but I will try to touch on the more important points.
There are two types of putters (people who putt.) You need to become (or you already are) one of those two. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. The first is someone who “dies” their putts into the hole. This means that as their ball reaches the hole it is barely moving (these are feel putters.) The other type is people whose ball is moving with greater velocity as it reaches the hole (these are aggressive putters.) The feel putters tend to be better lag putters but struggle with shorter putts. The aggressive putters tend to be better at the short putts but struggle with lag putts. The reason for that is that as a ball loses speed it will take more break. And, conversely, the faster a ball is moving the less break it will take. So, you need to determine which type of putter you are and read the break accordingly (feel putters should see more break, aggressive putters should see less break.) However, outside of 3 feet, you should always ere on the side of more break. Most people don’t read enough break into putts and therefore will miss most of their putts on the “low side” of the hole (meaning the ball will break in front of the hole, instead of behind it.)
In order to become a good putter, you have to “think” properly. Good putting requires that you both gather and process information. This must be done before you putt, so that when you are over your ball, all you have to do is hit the putt. That is to say, you should do all of your thinking before you address the ball. Once you are ready to putt the ball, your only thought should be to achieve the results that you have already planned. If you are standing over your putt thinking “I wonder how much this will break or how hard should I hit this, etc.” your have little chance of being successful. In the end, putting is what ultimately determines your score. Therefore, you should pay close attention to how you go about it. The majority of amateur golfers don’t think about putting at all until it’s their turn to putt.
I don’t want to go into too much detail, so as to end up with a 10 page post. But, here is some helpful information on how to become a better putter. As soon as your ball reaches the green, start thinking about your putt. Whether you are walking or riding, as you approach the green, absorb the details of the surroundings. Does the land cant to the left or right? Does the green slope from front to back or visa versa? Is there a body of water close by? If you have been waiting in the fairway for the group in front of you to putt out (pay attention!) did most of their putts come up short or did they go past the cup? Once you reach the green, try to determine which way the grain is growing. Will you be putting into the grain or with it? Try to “see” the line of your putt (it’s there grasshopper, if you just pay attention.) Once you have gathered and processed all of the information, you have two choices. You are now either going to try to make the putt go into the hole or you are going to try to get it close enough so that your next putt is stress free. Never intentionally try to make a putt outside of 10-12 feet (don’t get greedy!). Pick your line and your speed, hit the putt and if it goes in great! If not you should be left with an easily holeable second putt. Always try to make a putt inside of 10-12 feet. Whichever kind of putt you have, you are almost always better off to continue to putt if you miss. Having just putted, you have a feel for speed and line (even though you missed.) If you mark your ball and wait until two other people putt, you have lost that feeling. One last word of advice, if you are facing a 3-4 footer which will not break out of the hole, don’t aim at the hole. Aim at a spot one foot past the hole, directly on the other side and on your line. This will prevent you from coming up short and if there is some slight break, your ball will be moving fast enough to continue on a straight line. The most important piece of advice I can offer you on putting is, by all means do what the pros do….practice! The Line-Em-Up costs money. Practice is free. Even if you can’t get to a putting green, practice at home on the rug.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

My grandson, a high school senior came to me and asked me to teach him how to golf better. I took him the the practice designed for chipping, etc and I began teaching him as much as I knew about chiping and pitching over bunkers etc. He is a good learned and withing 3 weeks he has a very reliable short game. Driving range 10% of time  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree with the post that said placing a line on the ball is useless. Not only can it be used during the round, but taking it to the practice green is a valuable tool. If it works on the practice green, then it will invariably help during the round. If there are four golfers on the green and they all had balls with lines on them and can change four putts into three or maybe two putts, then they have speeded up the game, not the other way around. Yes, lining the ball does help along with plenty of practice on the practice green. Using lines on my balls to aim putts has dropped my handicap by 6 strokes. Using the line on the tee box to line up where I want the ball to go has shaved another 5 strokes off my game. Does it not speed up play by shaving stokes? Of course it does.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The line helps, but putting practice is better. i worked with a fellow golfer who marveled at my putting skill. I showed him a useful tool I learned years ago and he now has shaved 6 - 8 putts off his round, without a line. It takes sing two pencils and string. Place in green about 10 feet apart with string tight. practice putting straight, short putts. It corrected his poor form, so that now he sees where to putt and actually gets it there. next, before round, I showed him how to practice with a single tee. Instead of putting to cups, you putt to the tee. when you get on the course, the cups seem large. he now makes many more center of cup putts, and he uses no line. of course neither one of us plays every day or has to putt in front of crowds.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Few things are more aggrevating than standing in the fairway watching the group on the green mark 3 foot putts and line them up." by Anonymous

I can think of a couple of things that are more a-g-g-r-a-v-a-t-i-n-g. Poor spelling and S-O-B's standing in the fairway leaning on their clubs trying to push you along because they have to get back to their angry wives who have forced them to play military golf. Running from hole to hole to get finished as fast as possible so they can say they got a "quick" round in. If I want to mark a 3 footer to get a better line on it...I'm marking it.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad I found this idea before I spent $5 to $10 bucks. YOU ARE THE COOLEST DUDE IN THE WHOLE WORLD ! Thanks so much.  

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Anonymous A good games better than a quick one said...

Anonymous,
Too true, people who spell terribly but use words and sentences that they believe make them sound smart are rather annoying, as are those military golfers... Many of them, such as those at my local golf club, drive buggies and then complain when they catch up to a foursome of walkers. Always exaggerating how far behind we are from the group in front (it tends to be "two-three fairways, when in reality we have to wait for them on the next tee)  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it just me or are the majority of boys and men who work in golf course pro shops complete dicks with attitudes? Please feel free to weigh in on this one.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Cyprus where the gatorade bottles are different and have different lids so I will buy one. Lol  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one of those people leaning on his golf club in the fairway while the players in front take inordinately long on the greens, I say it is time we took pace of play seriously. I cannot understand why slow groups are so fearful of allowing faster players to play through. As for taking your time on the greens, that is cool if you are playing something akin to ready golf through the hole. My female partner and I walk often and invariably play more quickly than the people in front of us in carts and easily keep up with people with whom we are teamed who also use a cart. How long should a round of golf take? How about some courtesy to those of us who play better when we can play and not just stand around waiting for slower players to grind out their rounds. As a male player, by the way, the biggest offenders are young men then middle aged men. Leel of skill is also irrelevant; good players can be slow and lesser players can play quickly. I guess it would be emasculating to some men to allow others to play through.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ironic how the caps for the Tiger Gatorade do not fit. I just tried it oh well. good tip though  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

A side question: what is the best marker to avoid smearing and maintain longevity of the mark? Is there a noticeable difference in performance amongst colours of markers this way, or in visibility?  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Sharpie is probably the best permanent marker to use. I don't think that the color really matters. It's a personal preference.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ive just really started golfing this year. Ive worked a lot on my long game and can be on in regulation or maybe a stroke over most of the time, which for 3 months is good enough for me.
Putting is my downfall at this point.
Ive tried putting a line on my ball and it seems to be pretty good as long as it doesnt consume too much time on the green.
A friend who golfs told me to determine the line Im going to hit the ball along then when I put the ball back down just line that up quick and that at least keeps me from having to try to reread the green once the balls back in play.

Ive been doing it by figuring my line and then finding some blemish on the green or something on that line to use as reference. Its sort of ok but probably not as good as using a line on the ball.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something that really makes me wonder is how many golfers seem to want to rush thru a round.
I love playing afternoon when all the 'real' golfers have gone home for the day because I pay to enjoy myself.
I love being out on the course and when no one is there but me I'll take 10 or 15 minutes per hole just so I be out there as long as possible.
I simply cant grasp how someone can love golf but want to rush like a lightning bolt thru the course. What fun is that?  

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