How to Be a Better Putter: Improve Your Mental Toughness
Putting is arguably one of the most important skills in your golf game to develop if you want to be successful and score low. You can practice, practice, practice all that you want on your putting skills but if you don’t have the mental side figured out, you’re going to miss putts.
What can you do about this problem? Develop stronger mental toughness as a golfer and specifically as a putter.
Try out these 10 tips I’ve got for you today and see your scoring around the greens improve as you develop these tips into habits.
1. Have a Passion for Putting!
Putting is one of the most enjoyable areas of the game. Putting greats like Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth love putting and live for the moment of sinking clutch putts to win tournaments. Putting is a hard earned skill that you should love and cherish once you’ve improved your skills. To get better though, you have to be passionate, love putting, and love practicing putting.
2. Get in Sync With the Pace of the Greens Before Playing
I used to work on my putting skills all the time at my home golf course. Sure, I built a solid fundamental putting stroke but I also got in sync with the pace of the greens. When I’d go out on the course I could putt really well as a result.
My lag putts would snuggle tight to the hole leaving me a tap in and rarely having to mark it for my second putt. But when I would go to other golf courses during matches or tournaments, the pace of the greens were different and I’d struggle putting some days.
The lesson here is to be a good putter you must learn and adapt quickly to the pace of the greens before your round of golf. Make sure to spend time stroking lag putts with your eyes open and closed to get a true feel for the greens.
3. Track Your Success
The best way to improve as a putter mentally is to see that you’ve been improving analytically. In other words, if you’ve seen that you used to make 50/100 from 6 feet from the hole and now you’re making 80/100, then clearly you’ve improved and will feel this new confidence from 6 feet.
Ask yourself the following questions and then test yourself to find out the answers:
- How many putts per round do I average?
- How many putts per green in regulation do I average? (Am I converting birdie attempts?)
- How many putts can I make out of 100 from different distances: 3 feet, 4 feet, 5 feet, 6 feet
- How many lag putts can I get within a few feet of the hole from different distances: 30 feet, 40 feet, 50 feet, 60 feet, etc.
Grab my golf skills assessment challenge and see how good your golf skills are in different areas of the game: Driving, Iron Play, Chipping, Putting, etc.
4. Have a Consistent Set-Up and Light Grip Pressure
Are your eyes in relation to the ball and the line the same every time? Is your alignment and ball position consistent? How tight are you gripping the putter grip?
These are questions to ask yourself and test out on the practice green to establish a consistent set up and muscle memory into your subconscious.
Studies have shown that professional golfers have optimal feel for the putter when they let the gravity and design of the putter do the majority of the work during the stroke. On the other hand, amateur golfers often grip the putter extremely tight thinking they can control the putter better this way.
Next time you are at the course, be conscious of how tight or lightly you are gripping your putter and feel the head swing during the stroke.
5. Visualize the Putt and Its Path to the Cup
The best putters are creative and visual. They read greens and then visualize their putt rolling to the hole and the path it takes. They simulate the putt in the mind watching it roll, how fast it’s going, and where it enters the cup.
The next time you are on the putting green. Take a moment to visualize the putt breaking into the cup and at what speed after doing your pre-shot routine and walking the green to get a feel for it.
How often do you stand over a putt and feel your heart rate increasing or pressure in your chest?
Putting can bring a lot of pressure especially short putts because you pre-determine in your mind that missing the short putt will cause embarrassment in front of your playing partners as well as waste a stroke you shouldn’t have added to your score.
To release the tension and slow your heart rate, make sure to practice deep breathing techniques prior to putting. You want to be as calm and fluid as possible when putting and not tense and stiff from nervousness.
7. Follow a Pre Shot Routine
Do you have a consistent pre-putt routine that helps you get as confidence and prepared as possible so you make a positive and fluid stroke?
Having a pre shot routine gets your mind ready for the putt and builds in the confidence needed to stroke the right putt.
It gives your mind a structure to follow which is what ultimately prepares you mentally knowing you’ve done everything on the checklist for your routine and you are now ready to sink the putt.
8. You 3 Putted? So what? Let it go!
Getting over a 3 putt can be tough. It’s a mental lapse you had on the putting green not a physical skill issue.
You’re a great putter but you didn’t trust yourself to be able to lag putt the ball successfully. You didn’t trust your read of the break and failed to trust the feel as to how much power to give the ball.
Trust is a huge factor in great putting.
What you see in front of you ultimately impacts your putting stroke so it’s important to keep a quiet mind and trust your feel when it comes to lag putting. Think only during practice time when you want to be consciously aware of what’s causing you to miss.
Talk positively to yourself prior to hitting the putt such as “you got this” or “let’s show off my lag putting skills I know I have.”
9. Keep a Successful Putts Memory Journal
Give yourself a confidence boost before a round by reviewing your success journal of putts you’ve made in the past that you decided to save for remembrance by logging in a journal.
I can recall some of my greatest putts both long and short and it’s fun to think about them from time to time and relish the memories.
10. Quality Practice for Quality Improvement
The best way to practice your putting is to have a focused game plan to follow. You should be spending at least 50% of your practice time on short game but how do you split up the time spent putting for maximum improvement?
The best technique is to spend 1/3 of the time working on specific pressure drills, 1/3 of the time on random length putting, and 1/3 of the time simulating course scenarios.
I’ve built a structured practice plan that will improve your putting tremendously and take your game to another level. Improving your putting alone with my plan will lower your scores but my plan also helps you develop the other areas of your short game and long game to be the best overall player you can be.