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Instinct Putting Book Review

Of all the putting tips you have heard over the years, taking your eyes off the ball probably isn’t one of them.

Yet such is the premise of Instinct Putting, a new book promoting the “target vision putting technique,” which recommends that you look at the hole, not the ball, when putting.

So is this a solid new approach to putting or just instructional snake oil? Following is PutterZone.com’s Instinct Putting ($22.50) review.

The Storyline
According to the authors, “Instinct Putting is a book for those who are thoughtfully open-minded, who can envision what could be, not just what is and always has been.”

The book is an outgrowth of a Golf Magazine cover story published in 2005, which tested and touted the concept of looking at the hole while putting. The tests were conducted by Bob Christina and Eric Alpenfels, who along with Cary Heath are the authors of Instinct Putting.

Christina and Alpenfels had read anecdotal reports about an Englishman who conducted tests in the 1970s that were favorable to the concept of looking at the hole while putting. Christina and Alpenfels began teaching this “instinct putting” approach initially as a practice drill at the Pinehurst Golf Academy. In their words, while employing the drill, they “observed students rapidly becoming better orthodox putters, especially in terms of distance control.”

Next came the official tests and, in their determination, the scientific proof that instinct putting is the real deal. Their conclusion is that “pure athletic intuition acts completely unimpeded by conscious thought,” such as when Brett Favre threads the needle on a 50-yard pass in the face of a vicious defense. The authors contend that their method taps into this high-performance mindset by teaching golfers to focus on where to putt the ball instead of how to execute the stroke.

In addition to making the case for taking your eyes off the ball and explaining how to employ the method yourself, Instinct Putting features several related drills as well as short primers on putting fundamentals. It is a small book and a relatively quick read at 138 pages total.

The View from PutterZone.com
The first thing I noticed about Instinct Putting is that it is exceedingly well written. The concepts are clearly articulated and often accompanied by insightful analogies. From the standpoint of readability, Instinct Putting ranks among the top of its class.

I’d heard about folks looking at the hole instead of the ball while putting, but it never really occurred to me to give a try myself, as there was no compelling reason to do so—until now, that is.

So, using the concepts explained in Instinct Putting, I gave it a shot. The results weren’t pretty on the first few strokes, but I was soon amazed at just how well I could putt while looking at the hole. It definitely made me question my preconceptions, as putting while looking at the hole was much easier that I had expected.

Still, looking at the hole is a tough sell. Old habits die hard. It’s still early in the process for me, but I will keep dabbling and see where it takes me.

In other words, my eyes aren’t off the ball yet, but they have definitely been opened to a different way of putting.

The Bottom Line
Instinct Putting is a compelling addition to the world of putting theory and instruction, which still has ample room for new ideas. If your putting game is in a rut and you are looking for a fresh start, Instinct Putting may represent a game-changing solution. And even if you aren’t ready to take your eyes of the ball, the concepts and drills featured in this book can be employed to enhance any approach to putting.

About Sean Weir

Sean Weir is the founder and editor of PutterZone.com, and the author of Putter Perfection, the definitive guide to putter fitting. Profile: Google+


  1. I have putted this way for nearly 30 years – why didn’t I write a book??? It really does work – you just have to trust your hands and eyes to do the right thing. 99% of golfers make instinctive adjustments on every single putt and this just takes it to a logical conclusion.

  2. I have been putting the traditional way for 50 years without mastering it. I changed to Instict Putting two weeks age and have never putted this well before. I am sold.
    Bob Klein

  3. But how does this technique apply to breaking putts in which the real target is a spot somewhere inches to feet outside the hole? Look at the hole or look at the break spot?

    • What your target is may vary depending on you, your stroke, your ability to visualize, eye-hand coordination…in other words, not a one-size-fits all answer. After reading the original GOLF magazine article, I practiced for several months whenever I had time. I took this technique to the course in 2006, and use it exclusively on lag putts of 30+ feet (my problem putt from before). I know that I have made more 30+foot putts, shrunk my miss circle by over 50%, greatly reduced 3-putts, and taught the method to several other golfers. I generally look at the target — even on large breaks, not the high point of the break. I know that my stroke adjusts microscopically for a poor takeaway, smooths out my stroke, relaxes my grip, and increases my confidence. I dropped from a 14+ index to a low of 6.4. and at 68 carry a 9.4 index. Try it!

  4. That book looks excellent and full of useful content for playing the golf better, it's better to see the hole than the ball because you focus on where you will throw the ball.

  5. That book looks excellent and full of useful content for playing the golf better, it's better to see the hole than the ball because you focus on where you will throw the ball.

  6. I’ve been golfing for 30 years now and this entire 2012 season I have struggled with my putting. Last month, I even started developing the “yips” and began missing two footers routinely. Then, a couple weeks back, I heard about this “instinctive putting” tip on our local am sports radio station. I tried it out on the practice green a couple times and it seemed to work pretty well for lag putts … the caveat being that it felt sooooo uncomfortable and sooooo un-natural … I was afraid of miss hits or even striking the ground before the ball. Even so … I kept at it and started using this technique for the longer lag putts (20ft +)during rounds … To my amazement, it seemed to work pretty well!! Then yesterday, I decided to try this technique for ALL putts during the round and I had the putting day of my life!! Only 26 putts for the round and that included some 20-30 footers!!! For the downhill sliders, I focused on a target spot on the green short of the hole and I was even draining those!! My long time playing partners couldn’t believe their eyes … it was absolutely amazing!! I doubt that I will ever go back to the conventional “look at the ball” putting stroke again :}

  7. FWIW, this book is made of unobtanium, i.e. not currently (2016) available. Cheapest price for a used copy was ~70 on Amazon.

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