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Golf: The Science of Spieth’s Putting

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Stan Sutherland
Stan Sutherland

‘Ignoring the ball made me a better putter almost immediately—by 20 percent, according to my friend Tony,’ so writes David Owen in his article, ‘Why Jordan Spieth and I Look at the Hole on Putts’

Putting problems personified
The other day it got so bad on my short putts, I resorted to putting while looking at the hole and not at the ball. However somewhat concerned that my friends and foes may think me a wee bit more daft than usual, I looked for support on my newly adopted method.

The bottom line
The bottom line for finding the bottom of the hole with fewer putts is described by David Owen.
‘I talked with Dr. Bob Christina, a sport psychologist and an assistant golf coach at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. It was Christina who conducted the study I read about, in collaboration with Eric Alpenfels, the director of golf instruction at Pinehurst. (In 2008, they expanded their findings into a general theory, in a book called Instinct Putting.) "The bottom line for me is that looking at the target frees you up to stroke the ball more naturally," Christina said.’

Why not everybody?
David writes, ‘Before stars like Spieth and Louis Oosthuizen became known for it, looking at the hole was associated mainly with yippers—for whom it can be highly effective, because it shifts their focus away from their tormentor, the ball. But they're not the only beneficiaries. Dana Rader, who owns a golf school in Charlotte, has been teaching it for about 30 years, and she told me that she seldom has students who don't improve while doing it. "I don't know why everybody doesn't putt this way," she said.’

The Science of Spieth’s Putting

‘The Science of Spieth’s Putting’ is Adam Young’s take on Jordan Spieth however there’s a larger lesson to be learned which is relevant to all the facets of playing golf.
Adam writes, ‘You are addicted to the internal,’ and then proceeds to quote from reliable academic studies which I’d describe as debating ‘the how to versus where to’ and I do believe that I’m not alone in focusing far too much on how to hit the ball be it with putter or driver. Instead of spending more time on focusing on where I wish the ball to go.

Take a tip from Tiger’s dad

If it’s all too much to even consider putting while looking at the hole, try the following as quoted by Adam Young.
‘No good blog post would be complete without a Tiger Woods anecdote.
During a clinic with Tiger, he explains that is Father taught him to ‘Look at the hole…Say “click” as if he is taking a mental photograph…Strike the putt shortly after, with the image of the photograph in mind’

Links to David Owen and Adam Young

Quote of the Day

“Spieth used to suffer with the short putting yips – as a result he decided to adopt this ‘looking at the hole’ technique, and everything improved. In fact, it is known that one of his strengths is putting ability.” – Adam Young


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