Eye the Right Stroke
Published: March, 2012
Southland Golf Magazine
Eye dominance is crucial to the type of putting stroke you use.
Over the past few years there has been much debate on what style of putting stroke is most effective. There are two types of stokes: First is the conventional straight back, straight through style, and the second is called putting on an arc, allowing your putter to swing on a more inside path on the takeaway as well as swinging slightly toward your lead toe on the follow through.
Which stroke is right for you?
Testing my student’s eye dominance is one of the first things I do to determine what stroke to teach them. I have found that the players that are more left-eye dominant are better with the straight back, straight through method à la Nicklaus, Sticker and Woods. Players that are more right-eye dominant seem to be more successful with the arc method in the style of Crenshaw, Leonard and Toms. Both stokes have proven success with all player types and skill levels.
Starting out you may want to lean more towards the conventional approach of straight back and straight through. Learning how to keep the face of the putter square through the strike of the putt is the first thing you should become consistent with before thinking about altering the path of the stroke.
Set-up position is key to your success with this stroke. First, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and the ball just forward of center; this allows the ball to be struck on the upswing of the putt. From a locked position with your knees, unlock them slightly to give you some athletic flex, but not bend. Now the most important thing is to bend from the waist until your gaze is directly on top of the ball. You should be able to turn your head toward the hole and imagine the intended line of travel of your ball.
To test this, stand over the ball and drop a second ball from the bridge of your nose. Most people will find that the dropped ball will land well inside the ball to which you are addressed. Try this until the ball you drop hits the ball on the ground.
Testing eye dominance is easy as well. Doing so will make putting the ball, lining up putts and even reading greens much easier.
Hold up both hands, palms facing outward, and form a triangle connecting the tips of both your thumbs and pointer fingers. Pick an object far off in the distance and focus on it with both eyes open. Close your right eye. Did the object remain in the triangle? Now look through the triangle and close your left eye. The open eye that keeps the object most centered in the triangle will be your dominant eye.
Brian Konrath is Director of Instruction at the Lake Forest Golf and Practice Center.