Pure Info for Mistake-Free Golf

by Dr. T. J. Tomasi, Keiser University College of Golf Senior Faculty and Director of Research

In the lab of Carlos Brody, scientists figured out how a rat makes mistakes. His team found that making an erroneous decision is caused by errors, or “noise,” in the information coming into the brain rather than errors in processing once the information is inside. The researchers separated sensory inputs into the rat brains from the internal mental process; “To our great surprise, the internal mental process was perfectly noiseless. All of the imperfections came from noise in the sensory processes,” said Dr. Brody.

In one way, the brain is a computer designed to solve problems, and in order to do that, it needs input from the environment. The quality of decisions and responses made depends on the quality of the info coming in, hence the phrase “garbage in, garbage out.” This study shows that a leading contributor to ‘garbage out’ is data input noise – if your input is fuzzy, so is your output.

Noise is any interference in the environment which garbles or obscures the salient information relating to the particular problem that needs to be solved. And, since golf is a series of Point A to Point B problems, and because rat brains are a lot like human brains, the rat-brain research gives us direction in decision making in golf where new info from the playing field changes during the five hours or so you’re on the course.

Here is an example (using putting) of how you can improve decision-making simply by “puring” your data input. Your brain is an expert at tracking objects, and all it needs is accurate information to tell you exactly where the cup is, data that many golfers fail to collect when it comes time to read a putt. Basically, what they’re doing is depriving their brain of its “need to know” info, and you can’t do that if you want to be a good putter. The answer is a putting routine designed to locate the target by gathering enough pure information about the distance and direction necessary to get the ball in the hole.

To accurately peg the position of the cup in relation to your ball, you need to use triangulation, where you look at your putt from three vantage points. When you use just one position to determine the location of an object, you’re likely to encounter parallax – distortion via the position of the observer, so your info is no longer pure. That’s why surveyors use more than one position to measure the exact location of objects — they can’t afford impure info (noise), and neither can you. The three positions match points on the triangle:

  1. From behind the hole on the extension of the break (blue marker 1)
  2. From mid-way to the hole, on the low side (blue marker 2)
  3. From behind the ball on the extension of the break


Takeaway: For your brain to do its thing, remember the rat brain experiment and then construct your routine to gather “pure info.”

Senior investigator Carlos Brody is a Princeton associate professor of molecular biology at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute (PNI) and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Rats and Humans Can Optimally Accumulate Evidence for Decision-Making, Science, 2013, DOI: 10.1126/science.1233912]


If you’d like to study with Dr. Tomasi and other PGA Master Professionals, contact The College of Golf today.

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