February 2010

Putting and Eye Positioning

Author: Pete Popovich

In the game of golf, putting is an art unto itself. It is often referred to as the “black art,” because attempting to improve your putting without proper guidance can lead you down dark roads where you can become totally, and often permanently, lost.

There have been many studies conducted, books written and tests invented regarding how to putt accurately and consistently. Most revolve around conventional theories divided by subtle personal twists that actually make it difficult to separate what contributes to great putting from what contributes to poor or mediocre putting.

At the Golf Performance Academy, we believe that we differ from nearly all conventional golf instructional schools. Why do we believe so? Because we believe that to permanently solve a problem, we must first identify the inner or root cause before we can work outward to gain the desired solution or effect. Often we are asked, “How do you know how to identify the cause, while most others can only relate to effects?” The response is simple: fundamentals!

The putting stroke, much like the full swing, is dictated by set-up; and it is critical to remember that set-up determines motion. If the set-up is not correct, then, regardless of whether your stroke is straight-back- straight-through or an arc stroke, errors occur.

It is generally agreed that the most important part of your set-up, as it pertains to putting, is the position of the eyes relative to the ball. It is also generally agreed by most instructors that that position is “eyes over the ball.” At the Golf Performance Academy, we disagree with this perception. Why? Because, in reality, there are four eye positions you should be aware of if you wish to be an improved or even a great putter.

THE EYES OF THE BEHOLDER
The eyes are the cameras to the brain. The images our eyes receive are transferred from the eye to the optic nerve to the back of our brain and the occipital, parietal, and temporal lobes. Within these lobes, perceptions of auditory, visual and spatial awareness are processed and determined, and messages are sent to the front of our brain and the cortexes (prefrontal, premotor, and supplemental motor area). The cortexes are where the brain tells the body which muscles to use and how to use them; i.e. which muscles fire first, second, third; how much strength/force to use, and so on. When we read a putt from behind the ball and look at the hole, we get an idea or a picture of the path the ball will take to the hole and how forcefully to stroke it to make it travel the prescribed distance. When we stand over the ball and look at the hole, we get another view of the hole. If the image of the ball’s path from above the ball does not match the image of the ball’s path from behind the ball, we get two different images. Two different images will cause the brain to give the body two different messages regarding which muscles to use and when to use them. Because the body and brain are not working together, the putting stroke will suffer and a missed putt most often results.

Usually, when caught in this dilemma, a golfer will sense something “doesn’t feel right” and will either putt anyway or start to second guess his read. He does not realize, because no one has shown him that the read was not the problem but that the placement of the eyes, that distorted or conflicting images was the problem.

In order to become a great putter, a golfer must have his eyes in the proper place and position to give a consistent and correct image of the putt’s path and where the hole is located. Done properly, then, and only then, can he become a great putter.

The four eye positions, or eye factors, that have to be considered are 1) eye dominance 2) eye tropia 3) eye gaze 4) eyes over the ball.

If you would like to know more about how these eye positions affect putting and how you can become a great putter regardless of your perceived skill level, please contact the Golf Performance Academy of the Low Country at www.golfacademyhiltonhead.com/ or call us at (843) 338-6737.

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Mulligans Golf Balls & More!
102 Buckwalter Pkwy Suite 3-B, Bluffton SC. 29910
In Sea Turtles plaza next to Outback.
843-815-2621

Mulligan’s Golf Balls and More was Nicole Carmany’s bright idea. In early 2008 she convinced her somewhat skeptical father, Mike Miller, to open a golf store specializing in “experienced” (translation: used) balls.

Mike Miller recalls thinking “Let me get this straight. You think we should open a golf store that will compete with large chain stores, in the middle of a recession, and sell “used” golf balls too?” Despite his initial misgivings, Mike did indeed open such a golf store in Bluffton.

Since then, the father -daughter team have been offering superior customer service, quality products at reasonable prices AND experienced golf balls to the Lowcountry. Mulligan’s has now been open for just over a year now and they credit their success to valued customers (friends, really) for loyally shopping with them.

Mulligan’s Special Pricing on Golf Balls:
Titleist from $9.95
ProV1 from $19.95
Nike from $8.95
Pinnacle from $6.95
Volvik Crystal from $8.95
They also carry a wide variety of NCAA, MLB and NFL golf products and custom, order hard-to-find golf products.

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