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.
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.