Many days on the golf course the actual hole does not look like the standard 4.25 inches. There are times when it looks like a ball could not possibly fall in such a tiny space. On other days, it is as big as a garbage can lid and I could not miss it even if I tried. Of course we all want the latter when we play because those are the days we have great scoring rounds. I often wonder why the hole looks small some days and large on others. My conclusion is that it is all mental. There is no other possible explanation or is there?
Through the years, I have played every manner of putting. There is no spectrum that could capture how well or poor my flat stick would work. Additionally, there was no way I could determine if what type of day I was going to have on the greens. It really was a bit of a quandary until I found the light switch that changed it all. Yup, I found my solution that changed my putting game and elevated my overall game to the next level.
This momentous find shifted my approach to golfing and that empowered me to start shooting more rounds in the 70s. Eventually, I would shot most rounds under 80 where today if I do not shoot in the 70s, I will consider my round a failure. Yes, my expectations are that high and it is all because of my putting.
Right about now you are wondering what my euphony was and inquiring minds want to know. Well, here it is. On the faithful day where I changed my putting journey, I decided to focus on my chipping around the green. I decided that I would not worry about my putting, but trust and accept whatever happened with the flat stick. The craziest thing happened, I had the best putting day of the year (this was back in the early 80s). The less I lamented about making every single putt, the larger the hole seemed to grow. By the end of the round, it was as large as a garbage can lid!
After thinking about my success for that day, I realized that I was hurting my ability to putt by focusing so much on not missing, than actually sinking the putt! Additionally, I realized I did not have any pre-putt routine, nor any consistency on how to approach any putt. I decided to pursue this shortcoming and see if I was on to something.
Being the days before the internet, I approached my mentor Bobby Fortune. He was a great player and I relied on is guidance for many years. I explained my challenge He smiled his sage smile and he provided me with a road map to become a better putter. Today, I still use the processes I developed back then consider myself a better than average putter.
My process was pretty straight forward:
- Develop a pre-putt routine. Find one that works for me and it should not be any more than 10 to 20 seconds.
- Decide on a comfortable putting grip.
- Find a spot 1 foot and 3 feet on my intended line and focus on hitting those points.
- Created a smooth drawback and forward putting motion.
- Hit the ball past the hole.
You are probably saying that this is nothing new. All four steps are common sense and you might be right. However, I would suggest that to an up and coming player, I needed some way of building the mental confidence to be a good putter and this process was my starting point.
Creating a process to develop a consistent putting stroke was definitely a boon, however what this process did was create a paradigm shift in my mental approach to putting. I quickly developed trust and confidence in my short game where I was thinking I would sink the putt vice trying not to miss. My mental approach was altered for ever and I am a better player for it.
Over the years, I refined this process, but the core steps remain present. However, the greatest gains over the years was mental. I am not at the point where I expect to sink every putt regardless of the distance. I rarely (although it does happen) feel frustrated by missing because I know that I have made the best putt I could at that moment. So, after a long diatribe, the reason the holes looks like a garbage can lid on most days is my mental strength, confidence and trust relating to all things putting.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!