Golf Psychology Tips: 3 Tips to Putt Better Under Pressure
Do you enjoy the challenge of trying to hole short putts when it counts?
Are you the type of person who loves standing over short putts and thrives off them.
You just love the challenge they bring, especially when they’re more meaningful putts, down the stretch or when you’ve got a good score going.
A lot of golfers don’t see it this way!!
- Many golfers stand over a must make 5 footer, with their mind in overdrive.
- Many golfers concentrate too much attention on the outcome, “holing the putt” and the pro’s of holing the putt or the costs of missing it.
- Many golfers get into “judgement mode”, judging their skill level based on recent past putts, wheying up the difficulty of the putt, and the likelihood of them holing it.
- Many golfers try to focus their attention so hard that they are willing the putt in.
- And lots of golfers approach these pressurised 5 foot putts, wanting to get them over and done with as quickly as possible. Often making a quick, jerky, stab-like stroke at the ball.
What is a better approach?
1. Simplify the Task in Hand in a Non-Judgemental Way
Try to take emotion out of the situation. What do you see in front of you? A small round ball with a diameter of not less than 42.7mm, with many dimples on, a logo and a mark to identify your ball. The ball may be new and shiny or scuffed to pieces! Between you and the hole which measures 10.8cm wide in diameter and a minimum of 10.16cm in depth are thousands of blades of grass. Approach it with the mindset of it’s a 5 foot putt. The same 5 foot putt that you come across on the practice green. Or on the 1st or the 9th hole. It’s a 5 foot putt, end of!
2. Consider what your job is?
When asked this question, most of my clients and golfers in general will answer very quickly – it is to hole the putt of course, with a strange look as if I’m stupid! But I’m going to beg to differ and here’s why.
Let’s consider the best golfers in the world who play on the PGA tour. The tour average percentage of putts made from 5 feet is 81.14% as I write this post. So roughly 1 from 5 putts on tour is missed. Yet I bet 99% of these players in practice can make over a 100 5 footers in a row. It doesn’t stack up does it!
Why do they miss 1 from 5 then? If all you think about and focus on is the HOLE you are in trouble. If all you say to yourself is “I MUST hole this putt”, the hole also becomes a lot smaller. Tension creeps into your grip without you knowing it. A quiet mind become a busy mind, so pre-occupied by the OUTCOME, of holing the damn putt! And lastly, and so importantly your tempo get’s faster.
So my advice is for you to change the meaning of what your job is – try this approach for a bit. You job should be to simply try to put a smooth stroke on the putt. And this can be for a 2 footer, a 5 footer or a 30 footer. This approach can help normalise the situation and release the pressure valve that you put on yourself.
One thing that stands out from this excerpt to me is that athletes have choices available to them and they have a feeling of being in control without trying to control their movements, which is in stark contrast to the athlete who performs with anxiety and in fear.
3. Imagine what you want to happen.
Golf is the ultimate mental game, it’s a game where you can have over 3 hour’s worth of thinking time and less than hour actually executing shots. In comparison, footballer, rugby or tennis you’re generally reacting to what is going on around you and the game situation. In these sports, you’ve simply got to trust your practice and training and allow your subconscious mind to take over.
How can I learn from other sports?
To give yourself the best opportunity to hole more putts, especially under pressure consider adopting a trust mindset. Where you simply look at what you intend to do and then react. In your pre-shot routine try to imagine a vivid image of the line the ball will take and see the ball falling into the hole, and then take one last look at the ball before taking the putter back. This can be a very helpful way to divert your attention away from your hands or from your putting technique which can cause you to look at the ball for too long and cause freezing and tension. It also means that you don’t get into the trap many golfers get into in trying to consciously control their putting stroke.
I sincerely hope that you have found this article useful and that some of the tips help you enjoy the great game of golf more and perform closer to your maximum on the greens when you’re under pressure.
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Online Golf Psychologist who supports golfers with their mental game all around the world from New York to Manchester, Dubai to Cape Town, Perth to Christchurch, using ONLINE Video Conferencing.
Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence, Host of Demystifying Mental Toughness Podcast and Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub. With over a decades’ experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, faster.
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