Friday, December 23, 2011

Solving the Visual Puzzles of Golf

When working with my clients I find our longest discussions are about the visual aspect of the game. It shouldn’t be a surprise. Vision is the most influential of all the senses when we play golf. Where are we and where do we intend to go are constant and critical questions. Where to align the body to swing the club? What direction does the club appear to be pointed as viewed from the side? What is our perception of the target’s location when viewed from a side on position? Getting an accurate picture to use when making these decisions can be difficult.

The problem is we trust what our eyes tell us, even if the “picture” they create is not accurate. This inaccuracy occurs much more often than we realize. Since visual and perceptual inaccuracies have an influence on the basic fundamentals of our golf shots, it has to be difficult to set ourselves correctly if we don’t see the direction accurately.

While we all see things in the same manner our perception of what we see is different for everyone. Much of this is caused by the concept of a dominant eye and its position relative to the image. Since there isn’t much agreement about how a dominant eye influences us as golfers we are left to our own devices to find our own “best way” to find an accurate view of the target. The classic method to evaluate the idea of a dominant eye is to make a circle with your index finger and your thumb. Holding the circle at arms length put an image in the circle. Now close one eye. Does the image stay in the circle or move? If it stays the open eye is your dominant eye. If it moves, the closed eye is the dominant one. Now do the test again closing the opposite eye first and see if the results are the same.

In any golf situation it helps to create an imaginary line at the ball, but many of my students have trouble with this concept. What I have found is that it is easier to create reference points either from behind the ball ending at the ball or in front of the ball going toward the target. In an interview with my online clients I found there seems to be a correlation between the dominant eye and which side of the ball they look to create this imaginary target line. The following is a test I have had some success with. Get a 12 inch ruler and a golf ball. Set the ruler on the ground pointed to a target across the room and put the ball at one end of the ruler. Now with a golf club set the club behind the ball and set up to the ball using the ruler as a reference to the target. How does the ruler look in relation to the target? Now put the ball at the opposite end of the ruler and do the test, again setting up to the golf ball. Was there a position that looked like the ruler was aimed more accurately? If there was we suggest that you focus on that side of the ball when try to create an imaginary reference for your set up.

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