Putt The Ball In The Hole

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The strokes you take on the green during your golf game wind up being about 40 percent of your score. Wild, isn’t it? We spend $500 on drivers to gain 10 yards and give it all away in just one or two three-putts and/or missed four-footers. As a corollary, we could use a 1970’s laminated driver with some knock-off, found-in-the-garage irons and score the same as our most technologically advanced pals if we just shaved a few strokes off our putting game.

I know, “Drive for show, putt for dough.” is what the guys that can’t hit the bomb are always saying. I know that the guy that pounds it farthest is “The Man”. OK. I have been playing for over forty years and am on average one the longest hitters in the groups I hang with. That being said, my best rounds (and most Nassau wins) have been when I reign in the big swing and drain some putts.

Over the last twenty-five years my handicap has remained fairly constant in the low teens. That has been in the face of declining frequency of play and plowing through the fifty year-old barrier. How? Putting!

Putting is simply a combination of three key ingredients:

1. Mind

2. Reading

3. Execution

In this article I address the mind. No smoke, no mirrors, just how you approach your putt.

Some years ago, I was reading some self-improvement books and came upon one that was something like “Learn While You Sleep”. I just tried to find it by goggling and couldn’t locate the exact book. That is not important. What is important is not the techniques taught in the book, but the concept that I came away with and have held ever since. The book was about letting your subconscious train your conscience during sleep, but I found that I could convince myself of certain things while fully conscious. This is the old “talk yourself into it” concept.

Years after I read this book and while putting on a practice green, I drained a few 20 footers. I stepped back and realized that before I had made those putts, I expected that they were going to fall. The hole was huge, the ball was a bee-bee and my putter was a target rifle. Without realizing it, I had convinced myself of future success.

If you believe you will make the putt, you will have a great chance of making that putt. If you can’t find that comfort, step back and gain the confidence. If you can’t get it during that round, fine, get on the practice green later and gain it. If I did this with my garage-sale putter, lack of confidence, and intermittent jeering of pals, you easily can do it.

As positive as this article is, I hate to bring in the negative. I do so only to remind you of what you have felt so many times. “I can’t make this putt but I hope to get it close enough so that I have a gimmee.” “It’s down hill with a good bit of break; hope I can two-putt it.”

Horse manure! You own the green! Three-putt? That is what your opponents do. You are a putting machine. Your putts eat the holes up. Now go out there and prove yourself correct.

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