Every week, I hear horror stories from students about how they missed putts between 1-3 feet. I have missed more than my fair share of those over the years, and I also must disclose that because I missed so many, I dedicated myself to figure out why and what my problem was. Here are some of the results of my studies, experiences, and the strategies I now use and teach to make them without all the stress.
FEAR – Many are afraid of missing because of the embarrassment and/or the consequences of missing, so one must eliminate that thought. How? You have, at a minimum, a 50-50 shot. The ball goes in or doesn’t, so stop worrying about missing, and start believing it’s going in. Use positive thoughts of where you want the ball to go, not the negative ones of where you don’t want it to go.
ROUTINE – A good pre-shot routine for putting will stack the odds in your favor as you do the same thing each putt, so you put yourself in the position to stroke the ball the same way each time with the same mental thought process. Yes, there are many things you can do to improve your set-up to make a better stroke, but that’s another lesson.
TEMPO – Many good putters do not change the strength of the putt but change the length of the stroke to change speed or distance. They take the putter back and through with the same distance and pace, so it is a 1:1 ratio. Try to say to yourself as you putt, “One and two.” (One takes the putter back. And, the putter pauses or stops and changes direction. Two strikes the ball). Find yourself a good count, mantra, rhythm, or cadence that you can follow each and every time, and focus on that, not on worrying about the consequences.
STRATEGY – To make more 1-3 footers:
- Ask yourself, “Am I going uphill or downhill, and is there any break to the left or to the right?” Most short putts have very little break, but knowing which side of the cup to favor due to break can help. For most 1-3 footers, it’s best not to give the hole away. For uphill putts, aim past the cup or the back edge of the cup, and when going downhill, aim in front of the cup or at its front edge.
- Ask yourself, “Do I want to hit a slow, medium, or fast putt?”
- Soft or Slow Putt will just fall into the cup and will have the most break.
- Medium Speed Putts, if missed, will end up the “ideal distance” past the hole at 17-inches and may have some break.
- Hard or Fast Putts (more than 17 inches) past the hole will have very little break due to the speed, but may lip out more.
Once you decide on your strategy, see yourself making it, not fearing it. Go through your routine, concentrate on your tempo of the stroke, and then make a stroke. Don’t wait, just do it. Even practice making your stroke with your eyes closed to start trusting it.
Now go make those short putts with confidence and see your scores improve.
As Always…Fairways & Greens.