Archived Newsletters - MENTAL PUTTING SKILLS FOR LOWERING YOUR GOLF SCORES :
Newsletter April 2013
Springtime for golfers means the PGA Tour was at Arnie's course, Bay Hill, in Orlando last week and will be at The Masters in Augusta, Ga. next week, April 11-14th.
For Tiger it meant his return to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time since October 2010. He has won three times this season and won the last two consecutive tournaments. He matched Sam Snead's record for most wins at one event, having now won the Bay Hill Invitational eight times.
Woods dominated the par 5's at Bay Hill, playing them at 14 under par. He also led the field in putting, taking an average of 2.8 putts per round.
The better you become as a golfer, the more you will realize the important part that putting plays in scoring. Up to 40-50% of your score might be played out on the greens. Putting is the great equalizer in the game of golf.
Here are eight mental putting keys to help you lower your scores.
1. Ability: Anyone can putt. A two-year-old can putt the ball into the hole. It may be the simplest task in all sport. Golfers make it the most difficult by indecision and by thinking fearful thoughts.
2. Anxiety: When do you develop fear in your putting? As you get closer to the hole? When you miss an easy putt? After you three-putt a couple of times?
Performance anxiety comes from your belief about yourself and the way you view your putting ability. Here are some mental keys to refocus your thinking.
- First, change your thinking to believe that you can roll the ball well enough to give it a chance to go in.
- Second, keep your focus on creating each putt instead of putting pressure on yourself to play for a score.
- Third, don't compare your results with your playing partners/opponents. Stay focused on the things you can control.
- Fourth, give every putt the same importance. Don't label putts as par putts or birdie putts.
- Concentrate on the process of what you need to do to make the putt.
3. Attitude: When do you decide you are putting poorly? When do you decide you are putting well? Have you decided to become a good putter? Or do you constantly talk about how poorly you putt?
- To become a great putter, you must have a good attitude.
- You must have a confident attitude that you believe in no matter what the results are.
- 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.
- Repeat these strong affirmations often to reinforce your positive attitude for putting:
I am a great putter.
I love to putt on every type of green.
I can easily accept an occasional three-putt.
I roll the ball well and give it every chance to go in.
I use the same tempo on every size putt.
I am confident no matter what the results are.
I give every size putt the same amount of time and attention.
I always aim to the high side of the hole.
4. Attentiveness: To become a great putter, you need to practice focusing your attention on the task at hand. As you become more engrossed in the task, you will not be consciously thinking about everything else that is going on around you. Your attention could be diverted by emotions of fear, doubt and worry due to thoughts of missing putts. Constant visualization to remind yourself of past successful putts will reduce these emotions.
The way to focus and be a consistent putter is to use a pre-shot routine to keep your mind from wandering and thinking of extraneous things. 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.
5. Awareness: Trying too hard for results produces tension, tightening and loss of touch or feel. It is important to access your feel by using your senses. Instead of trying to get the ball into the hole, use your inner awareness to see where the hole is, and feel and imagine where the ball goes in relation to the hole. You can practice this by putting with your eyes closed. Another way to develop awareness is to determine without looking up where the ball will end up, right or left, long or short. This requires an awareness of the feel of the swing, and a feel for the length and direction.
6. Art of Putting: 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 the path the ball will travel in your mind and then stroke it 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.
7. Automatic Putting: Practice your stroke until you have a repeatable, reliable stroke. You will know that it is reliable when you can hit the ball solidly with your eyes closed. Then you can trust your stroke under pressure in a match. Trust is the most important element in the putting game. A consistent pre-shot routine will put you in position to focus on the hole, see the line and stroke the ball to the target by feeling the ball move to the hole. Enjoy the sound of the ball bouncing off the bottom of the cup!
8. Acceptance: Accept that you have the imagination and willingness to be a great putter right now. Accept that you can be even better. When you worry about your limitation, you are not even close to accepting your truth that you are a great putter. Tell yourself, "I am a great putter, NOW, in this moment.
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