DON’T LET YOUR EYES FOOL YOU

Golf Australia - - CONTENTS -

Your eye po­si­tion is cru­cial to build­ing a solid putting stroke, says PGA Pro­fes­sional Matt Bal­lard.

VI­SION is the first port of call in a putting les­son. Golf is played side on to the ball so our vi­sion is al­ways dis­torted as we stand over the ball. How many times have you stood over the golf ball and looked at the hole and thought this isn’t ex­actly where I am aim­ing or it doesn’t feel right?

To an­a­lyse some­one’s vi­sion, I put an align­ment stick down six feet from the hole and line it up dead straight, stand­ing di­rectly be­hind it look­ing to­wards the hole we both agree that it is lined up straight (pic 1). Then we walk in over the putt and I ask them to sim­u­late their golf pos­ture and then run their eyes along the stick and tell me if the stick is point­ing at the hole or not. Nine out of 10 peo­ple say no.

It’s ei­ther left edge, out­side left or right, and this has every­thing to do with where your eyes are sit­u­ated at ad­dress.

I will then ask the ques­tion, “Are you happy that you see left?” be­cause if you see left there is ev­ery chance you are go­ing to aim left (pic 2). And if you aim left a good ath­lete will have some stroke com­pen­sa­tion for what their brain is telling them through their vi­sion.

I have seen nu­mer­ous play­ers who are hold­ing on and open­ing the put­ter­face through im­pact but they don’t know why. It’s be­cause go­ing right back to the start, how

HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU STOOD OVER THE GOLF BALL AND LOOKED AT THE HOLE AND THOUGHT THIS ISN’T EX­ACTLY WHERE I AM AIM­ING OR IT DOESN’T FEEL RIGHT?

they stand over the putt, they see left, aim left and have to hold onto the put­ter­face.

To get the player into a po­si­tion where they ac­tu­ally see straight (pic 3) will mean a change in pos­ture, ei­ther get­ting fur­ther away or closer, stand­ing taller or bend­ing over more, or just a sim­ple change in neck po­si­tion. All of which will change their eye po­si­tion and their per­cep­tion of what they see as straight. Once we make that ad­just­ment, I en­cour­age play­ers to find a po­si­tion that is com­fort­able and helps them see straight, so they can then get into a habit of get­ting into that po­si­tion at setup all the time.

Once you take the align­ment stick away and you line a ball up to your hole, it is a mat­ter of trust­ing your new vi­sion and that the line is point­ing straight to your tar­get. It’s dif­fi­cult to trust this smaller line, so get­ting into that po­si­tion where you know you see straight helps a player de­velop trust that the line is to­wards their tar­get.

Some­times just fix­ing the vi­sion of a good put­ter will make them even bet­ter with­out even touch­ing their stroke.

Get­ting into a po­si­tion – whether it is fur­ther or closer to the ball, putting your eyes in­side, over or out­side the tar­get line (pics 4, 5 & 6) – to see straight can af­fect the stroke and might even re­quire an equip­ment change.

Typ­i­cally, if you have moved fur­ther away it is go­ing to pro­duce a more arc­ing stroke (pics 7 to 11) and it might re­quire a bend in lie an­gle or a slightly longer put­ter. Move closer and the put­ter will go more straight back and straight through (pics 12 to 16).

Too many peo­ple try and fight the put­ter de­sign, which will al­ways win. I see a lot of golfers with ma­nip­u­lated strokes try­ing to fit a put­ter that doesn’t fit them.

As I deal with vi­sion first and fore­most, and then fac­tor in the range vari­ables in dif­fer­ent golfers be they shorter, taller, left or right eye dom­i­nant, I don’t try and push any­one into any one par­tic­u­lar stroke or put­ter type.

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