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Wednesday
Nov292017

Study: Golfers Make A Few More Putts Looking At The Hole

Jordan Spieth does it from time to time and many instructors have advocated looking at the hole to help struggling putters.

But according to a professor Sasho Mackenzie and student Neil MacInnis at St. Francis Xavier University, their studies show looking at the hole is productive.

Thanks reader DGS for this Elizabeth McMillan CBC story on the study, that you can find here.

They held sessions over four days with 28 experienced golfers who tested the hypothesis with breaking putts — shots where the green slopes and golfers don't aim directly for the hole.

Forty per cent of the putts where golfers looked at the target line went in the hole — three per cent more than when they kept their eyes on the ball.

To put that in perspective, MacInnis said golfers typically make 33 putting strokes a round.

"It doesn't sound like it's a big difference but if you think about it in golf terms … you're going to save one stroke a round and that's actually very meaningful for golfers," he said.

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Reader Comments (12)

I've actually done this and if you are careful with your initial setup and alignment, it actually works.

I've also resorted to making short putts with either my eyes closed or utterly out of focus and that works well.
11.29.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGreg B.
I have never been able to take this on the course in a tournament, but it is, for me, a fantastic practise exercise when I feel that my head is moving before striking the ball in the stroke. It makes perfect sence when you compare it to other sport actions, most notibly a free throw.
11.29.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBDF
The conclusion reached is incorrect: the 3% only applies to putts in that range. Roughly 8-11 putts in a round are tap-ins, so the 3% doesn't apply to them. Also, on longer putts, the chances of mis-hitting the ball with the longer stroke will actually cause you to take more putts.

The 3% number only applies to putts within a pretty narrow window - longer than a tap-in, shorter than, what, 10 feet? 12? - and golfers only have a few of those per round.
11.29.2017 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski
I won my first city tourney putting this way on every putt in the mid 90's. I got the idea from the "Inner Game of Golf" and it worked for me that week. Since then I have tried other variations but will return to this method on putts inside 6 feet since I tend to peek a little. For me this method isolated the result from the stroke in a way other approaches did not. It tends to hold up in competition more often when results seem to matter more. Ray Floyd has used it in the Father Son too.
11.29.2017 | Unregistered Commentermunihack
It can help some with feel, but I find it distracting. I put more faith in taking mental pictures, confirming mechanics, and "listening" to feet.
11.29.2017 | Unregistered CommenterFC
For me, I found looking at the hole helped me most on long putts with speed control more than line.
11.29.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGreg B.
I would think sidesaddle is the way to go, especially on short putts. Bryson DeChambeau thought so, too, but for some reason -- I still don't know the reason -- his custom-built putter was deemed non-conforming.
11.29.2017 | Unregistered Commenter3foot1
Interesting, except they're not looking at the hole....they're looking down the target line.
11.29.2017 | Unregistered Commentergwcanuck
EriK- my take is simply 3% is statistically meaningless. ~~dig~~
11.29.2017 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Agreed, dig.
11.29.2017 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski
3 percent is meaningful if it means you make the 4 footer to win when you get the chance, or have to make it to tie. Ask Scott Hoch or Doug Sanders or Ed Sneed. People spend $400 dollars on a new driver hoping to get 3 percent more length off the tee.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered Commentermunihack
I read the study....the 3% difference may not sound like much, but it is a statistically significant difference. The study authors present the calculations to show that it is.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered Commentergwcanuck

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