If you want to hit it better from tee to green and improve your golf swing you need to check your eyes. I’m not talking about setting up an optometrist appointment either.
Instead, you need to think about where to focus when hitting a golf ball. Do you focus on the entire ball? Or, a part of the golf ball?
By changing up your eye focus you can instantly improve off the tee, straighten out a slice, and improve from the bunkers. Today, we’ll review how so you can start shooting lower scores fast.
Where to Focus When Hitting Golf Ball
Did you know that a golf ball diameter is 1.68 inches?
By changing where you focus on the ball can impact your low point and improve your contact (or make it worse). In golf, it’s often the smallest adjustments that can make a huge difference in performance.
If you’re struggling with ball striking or need help on certain shots (like greenside bunker shots) it might not always be a technique issue. A lot of times it has to do with your bottom point in the swing which can be affected by your eyes.
- Where you focus on the golf ball will change based on the shot you’re hitting.
- When you focus on different parts of the golf ball it makes it easier to hit certain types of shots.
- It’s the little things in golf (like eye position, shoulder alignment, etc.) that have a huge impact on ball striking.
Keep reading to learn more about where to focus for different types of shots to improve your performance.
Your eyes can directly impact your ability to hit the ball consistently well.
Yet, it’s something that almost no one talks about! Instead, whenever something is off in terms of ball striking we always look to grip, takeaway, posture, tempo, transition, or something else.
But think about it, golf is a game of inches. If your divot is slightly behind the golf ball, you’ll hit it fat and likely end up short of the green and maybe in a bunker. If you don’t have any divot you will probably thin it over the green.
Both situations are less than ideal and can make for a long day on the golf course.
But if you’re hitting behind the ball, sometimes changing your eye position to focus on the front part of the ball (toward the target) can help. Focusing on the front of the golf ball encourages you to compress the ball and make a solid strike.
If you’re hitting thin iron shots, you might want to try the opposite and focus on the back of the golf ball. This will move your bottom point slightly back so you make a solid divot. A little fix can help your iron play tremendously.
You might be thinking, but what about driver?
Think about it, you do not hit your driver like you do irons.
To hit a driver you want to hit up on the golf ball to improve launch angle – not make a descending blow. If you make a descending blow, you will usually get too steep and hit the dreaded pop-up shot.
By changing your eye position to the back of the ball it’s easier to swing up and make better contact. This should lead to longer, straighter drives with a better swing plane as well.
Hooks and Slices (Where to Focus)
Altering your eye position can also help fix a slice or hook too. Let’s take a look at a golfer who hits a slice – aka the most common shot in golf.
When you slice the ball you’re typically coming in steeper and over the top at impact. This leads to a left divot pattern (or left start path with driver) with left to right spin. You’re essentially cutting across the golf ball thanks to an out to in swing path.
But to hit it straighter (or even hit a draw) you need to shallow out and come from the inside on your downswing. This makes it easier to start the ball at the target (or right of it) and swing out more for a better path.
Changing your eye position can help.
If you want to straighten out your slice, focus more on the inside right part of the ball (closest to your back right foot if you’re a right-hand golfer). This will help you swing more from the inside and shallow the golf club.
The opposite is true if you’re hitting a hook. In this instance you want to focus more on the top right side of the ball (for right-hand players) to cut more across it as a closed clubface is leading to a hook. Because if you’re hitting a nasty hook you’re likely coming too far on an in to out path.
Finally, for a straight shot make sure to focus on the back center of the golf ball.
Where to Focus on Fairway Bunkers
If you’re like most golfers you probably hate hitting out of fairway bunkers. I don’t blame you either – you can never practice the shot, there’s a lip to avoid, and overall just an uncomfortable shot. But changing your eye position can help a ton as I’m saying this from personal experience.
Despite being a scratch golfer, I knew that fairway bunkers weren’t a strength of my game. I tended to hit a lot of fat shots and realized it was because of my eye focus.
Think about it, you don’t want to hit behind the ball at all in fairway bunkers. You want to hit the ball, then graze the sand with irons. You don’t want to scoop the ball!
Change your eyes to the front of the golf ball so you’re more likely to hit the back of it and avoid making contact with the sand. Don’t forget to check out our article “How to hit out of fairway bunkers” as well.
Where to Focus on a Bunker Shot
The exact opposite is true when hitting out of greenside bunkers.
With these types of shots (which a lot of golfers hate as well) you don’t actually hit the golf ball at all. Instead, you hit the sand (1-2 inches behind the ball) and let it carry the ball out and hopefully on to the green.
But if your eyes are in the wrong spot, you’re much more likely to hit it thin and not get enough sand. Once again, I say this from personal experience as I felt like my technique was great but still hit a lot of thin bunker shots. When I changed my focus, everything improved from the beach.
With bunkers you don’t want to look at the golf ball at all (as you aren’t hitting it). Instead, look 1-2 inches behind it as that is where the club will enter the sand.
The closer you hit to the ball, the more it will check up with spin but if you hit it too close, you’ll likely thin it over the green. If you want to hit more of a “chunk and run” focus about 2-3 inches behind the ball. This will help you take more sand so the ball won’t spin and instead release more toward the hole.
Don’t forget to check out our other greenside bunker tips here.
Where to Focus on Putting
The final part of the game to think about is your putting. Like the full swing and short game, you also want to make sure your eyes focus on the right part of the ball.
Putting is similar to driving as you do not want a descending blow. Instead, you want to hit slightly up on the ball to impart spin – otherwise you might chop down on it like many golfers. This usually leads to the ball hopping as it comes off the face.
While superior golfers with a straighter stroke create topspin. Test it out on the practice green to see how it helps your putting.
To further illustrate everything we’ve already discussed, here is a great video from golf coach Clay Ballard to illustrate the impact of where you focus and how it can impact your strike.
FAQs About Focus Point in Golf
Do you have more questions about eye position in golf? If so, keep reading to learn some of the most frequently asked questions and answers below.
Where do pros focus their eyes during the golf swing?
Each pro is different – there is no one way to do it. Some golfers benefit more from focusing on the entire golf ball like 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus. While others like Annika Sorrenstam focused on the impact part of the golf ball as discussed in this article.
Ultimately, you won’t know what works best for you until you try this out on the driving range. Some golfers will instantly see improvements by focusing on the impact zone while others will benefit from the entire ball.
While Tiger Woods likes to keep his eyes focused on the Bridgestone logo of his golf ball. Like all things in golf, test out what works best for you in practice to perform better on the golf course.
Where do you focus your eyes with a driver?
Where you focus your eyes can lead to a better strike. For drivers, you want to hit up on the ball and should focus on the back part of the golf ball.
If you’re suffering from a slice, you want to focus on the inside right part of the back of the ball to make a more shallow downswing. If you’re suffering from a hook shot, focus on the top right part to come into the impact zone with an out to in swing.
This YouTube video is also a great demonstration on how eye focus can improve your drives.
Should your head move during the swing?
One of the biggest mistakes that most amateur golfers make is thinking their head should remain stationary throughout the swing. This can actually restrict movement and not get a full shoulder turn.
It’s okay for your head to move on the backswing. While it shouldn’t move much laterally, it’s okay to move slightly up and down (Paula Creamer is a good example of this).
While Justin Thomas also demonstrates that it’s okay to move your head slightly. It doesn’t move laterally his head does twist slightly as he moves back toward the target. This allows him to make a full turn and then rotate properly on the downswing.
How do you focus on a target in golf?
One of the most important things in golf is picking a target in your pre-shot routine. This way you can visualize a clear target and shot shape in your mind as you take your practice swings. When you’re over the ball, all you want to think about is your target (not swing thoughts).
The easiest way to focus and ensure your alignment is correct is to pick an intermediate target. This is something small (an old tee, divot, discolored grass) that is 1–2 feet ahead of your ball. When you walk up to the golf ball, aim the face of the club at that target, then build your stance to the long range target.
It’s nearly impossible to aim your face correctly at a target that is hundreds of yards away. That’s why you need an intermediate target! Otherwise, 1–2 degrees offline (especially with a driver) can lead to some big misses.
I’ve actually struggled with this at times as I don’t have the best vision and can hardly see out of my right eye. It wasn’t until I learned where to focus and how it changes depending on what shot you’re hitting that I noticed a big difference in performance.
Don’t forget that golf is all about the little things to see big improvements. The small tweak to your driver, adjusting your lie angle, a consistent pre-shot routine, etc.
Poor shot execution isn’t always from incorrect technique.
Where you focus on the ball makes a big difference in club strikes with every golf shot you hit. It can change your swing arc and swing path for both long and short game shots.
To hit the golf ball cleanly and improve your golf game, make sure to focus on different parts:
- For normal shots (when hitting irons), focus on the back of the ball or inches ahead if you struggle with fat shots.
- For straight shots focus your eyes on the back center part of the ball.
- In bunkers, don’t focus on the ball at all and instead pick a spot in the sand 1–2 inches behind the ball to change your low point.
Try this out in your next practice session and on the putting green to see how it impacts your game.