Have you ever heard the saying ”Golf is played on a 5 inch course – the distance between your ears”?
Bobby Jones could not have been more right. The thoughts we think on the course has a major impact on how we actually play, so having the right mindset when approaching a shot is very important for all golfers, at all levels.
One of the things that fascinates me a lot when it comes to putting is the mindset we have and the thoughts we think before hitting a putt.
What goes through your mind the seconds before you hit a putt? Are you wishing for it to go in, are you hoping not to miss, or are you confident that you’ll make it?
Standing over a putt that you really want to make can be a nerve-racking experience. I’m not saying there are putts that you don’t want to make haha but we all know that nobody will make every single putt every single time they play, so what I mean are those putts that you really, really want to make. Maybe it’s a birdie putt, a putt to break 80 for the first time or simply a putt to beat your friend on the last hole. In those moments, even a fairly short putt can seem more daunting than usual.
I believe that the way we approach a putt and the thoughts we think before hitting it, is what will ultimately help us become consistently good putters. You might be able to get away with a poor mindset and putt well for a period of time but if you’re serious about putting well consistently, you need a positive and confident mindset. One of the resources that helped me get a better understanding of the importance of controlling my mind on the putting green, and that I would recommend to anyone looking to improve their putting, is the book Putting Out Of Your Mind by Dr. Bob Rotella.
When stepping up to hit a putt you need to believe that you will make it. It’s not enough to wish for a putt to go in and you certainly can’t step up to hit a putt focusing on not missing it. You need to hit the putt with the confidence that you’ll make it. I’ve personally created confidence on the putting green partly by practicing a lot of putting but also by working on my mindset and using a mantra that I can repeat for myself as I get ready to putt. For me, this is a way to create a routine that I’m comfortable with and that gives me confidence before hitting a putt, while it’s also a way to eliminate all the bad and overwhelming thoughts about what might go wrong, the consequences of missing the putt or any technique-related thoughts that can easily pop up in my head before hitting a putt.
Before hitting a putt I always tell myself (and this is a translation to the best of my abilities haha because I always say it in Swedish) ”hit the line and you’ll make it”. This sentence works well for me because it gives me confidence that I’ve read and lined up the ball correctly and I then know that if I just hit the speed on that line, then I’ll make the putt. In addition, it also keeps all the negative noise away and lets me focus on making the putt without worrying about anything else.
You don’t necessarily need to have this type of mantra that you always repeat for yourself before hitting a putt but I’ve noticed that this is something that has worked really well for me in order to keep my mind focused at the task at hand and I have similar keywords or phrases for various parts of my game to shut out unnecessary thoughts and build routine and confidence to execute to the best of my abilities. If you feel as if you’re struggling with the mental side of putting and that you’re putting not to miss or find yourself wishing for the ball to go in rather than confidently hitting it to go in, then you might want to give this whole mantra thing a try. It can be anything you want it to be as long as it resonates with your putting and way of thinking, and gives you the confidence you need to hit a putt like you already know that you’ll make it.
I’m curious to hear if anybody else uses any keywords or mantras to keep mentally focused/prepared when hitting putts or other shots on the golf course?