How Do You Know Where the Target Is? Blindsight Part 2

How Do You Know Where the Target Is? Blindsight Part 2
by Dr. T. J. Tomasi
Keiser University College of Golf Senior Faculty and Director of Research

TJ Tomasi

In Blindsight Part 1, I wrote of the concept of “Blindsight” (seeing without looking) and my belief that the great players don’t see the same golf course as do average golfers.

For, in addition to normal pathways, the great ones use a subconscious form of “Blindsight” networks to detect aspects of the target scene that others don’t even know they are missing.

I believe it is this form of “Blindsight,” rather than the golf swing per se, that is responsible for the performance differences separating excellence from “almost.”

They All Have It

Inventor Nicola Tesla, who invented radio, alternating current, etc., was able to visualize in his mind complicated devices not yet invented using no paper blueprints! Neurosurgeon Charles Wilson went step-by-step though complicated operations in his mind the night before each procedure.

And, of course, Ben Hogan played every shot in his mind before every round using his power of imagery.

This mental pre-play is a common theme in the story of champions from all walks of life, which demonstrates a power we all have simply described by a statement I have made many times – “Your central nervous system can’t tell the difference between a perfectly imagined experience and a real one.”

Thus, if you know how, you can sit in a chair and “be there, done that” without having to actually “been there and done that.”

This is a particularly important fact for us, since in golf you don’t physically see the target while you swing – which begs the question “how can I possibly hit the target if I can’t see it?”

Enter Im Dong-hyun, a South Korea Olympian who is one of the best archers in the world; yet his eyesight is so poor (he is legally blind) that instead of a clearly framed target, all he sees are blobs of color.

Still, some experts believe his poor eyesight is an advantage, because it protects him from the scourge of archers (and golfers), which is the antithesis of the “Blindsight” phenomenon – target-blindness, or the inability to image the target.

I have seen target-blindness under pressure in many of my players, and as soon as they learn how to overcome it, they take a huge step up on the performance curve.

In Im Dong-hyun’s case, he has the target on his mental screen, so he knows exactly where it is – he owns it because he images it. As Mario Scarzella, president of the Italian Archery Federation says, “An eye problem is not a big problem.

It’s still possible to shoot nicely.

The mental part is more important than vision.”

Just as certain senses shut down under pressure (tunnel vision, pain signals, etc.), golfers under pressure can go target-blind; e.g., after staring at the line of a crucial putt too long, they are still looking, but they can no longer “see it.”

When you stare, it amps up the importance of the situation, and when the amps run too high, an electrical storm wipes the mental screen clean of images – a sort of ganzfeld effect (see Wikipedia), where after a while, your brain cuts off the unchanging signal because it interprets it as neural noise or clutter devoid of info.

This reaction to the target is just the opposite of Im Dong-hyun, who couldn’t physically see the target, but who could image it mentally.

Golfers who are overwhelmed by distress can physically see the target, but image-wise draw a blank.

Look back over your misses, and if you have more than a few “what happened there’s?” your images rather than your mechanics are at fault. And it’s the same with all pressure shots, not just putting.

Good golfers, whether they know it or not, see the target through an after-image – when you look away from the target, if you pay attention, you can still “see it” like a ghost on your internal screen.

What’s happening is that you’re seeing cells, once bathed in the light from the target, continue to send info to your visual center for a few seconds after the light has gone out.

The problem is that on crucial shots most golfers spend too much time at the ball, a mistake that allows the after-image to slip away.

The key is that once you’re over the ball under the auspices of your friend, the ghost, you need to pull the trigger before the target disappears.

The Practical Side of Blindsight

You always select a precise target in your pre-shot routine, whether you’re on the tee box, taking aim at the pin from the fairway, or lining up a putt.

But when you look back at the ball to start your swing, visually the target goes “poof.”

Being unsure where you’re aimed causes stress; stress causes tension; and tension causes you to lose the advantage of “Blindsight,” as stress chemicals flood your neural highways.

The only way to prevent target loss—and the anxiety that comes with it—is to retain the image of the target for as long as you stand at address.

Sounds difficult, right, especially if you tend to freeze over the ball? Well, our research proves that it’s easier than you think.

Here at Keiser University, under the direction of Dr. Eric Wilson, John Callahan, and I have researched a mechanism in the brain that lets a player hold his/her target image long after the eye-shift to the ball.

To measure its efficacy, we showed 15 golfers how to use image retention ability, then asked each of them to roll a total of 30 putts from 30 and 6 feet, typical first- and second-putt distances for most players.

The training helped our subjects roll the ball 23 percent closer to the hole on 30-footers, and increased the odds of holing the 6-foot putt by 15 percent.

In subsequent research, we project the same improvement (or better) on full swings.

‘See’ Your Targets without Looking

Do the following three times a day (10 minutes each) for two weeks. Basically, you’re teaching yourself how to burn into your brain a new neural pathway.

1. Focus on an object for 30 seconds (e.g., a soda can or a photo).
2. Close your eyes. Picture the outline of the object.
3. Open your eyes and study the object again, this time in more detail.
4. Close your eyes, holding the image in your brain for another two seconds, then open your eyes.

Some people see a blank when they close their eyes, while others can retain the image for only a few seconds after opening their eyes.

With practice, it’s common for players to increase their hold on the image by 6 to 10 seconds – plenty of time to pull the trigger.

Here’s how to incorporate “Blindsight” into your shot routine:

1. Address the ball; then, moving only your head, swivel it so that you can see the target.
2. “Snap” a mental picture of the target by blinking your eyes once, as if clicking a camera.


It’s key to simply rotate your head vs. straitening your spine angle – the simplest motion is the best motion.

3. Rotate your head back to the ball, keeping the target image on your mental screen. The image your brain holds won’t be very detailed; it’s more like a rough sketch. But that’s all you need to hit the target.

Article Blindsight

Using the power of blindsight I’m locked onto the target. In a target world to image is to own.

Review part one of this series here.

If you enjoyed this golf tip, here’s how you can get even more. Contact Keiser University College of Golf about the first steps to a career in golf.