Six Mental Steps to Great Putting

"Great Putting in Six Easy Steps"

Dr. Bob Winters

Hurricane Golf Tour  - Article #1

This is the first article in a six-part series created for the golfers of the Hurricane Tour by Dr. Bob Winters.  In this first article, I discuss the primary mental component that golfers must make in order to become consistently good putters when they are on the green.   The Basic Question:  Are you a Good Putter? Here is a fact that you may already know:  Great putters make putts.  I am sure that you are unimpressed with that statement but none the less, it is still true.  Great putters make short putts, long putts, uphill and downhill putts, and putts that curve through double-breaks.  They make putts for club championships and friendly money wagers, and through it all, make it look easy in the process!  Quite simply, great putters make putts on all types of greens and grasses and some even do it on lousy greens and inferior course conditions!  The question I am most often asked is: What is the secret to great putting?  Where does it originate, is it in the stroke, or is it in the mental attitude of the putter? For instance, when I first start working with a golfer, I always ask the basic question: “Are you a good putter?”  The answers that I have received over the years may astound you!   Many of them give me a socially acceptable response and say that they are relatively streaky but that they would like to be more consistent.  Almost everyone that I work with is trying to become a better putter.  To this day in time, I have yet to meet a golfer who has responded to my initial question with this answer:  

Well yes, Dr. Bob, I am a good putter.  In fact, I am so good on the green that I may have a problem because I am making too many putts.  I really need to slow down!  Making all of these putts has become a problem!”

I can honestly say that I haven't met anyone with this type of response because everyone either feels that they are not making enough putts or that they want to make more putts! As a sport psychologist and putting researcher, I can say with certainty that great putters think differently about putting from poor putters, and this difference is in their attitude and mental philosophy about the task of putting! Technical skill versus Emotional skill As a mental coach to some of the games' great young stars, I happen to believe that the physical task of putting is relatively easy. Almost anyone who can learn to hold a putter squarely and refine their mechanics by sheer practice can become a fairly good putter and start to make putts. In terms of technical proficiency, the putting motion is a simple motion by moving your hands, arms, and shoulders back and forth and striking the ball on the center of the putterface. It seems easy enough. But in terms of actual human response, perhaps the most overlooked and difficult part of putting is the psychological devastation that comes with missing and watching the negative picture of the golf ball sliding by the hole. In no other arena of sport do you have the frequency of outcome feedback so honest and objective as you do on the putting green. In essence, you either make the putt, or you miss. Experience enough misses and the negative pictures start to deteriorate your confidence and affect your putting stroke. No wonder putting has been the Achilles' heel in so many great players' careers! I have provided a list of the six psychological qualities that separate the great putters from the poor putters.  These six psychological characteristics are all common to great putters and great putting.  I believe that if you can emulate what the great putters do as successful role models, you will find that your putting will improve as well!

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The six mental characteristics of great putters are: 1. Great putters keep putting simple 3. Great putters trust2. Great putters enjoy the task of putting 4. Great putters know that it’s OK to miss! 5. Great putters have patience 6. Great putters have confidence   Now, let’s discuss the first of these mental and emotional characteristics and see how your putting can benefit from implementing them into your golf game!   Mental Key # 1 : Keep it Simple! The first mental characteristic is that great putters keep putting simple.  Great putters don’t get lost in dealing with their mechanics, even if their mechanics are poor on a certain day, because they realize that the most important thing at the present moment is to get the ball into the hole as swiftly and efficiently as possible!  Great putters use their minds to keep the task of putting simple, clear and specific.  Their basic mental focus is: “Where do I want the ball to go and how hard do I hit the ball to get it there?”  From a psychological viewpoint, I think this is where the idea of keeping it simple becomes crucial. For example of simplicity at its finest, consider multiple major champion Phil Mickelson.  When Phil won the Scottish and British Opens this past summer in back to back weeks, one of his basic reminders was to visualize the final few feet of where he wanted the ball to go.  He simply got his eyes into where he wanted the ball to finish and at the pace that he thought it needed to go in.  By simply adhering to this simple concept, he made a number of crucial putts and finished the final round of the British Open with a blistering hot putter!  By not filling his mind with the importance of each putt or cluttering it by trying to make the perfect stroke, Phil utilized his inner putting genius and rolled the ball on his line into the hole again and again and made it look easy!  You can do the same. Remember; keep your putting process simple. The best putters in the world have always reminded themselves that putting is not difficult and to get their eyes into the putting line and hit the putt solidly.  By doing this, you are giving yourself the best chance to make putts!   A Final Word Great putters know that keeping their putting confidence is vital and they do everything they can to develop, sustain, and enhance their belief system.  You must do the same and start to keep your putting simple versus trying something new on every green.  I think it is critical that you think about your putting process as being more about attitude and conviction that it is about pure stroke mechanics.  So, start to create an attitude that provides you with a foundation for seeing how great a putter you can be.  If you do, I am certain that you will be finding your ball at the bottom of the cup more often!   My next article in this series deals with the task of finding something enjoyable about attempting every putt….even when you are not holing them! If you like this article and feel that you could benefit from working with me one on one, please contact me at 407-340-7785 or email me at drbob@drbobwinters.com or visit my website at www.drbobwinters.com.  I look forward to helping you get into the winner’s circle and maximize your talent!    I will see you on the fairways!  

Dr. Bob Winters

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