Human nature is what makes putting a different game. Our emotions, feelings, and thoughts make the simple task of putting more complex and challenging. Just a bit of tension throws off the best of strokes. A flicker of doubt causes tentativeness. Trying too hard creates tension and cause you to leave a putt three-feet short. See if you are guilty of making any of the following mental bogeys on the green.
1. “Hit and Hope” Putting
If you hit and hope, you lack confidence to make putts. The moment you hit a putt, you pray it stops somewhere near the hole. Hit and hope putters miss it first in their mind before the putter starts back. Even worse, you hope that you won’t three-putt! It is hard for you to focus on the task. Your stroke is tense because you think about avoiding poor outcomes. Worst of all, you are happy to just two-putt and avoid a three-putt.
2. “Do or Die” Putting
A do or die putter focuses too much on outcome–making or missing a putt. If this sounds like you, you worry too much about the end result and what the putt means. You always know what you are putting for–par, birdie, or bogey. You say to yourself “If I miss this, I’ll make another bogey”. As you focus on making or missing your par, birdie, bogie or whatever, this causes you to forget about execution and forget what you need to focus on to hit a solid putt. This mental bogey is a sure way for you to make bogey on the hole.
3. “Wishy-Washy” Putting
If you engage in wishy-washy putting you can’t make decisions! You change you mind often about how you want to hit your putt. When you first read a putt, you decide that it’s a right edge putt, but you change your mind often as you read the putt from all angles. As you stand over the ball, confusion makes you unsure about the putt. You have at least two lines in your mind, which makes for an indecisive stroke. The indecision kills your ability to hit putts with confidence. Indecision and doubt are a player’s worst enemy.
4. “Pessimistic” Putting
If you’re a pessimistic putter, you’re a streaky putter. If you putt well early in the round, everything’s OK and you putt well that day. Your confidence is high from making putts. You could run the table if you get hot early. But if you miss early, you lose confidence and this kills your momentum. You become pessimistic and say to yourself: “I’m having a poor putting day.” Your pessimism from missing putts on the first few holes continues the entire day. Each and every missed putt makes you doubt your ability and become more and more pessimistic.
5. “Panicked” Putting
If you engage in panicked putting, you are too scared to pull the putter back. You are so afraid to miss that you can’t see straight. Simple putts make you sweat and shake. Even if you gather yourself enough to start the putter back, you’re too tense to make a smooth stroke. You panic because putting is the weakest part of your game and you know poor putting leads to poor scores. Memories of poor putting rounds and missed three-footers leave you bewildered. You have missed too many putts and in your mind, to forget.
6. “Mechanistic” Putting
If you are a mechanistic putter, you think too much about mechanics as you putt. Your left brain, the analytical side of your mind, has you under its spell. The putter does not feel free or natural. You watch the putter head as it swings back and forth and try to adjust in mid-stroke. You watch the putter on the backstroke and force it down the line on the forward-stroke. You are so focused on perfect stroke path that you loose feel.