Putting: Make it look like it has a chance to go in

I want to talk about visualizing putts.  Lately I hadn’t felt like I was seeing lines well.  I had the speed down pretty well based on my previous post about putting.  And I have continued using that technique.  However, I’ve been missing a number of putts recently.

I tried something today that seemed to help a lot and as a result I saw the lines much better.

I was thinking that whenever I’ve seen the pros putt that it looks like every putt has a chance to go in.  They don’t tend to miss by very much.  If I look at my past misses, I could say that a small number of those putts looked like they had a chance to go in, but the majority did not.  And it wasn’t that they were so off, they weren’t.  In fact I missed a lot of those putts by maybe an inch or two on either side,or hit them short, or long, but they didn’t really look like they had a chance to go in.

So I tried something new.  My putting thought was this:  “Make the putt look like it has a chance to go in.”  It doesn’t mean that it has to go in, only that it looks like it has a chance to go in.  I hit the practice putting green, and my objective was to have every putt look like it had a chance to go in.

Now you might say, isn’t the objective of putting to get it in the hole?  Yes it is.  But how many people do you know who can hole every putt.

This was, for me, a very different experience putting with this thought.  For some reason it made it easier to see the lines.  It also seemed to help with my speed.  So I was doing this for a few minutes and an interesting thing happened.  I started to hole a lot of those practice putts.  These were 10 to 20 footers from different spots around the hole.  And they just kept going in.  Normally from that range I might make, 2 or 3 out of 20.  I started to make 9 to 12 of out of 20.  That’s a big increase.  And the putts that didn’t go in, were a lot closer to going in, they would lip, or just burn the edges, rather than being a couple of inches on either side, or short or long by a few feet.

So why did this work?

I don’t really know, but I suspect that I gave myself a real process for my subconscious to follow.  I wanted the putts to look like they had a chance of going in.  In order to have that happen, both the speed and the line have to be pretty much spot on.  I also, took the pressure out of holing the putt.  Since the goal wasn’t to make it, but to make it look like it had a chance, that is actually easier to accomplish then holing it.  But because they were on good lines with good speed, many of those went in.

It worked on the practice green.  Would it work on the course?

I ended up having one of the best putting days I’ve had recently.  I holed a number of good putts, but if I didn’t hole it, I always had a really easy tap in, even putting from as far as 60 feet away.  My lag putting was terrific.  It also had a really calming effect.  It took pressure off my long game.  I knew I wasn’t going to three putt, and I knew that if I put it on the green I had a chance of making it, and a certain two-putt.

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