Beating the Mental Game of Putting – Controlling Your Thoughts

close-up-putter-ballNo matter how good a golfer is at putting it still comes down to making the critical putt when it counts. I am not referring to the low percentage difficult putts but to the easy three foot ones and getting in on two when your thirty feet away. If you are really having a good day and you are down to the last three or four holes where you have a chance of beating your best score, does you’re putting still hold up? If the answer is no, then you are not alone. Controlling our thoughts is something that is definitely easier said then done. However, each week we watch the tour professionals make those critical putts when it counts. The bottom line is that they have been able to train and control their thoughts to what I call beating the mental game of putting. Below is a list of mental techniques that you can implement if this is an area you would like to improve.

Do not focus so much on your score. If right before you take that stroke if your thoughts are so consumed with whether or not you will make par or birdie, you run a good chance of losing your focus, rhyme and feel and eventually miss. Always keep in the back of your mind that it is only a game and the world will not come apart if you miss this putt.

Practice 3 foot putts before a round. Try to plan on getting to the course early enough so you have a least 10-15 minutes of time to practice short three foot putts. By simply making a lot of short putts will reinforce positive thoughts into your subconscious and help you start a round with more self confidence. When later in the round your confronted with a short putt your self conscious well be telling you that this is no big deal, we just made a bunch of these short putts. An excellent warm up drill for this is the three foot circle drill you can find in the list of putting drills on this site.

Visualize your putt. After you just finished analyzing your putt and how your going to hit it then visualize the putt going in the hole right before you take your stroke. Tiger Woods says he always takes a picture of his putts in his mind. Ben Crenshaw says that when he is really putting well he visualizes a caulk line as to where the putt should go.

Controlling your last thoughts. The moment before you take your stroke clear your mind of any negativity. If your mind has any negativity then the best thing to do is step away and clear your thoughts. Ben Hogan said that he would play well when ever he could think of only one thing before taking a stroke but would play excellent when he thought of nothing at all.

Take flashbacks of successful putts. Get rid of negativity by keeping a mental inventory of thoughts of all the great putts you have made in the past. Use this mind control technique even your still on the fairway walking to green. Run those positive past thoughts in your mind and by the time you reach the green you well be in great state of mind feeling very confident.

roy-mcilroyDo not second guess yourself. The moment before you putt do not start to reanalyze your putt. If you start to second guess your decision your rhythm and feel well be off and the result well be either the incorrect distance or target line. Once you have decided how you are going to putt the ball then fully commit to your decision. Your thoughts after you are done analyzing should be positive and confident and begin visualizing in your mind the putt going in.

Keep your head steady and eyes on the ball. Any negativity, second guessing or worrying well often lead to a bad habit of turning your head to soon to see where the ball went. Keep your head down until you have completely finished your follow through stroke. Get in the habit of counting to two before looking up in order to train your thoughts of staying down on the ball. Any small movement with your head and eyes will throw your putt out of line. Gary Player says that keeping your head down is probably the number one most important thing in putting. He would keep his head down simply listen for the sound of the putt going in. If he heard it drop then he knew he made it.

Quit taking “Gimme Putts”. Taking gimme putts over time well simple reinforce a low level of self confidence in your subconscious over time. The message it is sending is that you are simply not consistent enough and you have a high probability of missing. Take all your putts and over time you well be surprised at how well your over putting game and self confidence well improve.

Develop a high level of self confidence. Take some time to practice some putting drills and start a practice routine. Keep at it until you reach the proficiently level you would like to achieve. If you feel your putting game needs work then review the fundamentals and double check that you are implementing them and have not picked up any bad habits.

There are definitely strokes to save from beating the mental side of putting. Again, if you feel you may need help in this area try implementing some of these techniques. The ultimate goal is to have a positive frame of mind and be completely relax when you are putting.


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