Vision and your golf swing - week two

By Katherine RobertsMay 20, 2010, 12:50 am

Welcome to week two of “Vision and your golf swing”.  This information is an excerpt from my new book Swing Flaws and Fitness Fixes.

If you missed week one go to my archived articles.

Here we go!

Receiving the appropriate vision evaluation

For visually-guided balance to be most stable the total visual system must be operating at peak efficiency. First and foremost the “Hardware” must be evaluated and any limitations corrected.  Without such intervention the “Software” skills, including balance, can never be fully operational.  

Relative to the vision “Hardware” I first recommend that the golfer receives a comprehensive VISION exam, not EYE exam, by a knowledgeable vision care practitioner (VCP) who “Sets the Vision Performance Bar” higher, and evaluates far more than just acuity (clarity of sight; 20/20 or 6/6, etc), presence of nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, and eye health. The VCP should also evaluate, at minimum, such skills as two-eyed use, depth perception at distance, and eye-movement and fixation skills. Visual acuity should be maximized and balanced between the two eyes for maximal depth perception, spatial awareness and balance.  Most eyecare practitioners do not apply a different standard to golfers or other athletes versus the average patient.   But, the visual and environmental demands are far greater and unique for athletes than non-athletes. 

There is a solution

If a vision correction is deemed appropriate I attempt to place every golfer, no matter what age, into single vision soft contact lenses, preferably a daily disposable option. Daily disposable contact lenses provide maximal comfort and clarity for every round. Contact lenses are superior to traditional spectacle corrections from both an environmental and optical standpoints.  There are no problems with lens reflections, fogging, sweat, foreign debris, surface scratches, frame/lens weight, frame interference, pressure points or optical distortions with contact lenses. Blurry vision, optical distortions inherent with prescription lenses, and frame interference can have detrimental effects on golf performance, including stability and balance. 

Vision / balance relationship exercise #2:

Kenny Perry glassesPeripheral vision is critical to balance/stability.  With your hands in the form of fists, create small tunnels to view thru. While standing on 1 foot fixate on a distant target straight ahead at eye level. While maintaining fixation on the distant target and continuing to stand on one foot, slowly bring both fists up directly in front of your eyes blocking all peripheral vision, similar to a pair of binoculars.  You will note that balance/stability becomes stressed.

The impact of bifocals on golf performance

For those about 50 years old and now wearing some form of eyewear with a “Bifocal” (or “No Line”) prescription for daily use, such a near vision correction is unnecessary, and possibly performance limiting, in golf.  The bifocal generally blurs sight beyond the reading distance, therefore blurring the ball and clubhead.  To avoid the blur, the golfer then makes a compensatory change in head orientation to see clearly around the blur zone, resulting in a changed posture, balance and swing mechanics.  Such a prescription distorts the periphery resulting in false spatial information, which can lead to instability and balance issues.  Our research has shown that the visual demands of golf do NOT require a near prescription during play to see clearly.  Normally, the only near demand during a round of golf is the scorecard.  In the bright outdoors our pupils are smaller than indoors resulting in greater depth of focus (or field) resulting in the ability to see clearer much closer to oneself, including the scorecard.

Golf, reliant upon visual precision in many angles of gaze, is an endurance sport in that it is played for hours under extremes in environmental conditions, including glare and shadow. Many golfers who wear sunglasses, park their eyewear on the top of their caps, particularly on the green, because the optics, tint, or frame interferes or distorts their vision.  A golf-specific pair of sun eyewear is recommended to filter out potentially harmful radiation from the sun, such as UV and blue light, to allow the golfer to be more comfortable, and to provide better clarity of the golfing environment. As discussed previously, prescription eyewear has inherent optical distortions which can effect judgment of critical visual information on the course. But, even non-prescription eyewear includes varying levels of distortion, which can result in inaccurate reads of the green.  Nike’s golf specific eyewear incorporates technologies to address the limitations of optics, tint, and frame interference and comfort. (go to www.NikeVision.com for specific product solutions) 

Types of lenses

The lens tint must allow one to see safely, comfortably, and accurately. For those of you who currently wear or have considered wearing polarized sun eyewear, this technology can limit golf performance.  First, it slightly reduces visual clarity due to its composition.  Secondly, it reduces the amount of critical visual information coming off of each blade of grass, which varies with angle of gaze, head orientation, angle relative to the changing angles/directions of the sun, and contour of the green.  Polarized lenses were developed for the fishing industry. They reduce the harsh glare off of the water, but unfortunately, when on land, they induce variability, an enemy of the golfer.

What about the darkness or lightness of the tint? While snow reflects ~85% of light, and cement ~45, grass reflects only 3-7%. Therefore, to best capture the critical information reflecting off of each blade of grass for contour recognition, a golf-specific lens tint should be much lighter in shade that a general use sunglass. General use lens tints, which are fairly dark in appearance, transmit only ~13-15% of the light reaching the eyewear. A golf specific tint should reflect more than 20%, in the range of 23-25%.  In summary, a golf specific non-polarized tint which transmits only the critical colors of the blades of grass, ball and other surrounds, and is lighter in density than traditional tints, is recommended.

Vision / balance relationship exercise #3:

Think of Polarized lenses as a type of Venetian Blind to filter out reflected glare. While wearing polarized sunglasses, standing near water facing the sun with bright glare reflected, tilt your head back and forth towards each shoulder as if to pour water out of your ear. You will notice the harsh glare alternating between an uncomfortable bright and a more comfortable dim reflection. Next, repeat the demo while standing near the edge of a green with varying contours, and facing towards the sun at a relative low angle,. You will notice variability of the appearance of the grass and perceived topography. 

Lastly, head position and angle of gaze can influence depth perception and balance.  Looking straight ahead is dramatically different than looking to the right or left while holding the head in a downward direction and lateral position while putting.  Exercising these various physical and ocular postures for improved efficiency is recommended.

Vision / balance relationship exercise #4:

While standing on one foot (alternating right or left) tilt head from straight ahead gaze to the putting posture and feel the pulling sensation and decreased stability.  Gradually exaggerate the angles of head torsion and angles of visual gaze.  Hold such gaze.  You will feel even greater pulling sensation and instability.   



Editor's Note: Katherine Roberts, founder of www.KRFlexFit.com and www.YogaForGolfers.com has over 20 years of experience in golf specific fitness training, yoga studies, professional coaching and motivation. Katherine welcomes your email questions and comments, contact her at Katherine@KRFlexFit.com

Getty Images

Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

Getty Images

Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”