Did you see the article in the New Yorl Times about looking at the hole and not the ball? What do you think about this?
I did see the article and thought it was very good. Dr. Bob Christina and Eric Alpenfels – the researchers about whom the article was written – have done some very good work in teaching and putting. We have worked closely with both of them in the past and will be working even more closely as time goes on.
The concept you are asking me to comment on is the idea of looking at the hole when putting. As the data shows this has helped a number of golfers, and we use it when teaching putting, more as a practice drill than a suggestion for on-course putting.
The reason why we find it works so well is that by looking at the hole we are not distracted by what our eyes see through our peripheral vision. Even though we are not looking at the putter during the back stroke, we do see it – peripherally – and our mind sends messages to the body to correct what it sees if this is not according to what it had planned for our back stroke. This in-swing conflict and correction can have some detrimental effects on our stroke. If we can reduce this interference and let our body do what it had planned to do, we will generally be better off and sink more putts.
David, you can try looking at the hole on the practice green as a regular practice drill. It will certainly help in judging distance more effectively and eliminate the peripheral vision interference. If you decide to use it on the course, make sure that you don’t lose confidence in making good contact with the ball while looking at the hole. Having a forgiving and well-balanced putter will build this confidence.Have faith and don’t let your mind interfere with the execution of a good plan.
Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf. Thomas is chief technical advisor to GolfChannel.com. He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email firstname.lastname@example.org