Being relaxed when putting is a crucial part of putting well on long, medium, and short putts.
I putted very well in my last few rounds – including on the weekend in a match-play competition (and so did my opponent).
My opponent and I made 8 birdies between us – and many long par putts.
What was I working on?
Obviously I was carrying out the 4’R’s (Read, Routine, React, Review), but I was paying special attention to NOT over-reading putts, being relaxed, taking one last look at the hole, the eyes come back to the ball, then using a free following stroke.
When it is time to putt, a free stroke and being relaxed is what is important in those few seconds.
Once you have gone through your routine (which you should know), you must be free, relax and let the stroke happen. Being more focused or directing the stroke – is not being free.
[If you find that you still look up early and your mind and head is not quiet enough, use a Mental Anchor – as outlined in The Truth About Putting Training Course.]
Making putts is a delicate marriage between focus – which can tend towards stress and missed short-putts in the extreme, to a lack of focus which results in you not actually reading the break and the speed deeply enough.
The third focus error occurs when golfers focus on the wrong things, like consciously directing the stroke, or releasing or not releasing the hands when putting.
Poor mental programming would include the common self talk of “get the ball to the hole” – a dreadful non specific focus which could send the ball 1 foot, 10 feet, or 100 feet past the hole. Putting the ball on the right line at the right speed is a much better message to give yourself.
Follow the 4’R’s but don’t over do any of them. Generally, more focus and effort is needed on the longer putts. On long putts you have more land to scan – greater feel is required. The shorter the putt, the freer you want to become (after a decisive read).
To relax, try a mantra right before you putt. On and off, I have used the following:
- “be peaceful”
- “let go”
- “be free”
- “no consequences” (excellent attitude to take on short-putts, you will be rewarded if you putt courageously)
Or, smile, it’s hard to be tense when you’re smiling.
Remember, the 4’R’s is a linear process, you go from: read to routine to react to review. Spending too much time on any is delaying and short-circuiting the process. And of course, not spending enough time on each part is not correct. There are times to focus and times to be free – as I have outlined in this article.
This yin and yang is at the core of any good golf and putting I have ever been involved in. There are quite a few examples in The Truth About Putting about how I took fewer looks at the hole, or made sure I “gave in” when it was time to putt. And on the flip side, I have given examples in my writings of when not “doing my homework” (enough reading) resulted in a 3-putt (we have all done that.)
Take a tip or two from this article into your next game. Work on your reading, going through your routine, and reacting naturally by swinging your arms back and through to get the ball on its way.
If you have not yet enrolled in The Truth About Putting and you would like to take your game and putting to the next level, you can enroll here.