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Use the Force, Jack Nicklaus

We here at LOTME usually strive to provide an insightful and up-to-date wrap-up of the latest news on cutting-edge research, clinical breakthroughs, and impolite bodily functions. But right now, we want to talk about something really important: your golf game.

Golf course putting, golfer jacoblund/Getty Images

There’s an old saying in golf: Drive for show, putt for dough. That cliché may need a bit of updating, though, now that investigators in Ireland (where they are pretty serious about their golf) have brought science to the party.

Their research indicates that it may be possible for golfers to improve their putting without practicing. Without physically practicing, that is. Without going to the golf course. Just think about it: Golfers can putt better by, you know … just thinking about it.

Imagining the feel of an action without actually performing it is known as kinesthetic imagery ability, and it just might have an effect on putting, researchers from the physical education and sports sciences department at the University of Limerick and Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Software, reported in Psychology of Sport and Exercise.

In a group of 44 skilled golfers, half watched video of an expert golfer putting in a lab environment “while listening to a motor imagery script consisting of short sentences describing key visual and kinesthetic feelings associated with performing the putting.” Then all the golfers took 40 putts from 15 feet in the lab.

The good kinesthetic imagers in the bunch improved their putting consistency more than subjects with poorer kinesthetic imagery ability and subjects from the nonintervention group.

So, here’s the new and improved old saying for golfers: Drive for show, use your kinesthetic imagery ability for dough. Yup, that’ll definitely catch on.


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