By David Dusek
Monday, March 05, 2007

Conventional wisdom says that when you putt, you should look at the ball for the duration of your stroke, and keep your eyes on that spot until well after the ball has been struck. It's the way that nearly every golfer rolls the rock

But what if there were a better way. What if there was a completely legal method of putting that could help you sink more putts and leave shorter secopnd-putts when you miss? And get that improvement in a hurry! \n

After completing tests exclusively for GOLF Magazine and, Eric Alpenfels, a GOLF MAGAZINE Top 100 Teacher and director of Pinehurst Golf Advantage, and Dr. Bob Christina, dean emeritus of the School of Health and Human Performance at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, may have found just such a way. \n

The Unconventional Theory: You should look at the hole — not the ball — from the moment you set the club behind the ball until you complete your putting stroke.

\nWho they tested: Forty players ranging in handicap from eight to 36. They were divided into two 20-person groups, with each group balanced in terms of handicap, age and gender. One was the experimental group. The other was the control group. This control group used the conventional method of looking at the ball while putting throughout the test.

The Experiment: Using the conventional method of looking at the ball, all 40 players putted nine balls to holes ranging from three feet to 43 feet away. The results were statistically equal.

Next, the control group putted one ball to each of nine targets in random order. The experimental group did the same but with one huge change: They were instructed to go through their normal pre-putt routine, but rather than looking at the ball as they made their stroke, they were told to look at the hole.

Then we compared the two groups. How did looking at the hole measure up? The results will surprise you. \n

The Shocking Results!

Long putts end up significantly closer to the hole when you look at the hole while making your stroke.

By comparison, on the same long putts, the control group (those who looked at the ball) left themselves nearly 37 inches remaining to the hole. That means the experimental group was 24 percent closer, 9 inches that could be the difference between a two-putt and a three-putt.

Looking at the hole may be more effective on short putts, too.

It's Easy to Learn!

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of these findings was how quickly the group that looked at the hole improved.

After just 45 putts, the group that looked at the hole was leaving just over 20 inches to the hole on average on putts from three feet to 43 feet.

That's a 27.5 percent improvement over when they looked at the ball. Overall, the experimental l group imp roved nearly twice as much as the control group with same minimal amount of practice.

Rather than looking at the ball (left photo) as they made their stroke, the subjects were told to look (right photo) at the hole the entire time.

Why They Got Better!

  • They were playing to the strength of their brain.

  • They kept almost perfectly still.

  • They didn't decelerate through the ball.

  • How to Work Looking at the Hole into Your Game

  • Days 1-5:
  • Days 6-7:
  • Day 8-13:
  • Day 14:
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