Just as we all have a dominant hand, we have a dominant eye. Often overlooked, this plays an important role in how we perceive the world around us as well as how we play golf. In “Understanding the Critical Role of Alignment in the Golf Swing,” we touched on the connection between eye dominance and alignment. Here, we will dig a little deeper and provide some more context, hit on an interesting fact about elite golfers, and see how finding your dominant eye can help improve your golf game.
Understanding Eye Dominance
Ocular dominance, also known as eye dominance, is the tendency of one eye to transmit visual information more accurately to the brain’s visual cortex than the other. It is not a measure of vision quality but rather the strength of neural connections to the brain. Almost everyone has a dominant eye, and its strength can vary from person to person.
Eye dominance is a fascinating aspect of human perception that extends beyond the golf course. It refers to the preference of one eye over the other when processing visual information. While it may seem like a minor quirk, eye dominance can significantly impact our daily lives. Eye dominance can affect our perception of depth and spatial relationships in everyday situations. It can impact tasks such as driving, threading a needle, or reaching for objects on a shelf. Eye dominance also influences our ability to judge distances accurately and plays a vital role in hand-eye coordination. Examples would be tasks that require precise aim, such as shooting a basketball or throwing a dart.
Furthermore, understanding your dominant eye can be critical in fields such as photography, where framing and composition are essential. Photographers often rely on their dominant eye to determine the best angle for a shot. Even in social interactions, being aware of your eye dominance can help you interpret non-verbal cues more effectively, as it influences the direction in which you naturally focus your gaze. So, whether you’re on the golf course or navigating everyday life, eye dominance quietly shapes how you perceive and interact with the world around you.
Eye Dominance & Elite Players
Studies show that 65% of us are “same eye dominant,” meaning that our dominant eye is the same as our dominant hand, with around 2% having no dominant eye. I just learned I am in the “cross-dominant” group, right-handed and left-eye dominant. I am in really good company, – as a surprising 85% of Tour Players are “cross-dominant.” Legends like Tiger & Jack (who set up with his head tilted and his left eye over the ball) are great examples of this. David Duval is in the 15% “same-eye dominant.” Phil Mickelson is the strangest case, as he is right-handed and left-eye dominant but plays left-handed, making him artificially same-eye dominant!
In the book “Golf for the Other 80%” by Jim Hartnett, the significance of eye dominance in golf is highlighted, which is often overlooked in traditional golf instruction. Hartnett’s insights highlight how identifying one’s dominant eye is a simple yet potent process that can significantly influence swing mechanics. For instance, a player’s eye dominance can determine the extent of their shoulder turn, for one. With this understanding, golfers can make targeted adjustments to their technique, improving accuracy, consistency, and, most importantly, enhanced game enjoyment. Hartnett’s predictions about the prevalence of cross-dominant golfers on Tour were substantiated by surveys, further cementing the role of eye dominance. This research illuminates the profound influence of eye dominance in golf, making it an essential consideration for players and instructors aiming to elevate their game.
Optometrist Richard Hughes took this one step further in his study to understand the pervasiveness of cross-dominance in elite-level golfers. You can get the story in his own words in this LinkedIn post. His thesis is as follows: “Two dominant types were identified: Type I, comprising right-eye dominant right-handed individuals, and Type II, consisting of players with a left tendency in eye-hand or foot coordination. It was established that the dominant eye is responsible for aiming. In contrast, the non-dominant eye contributes to depth perception, highlighting the importance of visual analysis in addressing performance deficits related to aiming and targeting accuracy in sports.”
How Do You Find Your Dominant Eye?
As we mentioned before, your dominant eye isn’t always the one with the best visual acuity. If you have a eyeglass prescription and know which eye is weaker or stronger, it might not necessarily be reflected in the dominance. Follow these steps to test which eye is more dominant:
- Pick something to look at in the distance – ideally five or more meters away. Examples could be a clock or a mark on the wall.
- Hold both of your hands out in front of you. Overlap your fingers and line up your thumbs to create a small triangular gap between your hands.
- Lift your hands and focus on the target looking through the triangular gap in your hands. You should be able to see the object in this gap.
- Take turns closing your eyes while keeping your hands in the same position. With one eye, the object will remain visible through the small gap in your hands. With the other eye closed, the object will seem to have shifted and be hidden from your view.
Results: The eye that is open on its own and allows you to see still the object is your dominant eye. The eye with which it appears that the object has shifted from view is your non-dominant eye. If neither eye being closed produces an image where the object is centered, you might have mixed ocular dominance.
Application for the Recreational Golfer
For recreational golfers, understanding your dominant eye can improve your game. Knowing which eye to focus on while aligning shots and maintaining consistent head position can significantly affect your accuracy and performance.
So, how can you, as a recreational golfer, leverage your dominant eye to elevate your game? Here are some practical tips:
- Eye Alignment: Pay close attention to your dominant eye when setting up your shot. Ensure that your dominant eye is directly behind the ball. This alignment can enhance your accuracy and consistency.
- Head Position: Maintain a consistent head position throughout your swing. Knowing your dominant eye can help you keep your head still and your eye on the target, reducing the likelihood of mishits.
- Practice Drills: Incorporate drills into your practice routine that specifically target your dominant eye’s alignment and focus. Over time, this can lead to improved shot precision.
- Consult a Pro: Consider seeking guidance from a golf instructor who can assess your eye dominance and provide personalized tips for your game.
Eye dominance, also known as ocular dominance, is the tendency for one eye to transmit visual information more accurately to the brain than the other. It’s not a measure of vision quality but rather the strength of neural connections to the brain.
Eye dominance plays a crucial role in your alignment and swing in golf. Knowing which eye is dominant can help you set up your shots more accurately, affecting your overall performance on the course.
Yes, about 85% of Tour Players are cross-dominant, meaning their dominant eye is different from their dominant hand. Golf legends like Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus share this trait.
The article provides a simple test involving a triangular gap created by your hands and a distant object. By closing one eye at a time, you can determine which eye keeps the object in view, thus identifying your dominant eye.
Absolutely. Eye dominance can impact tasks such as driving, threading a needle, or even social interactions. It affects your perception of depth and spatial relationships, making it a broader life skill.
Eye Alignment: Ensure your dominant eye is directly behind the ball when setting up your shot.
Head Position: Maintain a consistent head position throughout your swing.
Practice Drills: Incorporate drills that focus on your dominant eye’s alignment and focus.
The article cites studies and books like “Golf for the Other 80%” by Jim Hartnett, highlighting the often-overlooked significance of eye dominance in golf instruction.
Eye dominance is an overlooked detail that can shape your approach to golf. Whether you share Tiger Woods’s cross-eye dominance or are like Duval, leveraging your dominant eye and adapting your alignment accordingly can be valuable. As for me, I will continue searching for the reason that I was not able to take advantage of the gift of cross-dominance!