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Dominant Eye Closest to Target in Setup

February 11 2003 at 7:10 AM
Stephen Cheng  (Login puttmagic)
from IP address 172.166.182.198

Geoff,

I read with interest your article on dominant eye putting. As much of it was too technical for me (and perhaps others) I would like to make the suggestion that I made to Golf Magazine and Golf Digest in Sept 2001 on how to explain it.

Simply stated, you need to putt with your dominant eye closest to the hole. Right eye dominant golfers need to putt left handed for the reasons you have discovered in your research. Otherwise they will make an aiming error and hit their putts an inch or two from where it actually is.

It is more than that however, and I have concluded without the benefit of any science or research that:

1. The first thing any instructor should determine is the dominant eye of any beginner golfer (including children). the dominant eye determines which side they should play from or at least putt from. This is basic aiming science like shooting a rifle. the same thing applies to baseball or any other sport requiring precision aiming.

2. Jack Nicklaus is the most famous golfer putting from the wrong side. He is right eye dominant and compensates by taking an extremely open stance. the same could be said for Tom Watson, Tom Kite, Johnny Miller, (Tiger Woods too) and others. Wonder why only 2% of all golfers play/putt left handed. A large portion are right eye dominant (which may be linked to left handedness - 15% of the population) and should be putting and aiming with their dominant eyes closest to the hole.

3. Putting with your dominant eye away from the hole is the real cause of the yips. This is because you are putting where you think the hole is, but it is a mirage. the hole is actually a few centimeters left or right of where you see it. No wonder you would get frustrated after hitting it exactly where you aimed but always missing. Or you could make a compensating adjustment a la jack Nicklaus.

I will email you my letter to golf digest from my office computer if you are interested.

Regards,

Stephen Cheng.

 
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Geoff Mangum
(Login puttmagic)
172.166.182.198

Sidedness versus Eye Dominance and Setup

February 11 2003, 7:14 AM 

Dear Stephen,

You have obviously paid a lot of attention to this subject. In analyzing which side the golfer should putt from, perhaps it is important to know how visual wiring is connected from the eye to the brain and how the brain relates to control of left and right handedness. If you look straight ahead (at the ball at address, for example), everything in the scene that is to the left of the ball enters the two eyes and strikes the back of each eyeball on the right half of the inside of the eyeball. For the left eye, this is the "nasal" side of the eyeball's insides. For the right eye, this is the "temporal" side. From the back of the eyeballs, the nerves around the back surface of the eyeball collect up light in lines of nerves (like a bundle of cables). This bundle is gathered together at the back of each eyeball like a cord and enters the brain directly. The cabling is kept in order as signals are run to the back of the brain. The brain has two halves or hemispheres (right and left). Each cable has about one million separate "wires" in the bundle, but they are in order. Here's the trick: signals from the right side of each eyeball's inside gets carried to the right hemisphere, and signals on the left side of each eyeball's inside gets carried to the left hemisphere. So everything to the left of the ball gets sent to the right side of the brain; everything to the right of the ball gets sent to the left side of the brain. Whatever point you are looking at (ball, target, cup, etc.), this division of the visual perception of the world occurs.

The difference it makes is that the hemispheres of the brain control opposite sides of the body. The left hemisphere runs the right hand, and the right hemisphere runs the left hand. So, the vision to the left of the ball goes to the side of the brain that runs the left hand, and everything to the right of the ball goes to the side of the brain that runs the right hand. In other words, whatever hand is closer to the target is the hand most coordinated with vision of the target in the sense that the vision is processed on the same side of the brain that runs the hand closest to the target. I think this has a lot to do with why left-hand low stroke works well for right-handed golfers, or left-hand control works well, and right-hand control is streaky.

In terms of eye dominance, for a right-handed, right-eyed golfer, this means that looking at the ball, the nose blocks a lot of the view to the target as far as the right eye is concerned, and the main visual input from the left side between the ball and target is coming into the "nasal" side of the left eye. But when the golfer turns the head and eyes to look at the target and "sight" the target with his dominant eye, it basically means he gets his nose out of the way and aims his right eye at the target. Notice that in looking from the ball to the target with the right eye, everything that matters in the putt registers on the right side of the insides of the eyeballs, and thus goes to the right side of the brain, which controls the left hand. It is not until the golfer aims his eye PAST the target that the important section of the scene (between ball and target) first registers on the left side of the back of the eyeballs.

For a golfer like Nicklaus (right-handed but left-eye dominant), he wants to aim his left eye at the target. But this doesn't change which side of his brain is registering the view between ball and hole. For that, only his point of gaze fixation matters.

So, based on this, I don't exactly agree with you that the golfer needs to get whichever eye is dominant "closer" to the hole in his setup. The relationship between vision and hand-control just doesn't seem to be that way. I think right-handed golfers are better using the left hand to control the stroke for line, because the side of the world they are putting into is seen in the same side that runs the left hand. In Nicklaus' case, he favored letting the right hand control the stroke, which is as it should be for a cross-dominant golfer.

I think the reason a left-eyed but right-handed golfer wants to stand "open" to the target has more to do with what eye dominance really is. The brain usually uses both eyes, but when there is a need to precisely focus on a specific direction that relates the head';s location to an object or place in space, the problem is that the two eyes have different aims to the same place in space -- since the eyes are separated in the head by a little over two inches. To solve this problem, the brain just ignores the information from one of the two eyes (for this purpose of sensing the location's direction in relation to the head), and does this habitually. Eventually, the brain "suppresses" the directional information from the nondominant eye to allow the dominant eye's view to make a clearer registration. That's fine, but orienting the body as a whole the way you do in the setup is more about handedness than it is about eye dominance. After all, the dominant eye doesn't care which side of the target it is on.

Handedness is not simply which hand is preferred for certain tasks with the hands, but is also about which half or side of the body is preferred when we orient the torso in space in preparation for action. A right-handed boxer planning on throwing a right cross orients his right torso to the target and moves the right torso back to front at the target. A left-handed tennis player makes a forehand stroke moving the left side of the body towards the net. This orienting the torso to a location in space is fundamental to targeting.

Consider Nicklaus' situation as a left-handed person playing golf right-handed. If he sets up square to the line of the putt, his two shoulders are parallel to the target line. If he wanted to move his left torso forward at the target, he couldn't -- because "forward" is already past the target. But if he sets up "open", he can still move his left side towards the target. So leaving himself some room for action towards the target by his favored hand side, to me, explains the usefulness of an "open" stance in getting a more comfortable orientation to the target. This body-in-action orientation helps him sense the location of the target.

If there is a relationship between sidedness and eye dominance, it is probably the case that most right-handers are also right-eye dominant, but I'm not sure that it is also true that most left-handers are left-eye dominant. What does seem to matter is whether the dominant eye is brought to bear on the target by moving the gaze from the dominant side to the target or from the nondominant side to the target. Characteristically, a right-handed golfer moves the right eye right to left to the target, and this is consistent with bringing the eye to bear on the target with the right torso moving at the target. For a left-eye dominant but right-handed golfer, the eye is brought to bear on the target still by moving the right side of the torso at the target. This remains the case even when this golfer sets up "open" in looking from ball to target. But if the golfer is really left-handed playing right-handed, he will want to move the eye consistent with involving his left side in orienting to the target.

In this analysis, a left-handed person playing golf right-handed but left-eye dominant will not feel as comfortable setting up square, and will feel better able to sense the target location if he sets up "open" AND if at some point he brings his gaze to bear on the target from left to right, as a supplement to looking from the ball to the target right to left.

Based upon this view of the matter, I have helped left-handed people playing golf left-handed by opening up the stance a bit. The fact that they are left-eye dominant really isn't the key to why an "open" stance helps them feel better connected with the target. I have also helped right-handed people who play left-handed and who are right-eye dominant by getting them to stand slightly "open" to the target. While it is true both of these have the dominant eye closer to the target, I think they really have to bring the eye to bear on the target from back to front with their dominant side.

I would like to see a right-handed golfer putting right-handed but who is left-eye dominant. I don't think this person would need to stand open or to bring the eye to bear on the target from left to right. The golfer should feel perfectly fine sighting the target in the normal manner of looking from ball to target, right to left. I'll keep an eye out for such a case, now that you've raised the issue.

The general, main idea is that eye dominance is only a subservient aspect of how the body and brain as a whole orients to a target in space. When the action is putting, and the torso movements of putting in relation to the target, eye dominance is probably not as important a factor in setup comfort and targeting accuracy as sidedness or handedness. But I'll keep an open mind. let's discuss it further until we feel we're sure one way or the other.

I certainly would like to see your letter to Golf Digest, too!

--
Cheers!

Geoff Mangum
Putting Theorist and Instructor

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This message has been edited by aceputt from IP address 24.167.140.53 on Mar 23, 2005 8:02 AM


 
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Geoff Mangum
(Login puttmagic)
172.166.182.198

Slight correction

February 11 2003, 7:23 AM 

This sentence is misstated:

"Based upon this view of the matter, I have helped left-handed people playing golf left-handed by opening up the stance a bit. "

It should read:

"Based upon this view of the matter, I have helped left-handed people playing golf right-handed by opening up the stance a bit. "

Sorry. Lapsus.

Geoff


    
This message has been edited by aceputt from IP address 24.167.140.53 on Mar 23, 2005 7:46 AM


 
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Stephen Cheng
(Login puttmagic)
172.149.20.53

Percent Cross Dominant

February 11 2003, 1:36 PM 

Geoff,

Most right handed people are left eye dominant and visa versa. That is why most of them (right handers) putt better right handed. I am sure I heard that Nicklaus is right eye dominant. Why don 't you ask him?

Stephen.

 
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Geoff Mangum
(Premier Login aceputt)
Forum Owner
24.167.140.53

Studies of Cross Dominance & Performance

March 23 2005, 7:56 AM 

Dear Stephen,

I have been restudying this issue, and have found a couple of interesting items to add to our consideration:

This from page 87 in Golf Digest July 1973, pp 85-89: Dr Donald Tieg, Eyes on the PGA Tour - They're not what you think, our tests show:

"The general population is 70-80 percent same-side dominant, meaning that they are either right-handed and right-eyed or left-handed and left-eyed. professional athletes have a much greater tendency for being cross dominant. The dominant eye processes information 21 milliseconds faster than the nondominant eye. Therefore, if you're in a baseball batter's stance, you'd want the eye closest to the pitcher to be your dominant eye. As a matter of fact, 50 percent of the major league players I tested were cross dominant, and the better teams had more cross dominant players. In 1980, 70 percent of the Kansas City Royals were cross dominant, and they had the highest batting average in the major leagues. The Seattle Mariners that year were only 43 percent cross dominant, and they had one of the lowest batting averages.

Going into the tests, we thought that a similar relationship would exist in golf. The ideal golfer would set up with his dominant eye closer to the target. Cross dominance in golf makes it easier for you to keep your dominant eye on the ball as you take away the club on the backswing. Our study showed that 32 percent of golfers are cross dominant, only slightly higher than the norm, but the best players had a higher tendency to be left-eyed and right-handed. Arnold Palmer, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite and Craig Stadler are cross dominant. Although we didn't test him, Jack Nicklaus is known to be cross dominant, too. There are a lot of great players who are same-side dominant -- Tom Watson, Ray Floyd and Seve Ballesteros, among them -- but, in my opinion, it is a disadvantage they overcame."

On the other hand, the American Association of Optometrists studied handedness and eye dominance in baseball and found no benefit from cross dominance. AAO: Hand Eye Dominance - You Put Your Right Hand In, You Turn Your Left Eye Out, You Put Your Left Hand In ... It's All a Bunch of Hokie-Pokie, San Francisco, 2 Oct 1998 [hand / eye dominance makes no difference in baseball batting or pitching performance].

"For years, students of baseball believed hand-eye dominance was an important factor in determining a baseball player's batting performance. The thinking was crossed-dominance (left eye, right hand) was better because the batter's dominant eye naturally faces the pitcher and oncoming ball. Others felt same-dominance (right eye, right hand) was better because as the batter steps up to bat, he must turn his head to face the pitcher, bringing his dominant eye forward, insuring maximum depth perception.

In an effort to answer the question of dominance patterns, Drs. Laby, Kirschen, Rosenbaum, and Mellman of the Jules Eye Institute at UCLA studied 410 members of the Los Angeles Dodgers professional baseball team during the 1992-1995 baseball seasons. According to Daniel M. Laby, M.D., "Our data shows no statistically significant difference between dominance patterns and ERA (earned runs average) and batting average." Major League players with same-dominance had an average batting average of .271, while players with crossed-dominance averaged .251. Major League pitchers with same-dominance had an ERA average of 3.34, while the ERA average of pitchers with crossed-dominance was 3.56. Dr. Laby states, "While the 'standard' methods for testing ocular dominance need to be reexamined, I can say with certainty that today there is no proven relationship between ocular dominance and baseball performance. While the data does show players with same-dominance have better batting averages and ERAs than those with crossed-dominance, the difference is not statistically significant. I would not suggest anyone change their eye or hand dominance, or the way they hit, in an attempt to improve their batting average."

The authors of this study hope their results will finally put an end to the question of crossed versus same dominance, and allow coaches, parent, players, and fans to simply "Play Ball!"

Going the other way, a study of academic performance comparing 540 students in the 1st thru 5th grades -- right-hand / right-eye versus cross dominant -- found that cross dominant students performed significantly worse at reading and visuao-spatial tests. Handedness, Eyedness, Hand-Eye Dominance & Academic Performance, W. C. Maples, O.D.

"A three-year prospective, longitudinal, multi-school study was undertaken to investigate if either handedness, eyedness, their same or opposite side status (unilateral or crossed hand-eye dominance) was related to specific aspects of elementary school academic performance.  Some 540 subjects, in 1st through 5th grades comprised the initial group. Testing on the reading sub-test of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (Iowa) was done three times over the course of the study.  Subjects’ hand and eye dominance, performance on the Visual Motor Integration Test (VMI) and Wold Sentence Copy Test (Wold) were evaluated six times over the course of the study. Not all of the initial subjects were available for subsequent testing.

There was no significant relationship found between any portions of the reading sub-tests of the Iowa and handedness or eyedness. The group of unilateral hand- eye dominant scored significantly higher than those with crossed hand-eye dominance on the Iowa’s reading comprehension and total reading scores. Significantly better performance was found for right handed, right eyed individuals as well as unilateral dominant subjects on the VMI. Handedness was not significant in performance on the Wold, but the right eyed and unilateral dominant scored significantly better than their left eyed and crossed dominant counterparts.  Speculations are given on the meaning and clinical implications of the findings."

Golf psychologist David Norman says that cross dominance is harmful for golfers, and advises correcting it by patching over the dominant eye and training the nondominant eye to work more. Cross Dominance and How to Correct It.

The same disagreement exists in archery and target shooting. Some people advise cross dominant shooters to change hands to the dominant eye's side, and others advise to train the nondominant eye by patching the dominant eye. See Browning Magic Dot, Gamaliel Shooting Accessories, to obscure dominant eye vision for shooters.

I don't really buy what Dr Tieg has to say, because there is a very great difference between hitting a fast ball covering 60 feet at 90 mph and putting. The "faster processing" that he is referring to does not happen in the eyeball itself, but in the brain in both hemispheres. The rationale that you want the "faster" eye closer to the stationary target doesn't make sense to me. And the argument that cross dominant golfers can keep the dominant eye on the ball easier in the backswing may well be true for the full swing, but it has little or no application to putting, unless the head moves during the putting backstroke. He also was not very careful to distinguish whether a golfer who plays right handed is really left-side dominant and left-handed in all other things, like Palmer.

BUT... the most intriguing study found that eye dominance actually shifts from eye to eye depending upon which eye the target is closer to, and whether the image of the target looks larger in one eye or the other. Eye dominance changes with eye position and image magnification Tandra Ghose, M.S. Banks, J.M. Hillis, Journal of Vision - Volume 2, Number 7, (Nov 20, 2002), Abstract 326.

"Eye dominance switches depending on whether the observer is looking left or right (Khan & Crawford, 2001). It is not known whether the switch is caused by a change in the eyes’ positions, by a change in relative image magnification, or by both. We investigated the cause of dominance switch by independently manipulating eye position and image magnification. The stimuli were presented in a custom haploscope. A small target was presented in the center of a square. The target had zero disparity and the square had crossed disparity. Eye position was manipulated by rotating the arms of the haploscope so that the observer had to turn the eyes to look at the stimuli. Relative image magnification was manipulated by calculating the magnification associated with a variety of azimuths and applying them to the dichoptic square. On each trial, observers indicated whether the target appeared displaced leftward or rightward from the center of the square. If the left eye was dominant, the target would appear displaced to the left. If the right eye was dominant, it would be displaced rightward. The results showed, in agreement with Khan and Crawford, that the left eye was more dominant when the eyes were turned leftward and the right eye more dominant when they were turned rightward. The results also showed that relative image magnification affected dominance. For example, when the eyes were turned rightward, but the image was larger in the left eye, dominance shifted toward the left eye. We conclude that the shift in eye dominance that occurs with viewing direction is caused by both eye position and relative image magnification."

Based on all of the above, I still believe in the importance of side-dominance in the setup, but I am more open to your suggestion about having the dominant eye closer to the target based upon the study in Journal of Vision.

We've got our work cut out for us to figure this out satisfactorily.

--
Cheers!

Geoff Mangum
Putting Theorist and Instructor

The PuttingZone.com
http://puttingzone.com>
The Future of Putting Now -
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Stephen Cheng
(Premier Login aceputt)
Forum Owner
24.167.140.53

Golf Digest Letter

March 23 2005, 7:58 AM 

Stephen Cheng
5620 Maple Road,
Richmond, British Columbia
Canada V7E 1G3
Telephone: (604) 713-0818
Email: js_cheng@direct.ca

January 18, 2001

Letters to the Editor By Fax (203) 371-2162
GOLF DIGEST
5520 Park Avenue
Box 395
Trumbull, Connecticut
U.S.A.

Dear Sirs:

Please bring this letter to the attention of Johnny Miller.

Here is my Article on putting using your dominant eye. It is something not explained in Dave Pelz's "Putting Bible" or any instructional article in the two major golf publications that I have been reading over the last 20 years.

'Using Your Dominant Eye'

It is important to putt with your dominant eye closest to the hole. In other words, if you are right eye dominant you should putt left-handed. Otherwise you will continually see the hole slightly to the left (correction) of where it actually is and miss an alarming number of short putts because of this. Alternatively you will have to make a compensating move on the "downswing" leading to inconsistency (and possibly the yips). It is an alignment or aiming error.

Your dominant eye is determined at birth and can't be changed no matter how hard you try. Putt left or right depending on which eye is dominant. Take this simple test to determine your dominant eye.

1) With both eyes open, extend one arm with index finger vertical. Then line up your index finger with a vertical object in the distance (i.e. 30 feet).
2) Close your left eye only and see if the object and your index finger remain in line. If it remains aligned you are right eye-dominant. If it moves you are left eye dominant.
3) Repeat steps 1 & 2, except close the right eye instead of the left this time. If the object and your finger remain in line, you are left eye dominant.
4) Try lining up an object as close as 2-6 feet. Your index finger will still move considerably when the dominant eye is closed.

A golfer lines up the ball from behind, and then turns sideways to putt. He swivels his head from ball to hole and back to confirm the line. If he uses his non-dominant eye to confirm the line (i.e. non-dominant eye closest to the hole), he will miss-aim the putt. Even on very short putts of 2-6 feet, using the non-dominant eye to line up the putt, will lead to this error. You are "seeing" the hole a few inches from where it actually is.

Consider target practice with a rifle. Very few would aim with both eyes open, instead they use their dominant eye. The same applies to putting, as the margin of error is so small.

Approximately 2% of all golfers play left-handed. I asked an opthamologist (who is also an avid golfer) what would be the incidence of right eye dominant people in the golfing population. At first he said 50%, but then said that right eye dominance may be linked to left handedness
(which is prevalent in about 15% of the population). In other words, there are a lot of golfers putting from the wrong side.

Jack Nicklaus is the most famous right eye dominant golfer putting from the wrong side. To compensate he takes an extremely open stance so that he can see the hole with his dominant eye.

What about Johnny Miller, Bernard Langer, Tom Watson, Tom Kite and anyone else having putting problems. Maybe they should try putting left-handed. The yips may just be a case of seeing the hole with the non-dominant eye in a location 1" to 2" from where it actually is. Hitting your putt to that place misses 100% of the time and the resulting frustration may be the real cause of the yips.

Lastly, I heard Peter Kessler ask Tiger Woods during a Golf Channel interview shortly after the 2000 Masters if he was right eye dominant. I thought Tiger said "yes," which means that Tiger could be putting even better!!! I've already sent Tiger this tip by email.

Yours truly,

Stephen Cheng


P. S. Stephen Cheng is a 17 handicap who plays 50 times per year. He is a member of the Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club, in Vancouver, British Columbia, site of the 1966 Canadian Open. Five years ago he "cured" his yips by switching to putting left-handed. He is right eye dominant.

 
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Mitch S
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24.203.246.218

Eye dominance

April 25 2004, 11:16 AM 

I am a natural lefthander but golf my whole life right handed. I am also right eye dominant. I know for a fact that this has caused alignment issues when putting as well as for the fullswing.

I have seen video of my full swing and I can see that my head doesnt flow/rotate to the right going back because in doing so my right eye seems to lose sight of the ball and so my head stays cocked back towards the target which I am sure affects my play.

I am wondering how I should adjust setup etc. to accomodate my eye domiance in putting and full swing

Also do the golf-spec glasses help at all to ensure proper visual alignment?

 
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John
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206.103.20.254

Sideness v. Eye Dominance

March 22 2005, 11:41 AM 

I read your email with great interest but have a variation on the question. I am left handed and left eye dominant, but like many others I play golf right handed. I write, eat, throw etc. left handed, but I bat, play tennis, lacrosse, bowl etc. right handed.

I completely agree with your assessment that a left handed, left eye dominant golfer (like Nicklaus) prefers to stand open when putting with his left eye behind the ball.

However, I wonder if my right arm is too weak to allow me to put right handed successfully. I have putted right handed all my life never with much success (probably avg. around 35 per round). Recently,I tried a drill where you putt with your right hand only and I realize the my right arm is currently not strong enough to putt through the ball (it breaks down at impact). I can do the drill quite easily with my left hand. I suppose with practice my right arm will develop.

Should I change to a left handed putter? Please let me have your thoughts.

Thanks,
John

 
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lancepayette
(Login lancepayette)
162.42.238.33

Totally disagree

February 18 2003, 11:46 AM 

With all due respect, my actual experience is that your theory is completely backwards. I am a right-handed single-digit handicapper who is EXTREMELY left-eye dominant. I developed an outrageous case of the yips at age 28 that has continued (if I attempt to putt right-handed) for 25 years. More than 20 years ago, I switched to left-handed putting, instantly saw the line better, and haven't yipped once. I participated in part of the Mayo study and was told by one of the researchers that they always encourage left-handed putting in players who are left-eye dominant. I have confirmed the same thing with other players. Obviously, there are variations from case to case, but I believe that your theory is fundamentally backwards.

 
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FB
(Login TheTac)
62.11.3.71

righ handed, left eye dominant

June 1 2003, 2:05 PM 

I'm a right handed player who is left eye dominant.
Some month ago, before starting visiting this GREAT site, i suffered a lot with aiming short putts.
I was putting right handed (I didn't know anything about "putting science" so that was the most natural way) and soon discovered that every time i was aiming on the right of the target, also with irons and driver
(on a 3 mts putt i was aiming 15 cm to the right!!!).
Now I putt much better using a "not-pure" lefthanded stroke (not pure because i use also my right hand) but it seems to me that I have istinctively corrected my aiming. It's a flaw that sometime come back but now I'm able to control it and stick with it (almost everytime), especially aligning the straight line on the ball to the target.
What do you think about it?

 
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Geoff Mangum
(no login)
24.167.140.53

"Aiming" is a Series of Aiming Acts

March 23 2005, 7:27 AM 

The term "aiming" involves not one but a series of related physical behaviors. Once the routine of the putt gets going, these acts are:

1. picking a target to aim at or seeing the path and start line, standing behind the ball and aiming the body straight on the line from ball to chosen target,

2. walking into the ball and aiming the putter face so that the face aims straight thru the ball at the chosen target,

3. stepping beside the aimed putter face and coming to the handle of the putter and aiming the body for a straight stroke (usually means squaring up the setup to the putt, but more specifically means aiming your body so that your stroke rolls the ball straight the way the putter face is aimed, as opposed to aiming the putter face one direction and making a "cut" stroke with a different path and face orientation at impact),

4. and finally aiming the stroke motion itself so that the putter face meets the ball moving straight down the line with the face square to the line and the sweet spot of the putter moving straight thru the center of the ball.

The tricky part for cross-dominant golfers (e.g., left-eye dominant but right handed) seems to be aiming the putter face (3 above). Picking a target and sighting the line from ball to target from behind the ball is not the problem -- the problem pops up when the cross-dominant golfer walks up to the ball and starts trying to aim the putter face. (If the problem persists into the cross-dominant golfer's aiming the body in the setup or in making a stroke that rolls the ball straight where the putter face aims, then that is best remedied by insisting that the golfer aim the putter face more accurately and then build the setup and stroke based on the putter face as aimed.)

The usual FLAWED procedure is for the golfer to sight the line of the intended putt from ball to target from behind the ball, and then walk up to the ball (often circling out to the side approaching the ball) and start the whole aiming process over again from the new position beside the ball. The BETTER procedure is to keep seeing the line sighted from behind the whole time the golfer walks into the putt, so that the perceptions generated behind the ball are used and not wasted when aiming the putter face. The BEST proceudre is to build accurate perceptions of the planned line from behind the ball and to ANCHOR these perceptions onto the ball and the ground before starting to walk away from the sighting position behind the ball, to keep the sighted line thru the ball to the target while walking up to the ball along the same line, and to use the perceptual anchors on the ball and the ground to guide the aiming of the putter face accurately thru the ball based on these behind-the-ball perceptions, and NOT to try to find the line from ball to target again from beside the ball. Only after the putter face has been aimed based on the perceptions built up from behind the ball does the golfer then use another physical procedure for checking to assess where in fact he has aimed the putter face. There is no attempt to aim the putter face from beside the ball based on hunting for perceptions of the line from ball to target from beside the ball.

When the cross-dominante golfer stands beside the ball and uses his eye nearest the hole and target to hunt for the line anew, his head and neck are not turning on an axis that is square to the real line, but the head and neck are used on an axis that is directed up and back across the real line, with the head-neck axis aslant the line that needs to be used rather than square to this line. When this is the case, the golfer's body gets a sense that the target is off to the outside of where it really is, since the base of the neck and the shoulders during this hunting are aligned to the outside. This flawed phsyical procedure for hunting the line from beside the ball results in misses to the outside and eventually causes compensations in the setup and stroke to get the putts rolling more inside ("pullish" or cut stroke path with insufficiently open putter face thru impact) to the real target than to the misperceived target. A patch-over cure is to get the cross-dominant golfer to hunt for the line from beside the ball with a slightly open body stance, using a body-sense of a stroke that will push the putt down the real line. The real cure is to forget hunting for the line from beisde the ball and aim the putter face using the anchors gained from behind the ball, and only after the face is aimed correctly, setup to the putter face as aimed and check the aim of the face to determine where in fact it is aimed using a beside-the-ball physical procedure without flaws. If the putter face has been aimed correctly, this beside-the-ball check will confirm it, so you are aimed true AND setup square for a no-compensations stroke that rolls the ball the same way the putter face is aimed and you know where the target is located simply by looking down at the putter face.

You will recall that Nick Faldo and Fanny Sunneson had a routine in which both hunted the line to a chosen target from behind the ball and then Nick walked in and aimed the putter face and had Fanny check his face aim from behind the ball. This is effectively the same as relying on the behind-the-ball sighting of the line when aiming the putter face, as performed by a single golfer without the assistance of a caddie.

But golfers in general don't do this without serious training. Instead, they sight the line from behind, wander off into a cow pasture off the line as they walk up to the ball in a big curve, lose or drop most of the behind-the-ball perceptions of the line while walking, and start hunting anew for the line relationship between the ball and target to use when aiming the putter face "at" the target. This is where using the dominant eye nearest the target causes the misperceptions and inconsistencies, and results in "seeing" the target to the outside of its true location. If the cross-dominant golfer maintains a slightly open body as he approaches the ball and hunts anew for the line, cross-dminant golfers "feel" a lot better about their aim and also "feel" a lot better about how their body sets up to the line.

It takes quite an effort in training to get cross-dominant golfers to STOP hunting for the line as they walk into the ball and to use the behind-the-ball perceptions to aim the putter face and then setup square to the putter face as aimed before checking the aim of the putter face. In the meantime, these golfers need to use a slightly open body orientation while aiming the putter face "at" the target and even when setting up and making the stroke. If the shoulders are also setup slightly open, the stroke has to be a bit of a "push" stroke down the line, as Jack Nicklaus does. If the feet and hips are slightly open but the shoulders are nonetheless aligned square parallel to the aim of the putter face, then a straight stroke parallels the shoulder alignment and is neither a push nor a pull.

From behind the ball, it doesn't matter a fig whether a golfer is left-eye or right-eye dominant or whether he is cross-dominant or left handed or right handed. Every golfer ought to use whatever eye is dominant to sight the line from ball to target while standing behind the ball.

The anchors on this line (spots of colored grass that lie on the line in front of or behind the ball itself nearby, or the writing on the ball showing what dimple on the back equator lies on the line, or how the shadow of the the ball on the surface makes a specific angle to the line, etc.) don't care whether the golfer has a left-eye dominance or a right-eye dominance or is cross-dominant. Making a straight stroke out of the adopted setup doesn't change depending on eye-dominance or cross-dominance, either. And in fact CHECKING the aim of the putter face from beside the ball with an accurate physical procedure doesn't change based on eye-dominance. The ONLY problem is in hunting for the line from ball to target from beside the ball for purposes of aiming the putter face, using an unreliable physical procedure that results in sensing the target location to the outside of where it really is.

In the approach of aiming the putter face based on perceptual anchors percieved from behind the ball and then checking to determine where the putter face has been aimed, the physical procedure for reliably checking depends upon squaring the skull to the putter face as aimed. This gets the line across both eyes matching the line of the putter face aim. Then a rotation of the head plus a straight gaze carries the line of sight in a straight line across the green, and this line is the SAME line the putter face is actually aimed along. The golfer just turns the head and neck on the squared-up axis and waits to "see" what shows up at the end of his line of sight once the turn progresses as far along as the target. EITHER the dominant eye or the non-dominant eye works well for this final "seeing" at the end of the head turn, as the spot where the putter face actually aims will end up occupying the aim spot in the field of vision of whichever eye the golfer chooses to rely upon. Normally, this will be the dominant eye, but the physical procedure for checking the aim of the putter face doesn't really depend upon which eye is used.

Here is a drawing of the skull line that encompasses both pupils when the gaze is straight out of the face:



The black line ought to match the aim of the putter face when setup beside the ball. This will orient the axis of the neck the same as the top edge of the putter head from heel to toe, and render the head-meck turn with a straight gaze an accurate physical procedure for directing the line of sight straight along the ground in the same line the putter face is aimed. sing one eye or the other, the actual spot on the ground at the end of the head turn where the putter face is aimed is whatever spot on the ground appears in the "aim spot" of the left or right eye (whichever the golfer is then using to sight straight out of the face with). Here is the "aim spot"'s location in the visual field of the right eye:



The "aim spot" is always about 1 inch in from the bridge of the nose along the skull line, for either eye.

The end result is that the description in your report of what you are doing is not really definite enough as to the separate acts of aiming for me to tell exactly hat you are now doing that is working better for you, but I would pretty much bet the farm that you are hunting for the line while walking into the ball or while standing beside the ball with a slightly open body stance, OR that you are misperceiving the target as to the outside of where it really is but are using a compensating setup (more open, with lead foot back from the line farther than the rear foot) and/or stroke that sends the ball more inside to compensate for the flawed aim.

I would encourage you to aim the putter face based on anchors right at the ball, then setup square to the putter as aimed, and then use a reliable physical procedure to check the spot where the putter face is aimed. Then you end up in a square setup with a true aim and should have a no-compensations stroke that always rolls the ball straight out of the setup where the putter face points at address. This may take some transition, and may never really take with you. In the meantime, open up to the target a little when aiming the putter face. Thereafter, either make the stroke while still open with a bit of a push away down the line, or square the shoulders to the putter face once it is aimed and stroke straight.

Cheers!

Geoff Mangum
Putting Theorist and Instructor
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This message has been edited by aceputt from IP address 24.167.140.53 on Mar 23, 2005 8:05 AM


 
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tom
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here i am

March 23 2005, 9:02 PM 

>I would like to see a right-handed golfer putting right-handed but who is left-eye dominant. I don't think this person would need to stand open or to bring the eye to bear on the target from left to right. The golfer should feel perfectly fine sighting the target in the normal manner of looking from ball to target, right to left. I'll keep an eye out for such a case, now that you've raised the issue.<

geoff you may not remember me but i came over from asheville in the summer of 2003 for a day of lessons. we didn't discuss it at the time, but i'm right handed and left eye dominant. i putt right handed. the only problem i've ever encountered with my cross dominance is in trying to shoot a shotgun right handed.

after reading the above i'm tempted to experiment with a more open putting stance. overall i've been very pleased with my improved putting but occasionally miss more inside of 5 feet than i believe that i should.

 
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