Armchair golfers stand to improve their games

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Armchair golf can produce measurable improvements to a player's game, psychologists have claimed.

The British Psychological Society conference in Blackpool was told how sports psychologists recruited 40 golfers to test whether Jack Nicklaus's technique of imagining where he wanted a shot to go actually worked. The golfers, with an average handicap of 3.5 and close to professional level, were split into four groups for forms of "virtual reality practice''.

One group imagined putting successfully as they watched a video of themselves, one listened to a tape of themselves hitting a ball and it landing in the hole, one imagined themselves on the course while reading about their experience of putting, and the fourth read a biography of Jack Nicklaus.

After training, golfers in the video group improved putting by 57 per cent, those in the audio group improved by 47 per cent, and the third group by 30 per cent. The control group who read the biography improved by 18 per cent.