You are on the 16th hole and need a birdie to keep pace with your opponent. At 14 feet, your right to left breaking putt will test all of your abilities and some! Not to mention to pressure of “having to make” a critical putt. Now we have a case of the ‘chicken and the egg’; does the mental fear affect your putting stroke or does your putting stroke affect your mental toughness? What a dilemma!
This is a difficult situation for many golfers. It is challenging to break things down if you and zero in on one thing, however over the years, I have honed my response to these situations to a point where I either sink the putt or give it a good attempt.
I focus on three areas when in this situation. They are all intermixed, but focus on my mental strength to be successful:
Confidence in putting mechanics. I have confidence in my putting. I work on my putting stroke regularly to ensure my mechanics remain the same during all situations. Hence, I am confident my contact will be solid and my ball will travel on my intended line more often than not. This confidence in my mechanics greatly reduces the stress of making any putt.
Confidence in reading the putt. Line versus speed is always at the forefront of any putting stroke. I am a stroke believer that line is the critical factor the farther you are from the hole. At 14 feet, line plays a greater role in success than speed. I intentionally aim for the high or pro side of the cup and give it a bit more space because most shots are missed on the low side. When I practice, I work on breaking putts often because rarely do I have a flat putt on the course. Practice what we encounter is very important.
Confidence I will make the putt. I avoid all negative thoughts and ‘the can’ts’. At no time do have allow thoughts of missing the putt enter my mind. As soon as this happens (and it does from time to time) I have lost. It becomes an unavoidable journey to the land of being unsuccessful. Being mentally tough is critical to rising to the occasion and having confidence I will make every putt is at the core of being successful.
As you can see, being successful making the much needed putt is based in my confidence of success. Confidence is very important, but it is not developed overnight (at least it did not for me). I continually work on my game and this helps bolster my confidence in all situations, especially 14 foot putts to keep pace with my opponents!
What is your core trait that helps you be successful when playing golf?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!