Effect of Putting Grip on Eye and Head Movements During the Golf Putting Stroke
The objective of this article is to determine the effect of three different putting grips (conventional, cross-hand, and one-handed) on variations in eye and head movements during the putting stroke. Seven volunteer novice players, ranging in age from 21 to 22 years, participated in the study. During each experimental session, the subject stood on a specially designed platform covered with artificial turf and putted golf balls towards a standard golf hole. The three different types of grips were tested at two distances: 3 and 9 ft. For each condition, 20 putts were attempted. For each putt, data were recorded over a 3-s interval at a sampling rate of 100 Hz. Eye movements were recorded using a helmet-mounted eye movement monitor. Head rotation about an imaginary axis through the top of the head and its center-of-rotation was measured by means of a potentiometer mounted on a fixed frame and coupled to the helmet. Putter-head motion was measured using a linear array of infrared phototransistors embedded in the platform. The standard deviation (STD, relative to the initial level) was calculated for eye and head movements over the duration of the putt (i.e., from the beginning of the backstroke, through the forward stroke, to impact). The averaged STD for the attempted putts was calculated for each subject. Then, the averaged STDs and other data for the seven subjects were statistically compared across the three grip conditions. The STD of eye movements were greater (p < 0.1) for conventional than cross-hand (9 ft) and one-handed (3 and 9 ft) grips. Also, the STD of head movements were greater (p < 0.1; 3 ft) for conventional than cross-hand and one-handed grips. Vestibulo-ocular responses associated with head rotations could be observed in many 9 ft and some 3 ft putts. The duration of the putt was significantly longer (p < 0.05; 3 and 9 ft) for the one-handed than conventional and cross-hand grips. Finally, performance, or percentage putts made, was significantly better (p <0.05; 9 ft) for cross-hand than conventional grip. The smaller variations, both in eye movements during longer putts and head movements during shorter putts, using cross-hand and one-handed grips may explain why some golfers, based on their playing experience, prefer these over the conventional grip. Also, the longer duration for the one-handed grip, which improves tempo, may explain why some senior players prefer the long-shaft (effectively one-handed grip) putter.