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How your “dominant eye” affects your golf swing, and the proper adjustments



Most golfers know their “dominant eye” heavily influences putting alignment, but did you know the dominant eye affects the long game, too? More specifically, it has a major impact on your backswing. Think of Jack Nicklaus and his pre-swing head turn that accounted for his dominant eye.

Since then, however, few other players have made it a priority to make the similar adjustments. Not factoring in your dominant eye can cause poor backswing movements, particularly with the torso, and will cause problems later on during the transition.

First of all, let’s figure out which of your eyes is dominant. For that, we consult Travis Weza from Combine Golf. Follow the instructions below.

“Begin with your arms out, wrists bent at 90 degrees upward and allow your palms to face away from you (like you are telling someone to “stop” moving). Bring your hands together so that your fingers overlap and form a triangular peephole with your thumbs and index fingers. Focus on a small object across the room. While viewing the object through the peephole, first close your left eye. If you still don’t see the object, switch eyes. The eye that sights the target is your dominant eye.”

Now that we’ve established which is your dominant eye, the next step is to understand how it influences your setup and backswing so you can make the proper adjustments.

Left-Eye Dominance

People who are “Left Eye Dominant” (the ones who sighted the object above using their left eye) must rotate their heads at address towards their rear shoulder and/or bend laterally to the right (for right-handed players) to allow the body to adjust for this dominance. Jack Nicklaus did this perfectly, as you can see again and again in the swing-video montage below — watch how he tilts his head just before he begins the backswing.

If you see the ball in this manner at address, then you’ll eliminate the need to rotate your head during the backswing. Let’s say you set up with a centered head but with a left-dominant eye (as Jack had). What would happen? As you rotated to the top, your head would also want to rotate rightward in order to keep the ball in focus. If you did not allow this to happen, you would greatly restrict your backswing, or you might even lift your head up and lose your spine angle instead.

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 3.28.13 PM

Jack Grout — Nicklaus’ longtime teacher — understood this and helped Jack to see the ball in a slightly different manner. He simply rotated his head to the right at address to make sure the ball was in the focus of his left eye. This way, his head was already using his dominant eye and was ready to accept the full rotation of the shoulders to the top.

Now, I understand that some players prefer not to do this; if you do not like this feeling of turning your head at address, then you can tilt the spine laterally to the right at address. This will place your head behind the ball and your left eye will be closer to the ball in this setup position. These types of setups will prevent the head from laterally moving to the right during the swing, which causes the backswing to move off plane to the top.

Right-Eye Dominance

Now let’s check out Aaron Baddeley’s swing from a few years ago.

For a player like Aaron Baddeley, who is right-eye dominant, you can see how his head and spine are in a much different position compared to Jack Nicklaus. It is not an incorrect position, but one that just accommodates a different eye-dominance.

A player seeing the ball with their right eye, as in the example above, will require a much more centered spine at address and a head position that is more centered looking down at the top of the ball, not so much the back of the ball. This type of right eye control will give you a slightly more upright swing if you are not careful. These types of players usually require a bigger plane angle shift from the top, or stronger leg action during the transition to hit the ball from right-to-left. Basically, this position requires a touch more flexibility to achieve the rounded swing, so they will tend to play from a more upright position; it’s simply easier on the body.

I would suggest that most right-eye dominant players play the ball primarily from left-to-right, as this tends to match what their set-up position forces them to do. But it’s not a requirement.

If you are right-eye dominant and you set up with too much spinal bending behind the ball, then you will see a noticeable cocking of the head to the right to compensate for this faulty spinal bend at address. We have all seen this player — it looks like his head is tilted with their chin towards the target slightly so they can “see” the ball better. If you want to center your head and make everything work more effectively, then I would make sure your spine is over the top of the ball and things will work much better overall in the backswing.

Hopefully by now you have at least a basic understanding of how your dominant eye affects your backswing. There is NO perfect amount of tilt, rotation, or centering to accommodate for your dominant eye, however, so please take your time and experiment to find your best position. Just make sure your dominant eye and your address position match and you will be off to the races!

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction at Combine Performance in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 60 people in the world.

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  1. cost candle love

    Aug 1, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    This post is in fact a good one it helps nnew thhe web users, who are
    wishing in favor of blogging.

  2. ooffu

    Jul 18, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    nope you are a total typo

  3. ooffa

    Jul 17, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Actually your comments on eye dominance were enlightening. Keep up the good work. You are a benefit to the WRX forum.

  4. All of Europe

    Jul 16, 2017 at 8:01 am

    You’re wrong about the eye dominance being a thing when one eye is closed and the other open observ…
    When u look down at your nose you can see more of one side of it. That’s your dominant eye.

  5. Someone

    Jul 15, 2017 at 11:49 pm

    You’re all focusing on the wrong thing. Binocular vision is primarily depth perception. It doesn’t play a role in aiming. The dominant eye plays a role in aiming. The two combined enable you to hit a target while moving, i.e. Hitting a golf ball while you are turning. Soccer players do tilt their head when they are just about to kick the ball. Baseball players do the same, and any other active sport. So if you were right eye dominant, you could close your left eye to aim at the ball, then open both eyes to help with actually hitting the ball with the club head.

    It’s never just one thing, it’s a combination of both.

    You can’t hit a golf ball well (distance and power control) with ocular vision alone, and you can’t aim well with just binocular vision either (i.e. If you look at a target with both eyes and then start turning your head all the way to the right and then all the way to the left, you will notice that when you reach your peripheral limits, you will notice you may start seeing double. With one eye, it doesn’t happen because your mind tells you to stop at the peripheral limitation of the single eye.)

    Again, it’s the combination of both depth perception and dominant eye aim that help you track the ball during your swing and hit it well. So yes, knowing your dominant eye can contribute to help you hit the ball well, because you can adjust your setup to give you a better chance at hitting the ball well. It’s like a right handed rifleman that holds their weapon up on their left side but aims with their right eye and wonders why they cant hit targets consistently and has a hard time operating their rifle. You tell them that being right-eye dominant, they should setup up with rifle to the right side and it’ll be easier to aim at your target and track it.

  6. Paul

    Jul 15, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    Tom, I have certainly noticed that how I rotate my head has made a big difference. If I rotate my head slightly towards my rearward should i hook more and if i rotate slightly towards my forwards shoulder I slice more. It seems to shift my plane a bit. To bad a centered head didn’t make me hit it straight.

  7. ooffa

    Jul 15, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    You have never posted a valid comment. Only negative incoherent drivel.

    • ooffa

      Jul 16, 2017 at 2:29 pm

      Please control your negativity. There is no need for that on this forum.

  8. Bruce Rearick

    Jul 15, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    Tom, I would question the ball flight relationship to dominate eye. We know Jack played left to right as a left eye dominant player and I can names hundreds of right eye who play a hook.

  9. Philip

    Jul 15, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Great article – thanks! I’ll be re-reading it a few times. I have already started to realize this recently as far as how my right-eye dominance and swing interact – the easiest shot for me to do (especially with woods) is a fade. I can do a high draw, but if I am not careful on my setup it often turns to more of a hook.

    • Philip

      Jul 15, 2017 at 6:25 pm

      Maybe it has nothing to do with eye dominance, however, golfers indeed have a large issue with trying to do something side-on, which our binocular vision and brain cannot decode. As far as eye dominance – I know that it is not static and varies day-by-day, as well as, during the day and changes based on the amount of light. That all being said, when we look side-on, eye dominance plays a large role for our alignment , as well as whether we are comfortable at address – since we are not using our binocular vision, but a twisted version of it.

      • ooffa

        Jul 16, 2017 at 3:07 pm

        Nah, I don’t buy it.

      • Philip

        Jul 16, 2017 at 6:13 pm

        Did you even read what I wrote … there is definitely an issue when we “humans” try to make a side-on golf swing looking down the line … who is talking about seeking out lessons … and guess what – my dominant eye does affect my alignment, causing me to go left with both of my eyes being used … so what do you think is causing this issue that I see most golfers struggling with?

  10. Matt

    Jul 14, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    Great article Tom, I’d completely forgotten about this aspect of Nicklaus’ swing. Taught myself using ‘golf my way’ years ago followed by a few pro lessons. Luckily I figured out not to copy Nicklaus’ flying elbow!

  11. JD

    Jul 14, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    Nope. You target with a dominant eye. Even with both eyes open. Ask anyone who’s left eye dominant and right hand dominant trying to shoot a gun. It sucks.

  12. ooffa

    Jul 14, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    Your information is wrong. The article is correct. Please get yourself new doctors.

    • sonofooffa

      Jul 15, 2017 at 12:10 am

      the article if FOSh, like you

      • ooffa

        Jul 15, 2017 at 6:44 am

        My Son, When did the doctors release you? They told me you would one day be able to rejoin society. I welcome you back with open arms. Please make every effort not to relapse. You don’t want to have to go through the program again.

        • ooffa

          Jul 15, 2017 at 6:31 pm

          LOL, I will stop when your negativity abates. Until then I will continue to expose your arrogance.

  13. Justin

    Jul 14, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    I am a left eye dominant, left handed. So similar to what you touch on with Baddeley, I completely agree. I always find myself lining up more to hit a cut and a fade and I swing my best when I am standing taller and my weight is more centered. I have a lot of trouble drawing the ball especially with my driver. When I do try and try and draw the ball I have the tendency to hit snap hooks cause it just feels very “Un-natural” for me.

    • Justin

      Jul 14, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      *Should read “when I tray and the ball”

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A Jedi Mind Trick For Improved Target Awareness



I think all golfers, at some point in their life playing the game of golf, has gotten stuck, or become frozen over the golf ball. Why?  They’re trying to remember which of the 23 different swing thoughts they used for the day performed the best.

The disheartening reality: none of us are going to perform well on a consistent basis with our thoughts being so internally driven. Swing thoughts force our awareness inward. Is the shaft in the correct position? Am I making a proper pressure shift? Was that a reverse pivot? Close that club face! Regardless of the technique you are trying to manage or modify, these kinds of questions make you acquire sensations internally.

To complicate things further, we are taught to look at the golf ball, not the target, while hitting our golf shot. And yet instinctively, in almost all other skills of making a ball or object finish towards a target (throwing a ball or frisbee, kicking a soccer ball, skipping a rock across water, shooting a basket ball) our awareness is not on the ball or the motion itself, but rather the ultimate target.

So, can we develop a skill that allows us to still keep our eye on the ball, like the game of golf encourages, but have awareness of our target, like so many other target sports demand?  Yes, the answer is (third rate Yoda Speak), and the skill can easily be yours.

Here’s where this gets fun. You already have learned this skill set, but under different conditions. Perhaps this example resonates with you. Did you ever play hide-and-seek as a child? Remember how you used to close your eyes and count to 10? During those 10 seconds of having your eyes closed, weren’t you using all of your senses externally, trying to track where your friends were going to hide? Weren’t you, just like a bloodhound, able to go directly to a few of the less skillful hiders’ hiding places and locate them?

Or how about this example. When you are driving down your own local multilane highway, aren’t you aware of all the cars around you while keeping your eyes firmly on the road in front of you? Reconnecting, recognizing and/or developing these skills that all of us already use is the first step in knowing you’re not too far away from doing this with your golf game.

Here’s what I want you to do. Grab a putter and place your golf ball 3 feet away from the hole on a straight putt. Aim your putter, and then look at the hole. As you bring your eyes back to the golf ball, maintain part of your awareness back at the hole. Each successive time your eyes leave your golf ball and head back to the hole, your eyes will be able to confirm your target. It hasn’t moved; it’s still in the same location; your confidence builds.

When you know for certain that your external awareness of the target is locked in while still looking at your golf ball, step up and execute your putt.

The wonderful beauty of this skill set is that you now have the best of both worlds. You are still looking at the golf ball, which gives you a better chance of striking the golf ball solidly… AND you are now target aware just like you are when you are throwing an object at a target.

As always, acquire this skill set from a close target with a slower, smaller motion. If you don’t execute properly, you have a better chance of making the proper corrective assessment from a slower, smaller motion and closer target. As you become more proficient with this skill, allow the target to get farther away and try to add more speed with a larger range of motion.

So give learning this skill set a go. I don’t think there is anything more valuable in playing the game of golf than keeping your “athlete” attached to the target. Become proficient at developing this awareness and you can tell all your friends that the primary reason your scores are getting lower and you’re getting deeper into their wallets is because of Jedi Mind tricks. Good luck!

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6 things to consider before aiming at the flagstick



One of the most impactful improvements you can make for your game is to hit more greens; you’ll have more birdie opportunities and will avoid bogeys more often. In fact, hitting more greens is the key to golfing success, in my opinion… more so than anything else.

However, there is a misconception among players when it comes to hitting approach shots. When people think “greens,” they tend to only think about the flagstick, when the pin may be the last thing you should be looking at. Obviously, we’d like to stick it on every shot, but shooting at the pin at the wrong time can cost you more pain than gain.

So I’d like to give you a few rules for hitting greens and aiming at the flagstick.

1) Avoid Sucker Pins

I want you to think about Hole No. 12 at Augusta and when the pin is on the far right side of the green… you know, the Sunday pin. Where do the pros try and aim? The center of the green! That’s because the right pin is by all means a sucker pin. If they miss the shot just a touch, they’re in the water, in the bunker, or left with an impossible up-and-down.

Sucker pins are the ones at the extreme sides of the green complex, and especially the ones that go against your normal shot pattern.

So go back to No. 12 with a far right pin, and say your natural shot shape is right-to-left. Would you really aim out over the water and move it towards the pin? That would be a terrible idea! It’s a center of the green shot all day, even for those who work it left-to-right. Learn to recognize sucker pins, and you won’t short side yourself ever again.

2) Are You a Good Bunker Player?

A “sucker pin,” or just a difficult hole location, is often tucked behind a bunker. Therefore, you should ask yourself, “am I a good bunker player?” Because if you are not, then you should never aim at a pin stuck behind one. If I wanted to shoot at pins all day, I’d make sure I was the best lob wedge player around. If you are not a short-game wizard, then you will have a serious problem attacking pins all round.

For those who lack confidence in their short game, or simply are not skilled on all the shots, it’s a good idea to hit to the fat part of the green most of the time. You must find ways to work around your weaknesses, and hitting “away” from the pin isn’t a bad thing, it’s a smart thing for your game.

3) Hitting the Correct Shelf

I want you to imagine a pin placed on top of a shelf. What things would you consider in order to attack this type of pin? You should answer: shot trajectory, type of golf ball, your landing angle with the club you’re hitting, the green conditions, and the consequences of your miss. This is where people really struggle as they forget to take into account these factors.

If you don’t consider what you can and cannot do with the shot at hand, you will miss greens, especially when aiming at a pin on a shelf. Sometimes, you will simply have to aim at the wrong level of the green in order to not bring the big number into play. Remember, if you aim for a top shelf and miss, you will leave yourself with an even more difficult pitch shot back onto that same shelf you just missed.

4) Know your Carry Distances

In my opinion, there is no excuse these days to not know your carry distances down to the last yard. Back when I was growing up, I had to go to a flat hole and chart these distances as best I could by the ball marks on the green. Now, I just spend an hour on Trackman.

My question to you is if you don’t know how far you carry the ball, how could you possibly shoot at a pin with any type of confidence? If you cannot determine what specific number you carry the ball, and how the ball will react on the green, then you should hit the ball in the center of the green. However, if the conditions are soft and you know your yardages, then the green becomes a dart board. My advice: spend some time this off-season getting to know your distances, and you’ll have more “green lights” come Spring.

5) When do you have the Green Light?

Do you really know when it’s OK to aim at the pin? Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help:

  • How are you hitting the ball that day?
  • How is your yardage control?
  • What is the slope of the green doing to help or hinder your ball on the green?
  • Do you have a backstop behind the pin?

It’s thoughts such as these that will help you to determine if you should hit at the pin or not. Remember, hitting at the pin (for amateurs) does not happen too often per nine holes of golf. You must leave your ego in the car and make the best decisions based on what information you have at that time. Simple mistakes on your approach shot can easily lead to bogeys and doubles.

6) When is Any Part of the Green Considered a Success?

There are some times when you have a terrible angle, or you’re in the rough/a fairway bunker. These are times when you must accept “anywhere on the green.”

Left in these situations, some players immediatly think to try and pull off the “miracle” shot, and wonder why they compound mistakes during a round. Learn to recognize if you should be happy with anywhere on the green, or the best place to miss the ball for the easiest up and down.

Think of Ben Hogan at Augusta on No. 11; he said that if you see him on that green in regulation then you know he missed the shot. He decided that short right was better than even trying to hit the green… sometimes you must do this too. But for now analyze your situation and make the best choice possible. When in doubt, eliminate the big numbers!

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Is There An Ideal Backswing?



In this video, I talk about the backswing and look into optimal positions. I also discuss the positives and negatives of different backswing positions.

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19th Hole