Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Putting Spectrum

Where are you on this spectrum?  Do you hit and hope or are you in a trusting mindset?  Are you trying too hard because you really need the putt or are you working on how to make the putt as you are putting it?  When golfers have great days on the course, they often call their mindset The Zone.  If you want to putt in The Zone, you must recognize your mindset as you are playing and commit to the proper mindset.  That mindset is the one at the far right side of the spectrum, the "see it, feel it, trust it, roll it" mindset.

If you aren't confident or have a tough time committing to a line or speed, you will have a tough time with all facets of the far right mindset.  We all know that there are times when we need to make a putt.  We can feel momentum slipping away from us on a hole or during a round.  Even though we recognize those times, we must set it aside and putt with a trusting mindset, not a pressing mindset.  Wanting often leads to trying.  Trying often leads to tension.  Tension leads to a lack of feel for speed.  When players try too hard to make a putt, they often face a long putt coming back.  Are you thinking mechanics?  If so, you are probably not doing any part of the far right mindset well.  Mechanics seem to overtake all thoughts and will produce good putts at times, but will also whittle away at your trust as the day goes on.  As you move to the right, you get to the place where you are putting a good roll on the ball.  This is close to the right mindset.  However, if you have this thought, you are still a bit too cerebral and not allowing your eyes to simply see it, your brain to commit to it and your heart to trust it.  The Zone is when all three of your intelligence centers line up to allow you to be your best self.

Here is Brittany Lang talking about her visualization on the golf course.

How can you putt from The Zone 100% of the time?  The first step is practice.  There are times when you need to practice mechanics and there are times to focus on putting a good roll on the ball.  Both of these things need to be planned and executed during specific times at practice.  When you move on from these tasks, make sure to spend some time in The Zone.  Your routine should include a look when you see or visualize what the putt will do.  As you do this, you will improve to the point where you can see the ball roll along the green in real time.  If this is tough at first, choose your favorite color and have the ball roll down a ribbon of that color.  You can also see things like a highway, a railroad track or a yellow brick road.  In other words, allow your imagination to work in order to help your visualization.  Once you "see" the putt, take a practice stroke and feel it.  It is easy to mess this step up, too.  Lots of people use this to think about mechanics instead of putting themselves in the actual position they will be in when they putt.  NO!  This is the time to feel, not to think. 

How do you trust it?  Well, you have to pay attention to what is going on in your mind.  If you see it, feel it and then have a thought such as, "this is going to break more than that" when you step up to the ball, you are not in the trusting mindset.  Step off, re read the putt and start over.  This lack of trust might be a lack of commitment or it could be a misread.  If you continuously step off the ball, you need to learn to commit.  Stepping off is a great tool when you recognize you aren't in the trusting mindset.  However, if it is overused, it signals a problem with commitment.  A trusting mindset is a clear mind that allows the stroke to mimic what you saw and felt.  It is a mind free of interference from distraction, either internal or external.  It is a simple approach to your task at hand.

Roll it!  Did you let it go?  Were you free of tension?  Did it feel like you weren't even conscious of your movements?  This is the final step to a free mindset.  There is a stillness in the mind that allows you to be still until the putt is well on its way.  Great putters look quiet over the ball and after the stroke mainly because their mindset is right! 

Here are a bunch of winning putts to watch.  See if you can tell if these pros are in the right mindset.



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