The two most important clubs in your golf bag are your driver and your putter. The adage “drive for show, putt for dough” still holds true. Emotions are the most important part of your mental game, and the driver and putter are the most emotionally charged clubs in your bag. You must have confidence in your putting game to score. You cannot be a great putter without confidence. You must really believe you’re going to make the putt, not just hope to make it.
Anyone can putt. A two-year-old can putt the ball into the hole. Putting may be the simplest task in all sport. The putting stroke itself is only one part of the art of putting. Of equal importance is seeing a clear picture of the path to the hole, having a consistent set-up, reading the greens and aiming the clubface correctly.
Putting is a game within a game. It is the part of the game where the ball never leaves the ground. It is artful because it requires that you create in your mind the path the ball will travel. You then stroke the ball along that line with an artful stroke of gentleness or firmness depending on the conditions. It is the stroke where you need to trust your inner intuition and creativeness completely.
To be a great putter, you need to train your eyes to see a mental picture of the hole and the path that the ball will travel to drop in. Look at the hole until you have a mental picture of it, of the space where it is, and the path that the ball will travel to get there. Tiger’s father Earl taught him to “Putt to the picture.” If you don’t see a picture, practice looking back and forth until you can close your eyes and see it. Then you will know where your target is without looking at it. Your own vision is one of the most powerful faculties you have for bringing an invisible activity into visible, physical form.
People are different. Putting strokes are different. Everyone can be a good putter. Golfers make it the most difficult by indecision and thinking fearful thoughts. When do you decide you are putting poorly? When do you decide you are putting well? Have you decided to become a great putter? Or do you constantly talk about how poorly you putt?
Fear thoughts are thoughts about missing. Fear is focusing on the outcome. Focus on the process of giving the ball the best possible chance to go into the hole. Trust that you can do this. Trust is better than training.
Putting is the most crucial part of the golf game. Putting is mental. 40-50% of all shots taken in a golf round are putts. It is the only shot used on every hole. It is the shot you must trust to score well/win the tournament. It makes up for other flaws. If you can master putting you will be the envy of all the other players.
Of all the clubs, the putter gets the least attention. People pick putters because they feel good, look good, or because they putt well with it the first time out. Your putter needs to have the correct length, the correct lie angle and loft, and correct weight to compliment your stroke.
Golfers make unorthodox movements to compensate for the equipment they are using, and the putter is no exception. If you have not been fitted for your putter, this is the first thing you need to do. When you are fitted correctly you will feel very confident knowing that your putter is giving you the best possible aim and alignment.
Performance anxiety comes from your belief about yourself and the way you view your putting ability. Here are seven mental keys to energize confidence in your putting game.
- To become a great putter, you must have a positive attitude that includes being enthusiastic about wanting to putt, having your complete focus on the process of making the putt, having a specific plan, believing in your ability to carry out your plan, and being relaxed enough to putt the ball where you want it to go.
- Change your thinking to believe that you can roll the ball well enough to give it a chance to go in. Putting requires imagination and creativity. It requires that you shut down your mind and feel the putter. You will never have total control over the ball because it rolls over imperfect grass. Accept all conditions or you aren’t giving yourself a chance.
- Keep your focus on the process of creating each putt instead of putting pressure on yourself to play for a score. The way to focus and be a consistent putter is to use a pre-shot routine to keep your mind from wandering and overthinking. Immersing yourself in your routine keeps your mind in the present, focused on the task of rolling the ball into the hole. Using the same routine every time builds a rhythm which carries over into your putting stroke. You can then putt more solidly and confidently.
- Don’t compare your results with your playing partners/opponents. Stay focused on the things you can control. Concentrate on the process of picturing what you need to do to make the putt.
- Give every putt the same importance. Don’t label putts as birdie, par or bogey putts. Have the same attitude for critical putts, easy putts, or unimportant putts in the most crucial situations. Trying too hard for results produces tension, tightening and loss of touch or feel.
- Become an effective lag putter and eliminate as many three-putts as possible. The average PGA Tour player lags putts over 30 feet to within 3 feet 99.4% of the time. When you have a lengthy putt, think distance 95%, line 5%, and lag it within the comfortable 3-foot diameter around the hole.
- Stop thinking about missed putts. Remember and replay in your mind on and off the course the ones you made. Jack Nicklaus, one of the greatest putters of the game, forgot all his missed putts, and would not answer reporters who asked him about them. In his mind, he made every one of his putts. This belief will do wonders for your confidence. Putting is made difficult when the average golfer’s thoughts and feelings are comprised of negative suggestions from the outside world. When you let go of the idea that missing a putt has serious consequences, you will be enjoying a fun game that will end up with positive results.
Play “in the zone” with Joan
Entrain Your Heart & Mind for Peak Performances
To train your brain to believe in yourself and your abilities to play your best golf, you can listen to Positive Mental Imagery self-empowering guided imagery self-hypnosis CDs in the privacy of your own home. All eight different CDs are also available now as MP3s. www.pmi4.com/cart
If you aren’t able to maintain trust and belief in yourself on the golf course, email Joan at firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation about developing a new mindset. Learn what is missing in your golf game so you can achieve the success you desire.
“THE HEART OF GOLF, Access Your Supreme Intelligence for Peak Performances” explores and explains negative emotions such as fear and performance anxiety, the four Cs of mind blockage, the four progressive stages of learning the supreme intelligence of the heart, and the way to access the zone in competition. It is a player’s guide for developing your true inner self by returning to the joy and love of self instead of seeking praise and rewards from the outside world.
“THE HEART OF GOLF“ guidebook for transforming your life and your golf game is available on Amazon and Kindle at http://amzn.to/2MQzjfq All royalties will be donated to Junior Golf!