No Thinking, Please, We're Experienced Golfers

The neuroscientists tackle the Scottish sport:

Sian Beilock, a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, has shown that novice putters hit better shots when they consciously reflect on their actions. The more time they spend thinking about the put, the more likely they are to hit the ball in the hole. For these beginning golfers, putting is like a puzzle. It's important for them to think about the put so they can avoid making obvious mistakes.

However, experience changes everything. After golfers have learned how to put - they have memorized the necessary movements - spending more time analyzing the put is a waste of time. Their unconscious brain already knows what to do. It automatically computes the necessary variables, and settles on the best putting angle. In fact, Beilock found that when experienced golfers think about their puts they actually hit worse shots. "We bring expert golfers into our lab, and we tell them to pay attention to a particular part of their swing, and they just screw up," Beilock says. "When you are at a high level, your skills become somewhat automated. You don't need to pay attention to every step in what you're doing."

I guess Tiger had his thinking cap on yesterday.