Tip #50 from my book, “Break 80! 52 Ways To Lower Your Golf Score Without Practice” is about connecting your conscious mind to your unconscious mind just before you swing or stroke your putt to execute a really good pre shot routine that lines up your shot. As I’ve said a million times, you golf your best unconsciously, that is, without thinking. Therefore, it only makes sense to FIRST, communicate to your unconscious mind EXACTLY what it is you want to happen! You want your golf ball to go to a specific target, right? The hole, a landing spot for a chip, a spot on the fairway, etc. Do this for EVERY shot with tip #50 below from the book.
Greens and Fairways,
p.s. Want all 52 Ways To Lower Your Score Without Practice? Sign up for these emails. http://break80golf.com/
As usual, you can do this at home, during warmups, in your backyard for putting and chipping too. Set up to your shot or putt like normal and get all ready to hit/stroke it. Do your pre-shot routine just like you always do.
Right before the moment of truth where you start your backswing, look up at the target and stay looking at it while swinging or putting. You won’t believe how well you still hit the ball without looking at it and you will be shocked at how many putts you make. Believe me, if blind golfers can break 80 without ever seeing the ball, so can you.
What are the benefits? You will learn to connect target and ball together in your mind as you swing or putt. You will be sending an even more powerful message to your unconscious mind what you want the ball to do.
You will really learn how to TRUST your swing. For putting, you will discover awareness of how to keep your body very still and feel the clubhead travelling square down the target line.
Golf Digest published a study in 2005 that found that many golfers actually make more putts while looking at the hole while putting!
Today, I want to discuss Confidence and whatever that means to you. Recently, I interviewed a 20-year sports psychologist who had taken teams to the NCAA finals in his sport and had coached professionals for years. I asked him about Confidence and how you get it.
I’m not kidding when I tell you he said: “I don’t know any other way to get confidence other than to have success. You get confidence from past successes. Maybe a hypnotist can do some things but that’s been my experience. (he did not know that I do hypnosis…hah!).”
Anyway, I began to think about that on my last round when my golfing partner mentioned that he always putts his best when he has confidence stepping up to the ball. I agreed with him wholeheartedly that it seems that if you have the feeling like a ball is going in the hole, then that is the biggest factor in whether or not it goes in the hole or not, right?
Well, to take this further, I thought, well, I’ve made lots of putts when I DIDN’T have any confidence or I was just feeling nothing or neutral.
My brain always starts checking on my theories by taking them to the nth degree. In other words, a theory must hold up under extreme situations, it has to be taken to it’s logical end.
So, I tested this theory that you get confidence from having success… and it failed miserably. I thought about all the times I’ve had confidence with ever having any success AND, more importantly, I came to the conclusion that you DON’T EVEN NEED CONFIDENCE in order to have success!!!
Yes, confidence is a good thing. It certainly helps things…but it’s the cherry on cake! it’s not the cake!
Follow me here. We were all babies at one time, right? And most of us learned to walk from scratch, right? In other words, we learned to walk (got success) without ever having had any success at walking! Furthermore…we weren’t TAUGHT to walk. We just learned it by trial and error and modeling grownup humans already walking.
Therefore, we created success without ANY previous success! We had no confidence, just a DESIRE to walk and a willingness to get back up after we fall down. (maybe that’s all confidence really is)
I keep hearing from golfers saying that they lack confidence standing up there on the tee box about to hit an important drive. Or that their last miss on the green was because of doubt. Or, that they lacked confidence about to speak or present to their team or boss at their job.
Sooooo, what’s the point of this article? The punchline?
We don’t need confidence to do anything! The sooner you let go of that, the faster you will get confidence!
Really what happens when you do that, is you let go of some FEAR about whether or not you have confidence or not and can make this shot or not. When you let go of the FEAR, that’s when you play to your natural potential.
The formula for success is: Performance = Potential – Interference.
FEAR is the biggest interference in your golf game (and other areas of your life).
I’m going to get into this formula a lot in coming weeks. Stand by….
Greens and fairways,
So why do golfers on the practice green before a round take 2 or 3 balls, drop em and then hit them one after the other toward the same hole without setting up or reading the green?
Some people might answer, well, Craig, they’re working on their stroke.
I’m guessing what they mean by stroke is the ability to send the ball down the chosen target line.
Ok, fair enough, but if that is what they really want to do, that’s got to be the least effective way to accomplish that. If I wanted to accomplish that, I’d go get my putting track out with side guides or just line up a couple clubs as a track to make sure I hit the ball square and follow through square… and I’d do it on a spot on the green where it’s flat and straight so that I could see the results. I would hit 6 or 7 balls in a row and I wouldn’t even be hitting at a hole, I would be aiming at a smaller target than that. I would train my stroke this way. Doesn’t that make sense? Maybe there’s an even better way but certainly hitting 2 balls to various holes is NOT the best way to train your stroke.
But hitting your putt where you are aiming it is only a part of actually making a putt. In fact, I would suggest that speed and break are even more important.
So, I’m going to guess that the true answer as to why golfers hit 2 or 3 balls from the same spot (like I used to do), is because they’re lazy. They don’t want to go through the motions of reading a green and going through a routine like they do on a real putt. That would be REAL practice. I’ve asked and found that they actually think they are being more efficient and getting to hit more balls in the same amount of time which they consider “reps” or “repetitions.”
There’s this religious-like faith in repetitions in the golf world. But, isn’t it totally logical that if you are repeating an action that isn’t useful that you are ingraining poor results into your mind and muscles?
So what’s the truth about lazy practice putting? You’re getting reps and practicing how NOT to read a green and rely on the feedback you got from your first putt (which never happens on the real course). On top of that, those golfers are totally relaxed and at ease on the practice green with no pressure to make a putt. Final result? They are practicing UNFOCUSED golf and when they need to make a putt under pressure, it becomes extremely difficult.
You will not fix playing UNFOCUSED golf by buying more clubs.
You can’t become FOCUSED by hitting more unfocused putts on the practice green
A new putter or putting stroke will do nothing to reduce your score when your normal game is to play unfocused golf.
By the way, there’s nothing wrong with playing UNFOCUSED golf. That’s playing for the pure enjoyment of the game. Go out there and have a beer, I play this way some of the time for the sheer fun of it.
But when I want to go low….FOCUS and INTENTION
So what’s my point here? Whatever you do out there on the practice green or the range or even at home when you want to work on your game, BE INTENTIONAL. What do I mean by this?
I mean, before you hit a ball, have an idea of specifically want you are working on and put your intention on that. Ask yourself if what you’re doing is the best way to achieve my intention here. That’s how you will develop FOCUS for out on the course when it counts. That’s how you will make your warmups (practice) actually pay off for you out on the course.
I’d love to see your INTENTIONAL warmup tips for on the practice green below and why you think it works.
Greens and fairways,
It’s the 18th hole and my junior golfer, 15 year old son, walks up to the green and eyes his ball lying about 25 feet from the hole. It’s a double breaker with a bit of an uphill putt that he needs to win a bet from me. I follow him around the green as he squats behind the ball to take a look at the slope. I hover around him and look him in the eye and finally decide to give him a little lesson in managing his mental game.
I ask him: “So AJ, right when you take the putter back, do you breathe in, out or hold your breath?”
I have a sly smile on my face as he sends mental daggers my way through his eyes. He is determined to show up the old man for the first time in our many years of playing together. I just keep smiling and smirking while noticing his body language reeks of tension.
Flash backwards in time for a moment. I’ve been playing and teaching my junior golfer since he was 3 years old. Before that, I actually pushed him around a course while in a jogger’s baby carriage in his first year while I played the game. Heck, it was the only way I was going to get to play some weekends when his mother left him with me. I’ll never forget the gyrations I went through to try to keep him either asleep or entertained enough to stay quiet on a golf course! From a distance, other golfers must have thought I was nuts doing African dances around my funny-looking golf cart!
Come to think of it, you know, those times were probably very instrumental in my learning how to deal with distractions and still play the game at a high level. Did you know that Tiger Woods Dad would purposely yell and throw clubs in front of Tiger while he was swinging in order to teach him that famous Focusing ability he is famous for?
But I digress from the main story. From the age of 3 til about the age of 12, AJ would listen and hang on every word that I would say about golf.
I showed him a very simple swing that served him very well and we enjoyed many years of playing together, driving golf carts in crazy ways, and celebrating another grand day at the course with a tall soda (and beer) at the 19th hole.
And then, something happened…AJ hit that age where he all of a sudden “knows everything” if you know what I mean. His game started to get better and I could see this wall come up any time I would talk about the mental game of golf. In his eyes, it was just a matter of him playing more and practicing more and he’d seen the beginnings of improvement from that formula. Never mind that I write to 10,000 golfers every week, never mind that I’ve worked with hundreds of kids and elite athletes from all over the world. Never mind the fact that I took my own golf handicap down to a 5, shot a 1-under and a hole in one, all without practicing….No, never mind all that…I’m just Dad and I don’t know anything, right?
Flash forward to that 18th hole where he challenged me to a bet where if he won, I would have to buy him some new Nike shoes and if I won, he would have to wash my car 10 times. He wants those shoes really bad. I don’t let up as he walks all around his putt and takes an unusually long time to line it up. I know that he is a bowl of jello inside and his legs look like they will give out from under him at any moment.
He takes the putter back very hesitantly and leaves himself a 4-footer. I mentally pounce all over him as you can feel the pressure in the air between us. I tell him that he will not be able to handle the pressure and that I am looking forward to a clean car for the foreseeable future.
Hi misses the putt and I say nothing, not a word. We walk to the car in silence as I let him process the whole thing his way. I turn the radio on in the car to break the tension as we drive home.
A whole month later, he comes to me and tells me he is ready to learn about the mental game and we get going in earnest.
I just learned this week, as I write this, that AJ has earned a college scholarship to play golf in college. He is a fine, upstanding, moral young man who impressed a college coach not just with his golf skills but with his personality and character.
Sometimes, golfers need to get their lessons in a certain way that only works for them. After working with hundreds of golfers in person and more online, I’ve noticed a few patterns about what makes you a play your best game. It’s all about being able to play under pressure. More to come on that…
Greens and fairways,
The No-practice expert
The time has come to send our golf ball on our chosen path towards the hole. As you reach this point, you have done a great job of
completing your key tasks. You’ve gathered all the information you need. You have a very clear picture in mind of how you are going to make this putt. You have a good feel for the speed and the corresponding line. You can clearly see what part of the cup is going to accept the ball. You know that you’ve done your best aligning the ball, and your putter.
You have officially earned the right to make this putt!
My next point is a challenging one. I’m going to tell you what to think and feel as you stand over your putt. How can I do that? I really can’t, but I am going to try to guide you towards the proper mindset and emotional state.
As I stated above, you have earned the right to make this putt. You deserve it. You have followed all of the steps, and done your homework. All of this preparation is designed to put you in the ideal mental and emotional state.
There are just 2 more things that I will ask you to do:
1). Have 100% trust in the alignment of the ball and putter
2). Make absolutely sure that your final thought is about creating the speed that you have chosen for this particular putt
Let’s look at these two final concepts in a little more detail. Having complete trust in the alignment of the ball and putter is one of the key components of the Banana Putting System. One of the main reasons that golfers miss putts is a lack of trust in their alignment. By carefully going through all of the steps in this book, you have gathered all of the information you need. You have a picture in mind of your ideal putt. You now need to place 100% trust in the work you have done.
Putts are pulled and pushed and hit with too much and too little speed because the golfer doesn’t believe that he or she is properly aligned. My good friend Dr. Craig Farnsworth once told me:
You are much better off to be completely committed to the wrong line,
than to be uncommitted to the right line.
I believe that golfers need to have achievable objectives when they play. An achievable objective is something that you can control and something you can measure or track. A key objective in putting is total and complete commitment to the line and speed you have chosen.
Total and complete commitment
Total and complete commitment
Total and complete commitment
Sorry for the repetition, but this is really important if you are going to make your golf ball go in the hole. Please remember, you’ve worked very hard to arrive at this point completely prepared. All of the work, all of the steps are carefully scripted so that you can stand over your ball with this level of commitment.
Standing in the way of this state of total and complete commitment are your thoughts and feelings as you stand over the ball. Nearly all of our work has been done from the “level eye” position that we talked about earlier. Things make sense and “look right” when we look and see with our head in an upright and level position.
Your address of the ball is getting ready to change all that. As you position yourself over the ball, you are going to tilt your body and head towards the ball. As you turn your head to look down the start line, you rotate your face and eyes toward the target. Your eyes are no longer level.
Suddenly the world looks different!
What happened to that nice vision you had of a perfect putt?
Have you completely lost your feel for the putt?
Where’s your line?
This doesn’t look right?!
Do you need to make an adjustment to fit your new perspective?
This is what goes through the mind of nearly every golfer. This is what we’re going to remove from your game. This is why you miss more than you make.
Are you turning the page or your computer to see this photo more clearly? I would do the same thing. Everything is suddenly turned 90 degrees from my “level eyes” position and its very confusing. Can you imagine driving your car with your head turned 90 degrees to the side. No way! You wouldn’t make it out of the driveway before you crashed into something.
This is why you get very confused and unsure standing over the ball. You have suddenly put yourself in a position where it’s very hard to believe that you are properly aligned.
That’s why you did all the steps, and very carefully chose your start line. That’s why you very carefully lined up your golf ball. That’s why you have aligned your putter exactly with your golf ball alignment. I have asked you to do all of these things for an important reason.
I’m going to ask you to completely ignore all of these crazy thoughts and feelings you have as you stand over the ball. That’s right…completely ignore them.
Let me ask you a quick question. Do you have anyone in your personal or business life that you ask for advice? Most people have a trusted friend or advisor that they will ask for advice or input.
What would you do if this person consistently gave you the wrong answer? You would probably stop listening after a while, wouldn’t you? I think so.
In this case, the person giving you bad advice is YOU.
Your thoughts and feelings are the source of this uncertainty as you stand over the ball. These thoughts and feelings often conflict with the earlier work that you have done, and because of that, leave you confused. You suddenly change your view of the putt, and adjust your stance, your putter alignment, or you manipulate the putter during the stroke.
You do all of this because this final perspective standing over the ball is different.
This is an excerpt from the book: “Banana Putting” by PGA instructor Paul Hobart.
Paul States at the beginning of Banana Putting:
I have a few bold statements to make before we get started.
Yes, the yips can become a thing of the past. I’ll explain them, why you get them, and how to be so ready to hit your putt that the word never even comes up.
Practice will enhance the concepts in this book, and I will suggest some drills and techniques if you want to take your putting to another level.
To get more information on Banana Putting and Paul Hobart, click here
Getting the correct alignment for the putt is crucial to starting the ball on-line. Not only does this mean having the correct alignment of the putter, but also the correct alignment of the body.
When the body is correctly aligned to your target, the putting stroke will remain square to the target through the entire motion. This will eliminate any need for the body to try and compensate for poor alignment during the stroke.
Alignment is the act of getting not only the putter aimed correctly at your target, but also having the appropriate areas of your body aligned correctly with your target line.
While your putter will point directly down your target line, the line formed by your shoulders, knees, and even feet will not be pointing at your target – they will be parallel to it.
Imagine standing over a set of railroad tracks. The track farthest away from you is the line down which you will aim your putter. The track closes to you is the one with which you align your body.
Aligning your body correctly to your target line is actually quite easy and can be accomplished in only three steps.
• Choose the line on which you want your ball to start
• Walk up to the ball, place your putter behind it, and with your eyes directly over the ball, align your putter to the target using the alignment line on your putter to point it straight down the target-line you have just chosen
• Align the toes of each of your feet on the line you have just aligned your putter to. (If you drew a line from the tip of each shoe, it would run parallel to your target-line line. )
• Square your shoulders to your target-line. This is the most important part of aligning your body.
If you decide to only follow one of these steps, make sure this is the one. The path of your putting-stroke is determined by the alignment of your shoulders. Square shoulders=square putting stroke. Open shoulders=out-to-in putting stroke. Closed shoulders=in-to-out stroke. Making sure your shoulders are square to your target line before you take your putter back will guarantee a square putting stroke every time.
• If you need help figuring out if your shoulders are indeed square to your target-line, hold a golf shaft across each shoulder with both hands and turn your shoulders so that the shaft is now parallel to your target line.
This is an excerpt from the powerful ebook: “Breakthrough Putting Secrets Revealed”
Too many golfers just go up to their putt completely mindless, having never worked on any of the foundations that set you up for a consistent putting stroke that sends the ball on the chosen line of travel.
There are a number of things you must do if you want to be a putter who doesn’t fold under the pressure of a must-make putt. The problem with far too many every-day golfers is that they have made some great putts in the past and so they carry around with them the idea that they are good while using a poor mechanical motion.
Even a stopped clock is right twice a day!
Get Breakthrough Putting Secrets Revealed to find out what you must do to really become a great putter.
teaches you what you NEED TO KNOW and not what you ought to know and nothing more. Focus on this foundational system and you will discover how to become a much better putter.
My friend Scott Myers has done a fantastic job of breaking it down to the core principles. Forget the rest and focus on the 80/20 of putting Breakthrough Putting Secrets Revealed.
Greens and fairways
P.S. Tell me what you think about this topic below!
You can’t teach a player how to putt, but you can put across some of the
basic ideas to help him get the ball rolling toward the hole.
Where do most of the tournament players spend the most time? On the putting green, of course. You can’t score without sinking the ball in the hole.
When one of the boys wants to give one of his fellow pros the needle, all he has to say is, “You’re the greatest putter in the world.” More nasty things have been said about putting than about Russia. From the high- handicapper to the scratch player to the touring pro, wails are heard about their putting.
I’m no exception. It’s normal to complain after you hit two perfect shots that travel 450 yards straight to within six feet of the cup and then miss the birdie putt. After all, the surface of the green is specially prepared to make the ball roll true. There’s no rough, no sand, and nothing to worry about except the cup. It sounds easy but, of course, isn’t. Other- wise, the men who build golf courses wouldn’t allow two shots to get to the green and then two more to get in the hole for a par. Of course, to score you have to one-putt, not only when you hit the greens but when you miss them, too.
When I won the Masters in 1960, I was putting good—no doubt about that. But you still have to play a lot of other good shots to win a golf tournament, especially such a prize as the Masters.
On the first hole of the last round, I hooked my tee shot away to the left of the fairway over some trees almost to another fairway. But I hit a two-iron onto the putting surface 20 feet from the pin and holed the putt for a birdie. What had looked like a sure bogey from the first tee became a birdie.
The second hole is a par five that can be reached in two. I landed in
a sand trap on my second shot, but with an explosion shot got within two
feet of the pin. I figured that I was off to a flying start with my second birdie. I missed the two-footer.
Don’t ask me what causes inconsistency in putting, because I can’t tell you, except that I feel that erratic putting comes from not doing the same thing all the time.
Pick the style which suits you best and stick to it. There are a couple of things, though, that have to be done no matter which way you putt. The blade must be square behind the ball at impact. In other words, the center of the ball and the blade of the putter are at right angles. And your head must not move when you putt. Any movement of the head not only will take your stroke off the intended line of flight, but also will prevent you from stroking the ball the same way all the time. You must see the blade of the putter contact the ball or you haven’t done the job right.
At one time or another I have putted every possible way, I think, except standing on my head. Some of them worked, some of the time. Some never worked. When I first went on the tour, I traveled by car. They joked about the trunk of my car, but it was no gag. When I opened it I had to be alert because there were 25 putters jammed in the back and they might come tumbling out.
Through trial and error, I came upon one way to putt that seems to
remain the same. I use the reverse overlapping grip, which sounds technical
but actually is the Vardon grip in reverse.
I have all five fingers of the
right hand on the club. I place the bottom three fingers of the left hand
on the club, insert the index finger between the groove formed by the last
two fingers of the right hand, and put my left thumb on the shaft so that
the fingernail is touching it. This immobilizes the left hand and makes
it just a guide in the stroke.
Although both hands move together, the right
hand does the putting. Many things can go wrong with a putt. You can read the greens wrong,
find a roll that isn’t there, or miss one that is. You can play a putt to break
left and it goes straight, or vice versa. And, most of all, on putts of 15 feet
or more, there is the problem of how hard to hit the ball.
I like to putt hard enough so that the ball gets past the hole. That way
it has a double chance of going in, once on the first putt and again on the
putt coming back. There is no worse feeling than leaving a putt short, dead
on line for the hole. I think I’d rather get hit by Rocky Marciano.
You’ve felt this before, I know it.
Some days out there on the course (or at least some holes in a round), you just “feel” like you are going to make everything…and you have a great putting round…
Other days, you just can’t buy a putt for any amount of money right?
I remember one particular round where I had that feeling putting…
It was a scramble I was playing with 3 other buddies. We had a lot of pride riding on this as the representatives of our workplace vs. those “other guys” we love to hate! (Did you ever see that episode of “Cheers” where the gang plays softball against the bar down the street? It was like that.)
Anyway…we are facing humiliation, down by 4 strokes with 5 holes to go and we are on a par 3, about 170 yards. Out of the 4 of us, only one put it on the green and when we got to the ball, we noticed it was a twisting, downhill, left-to-righter. All of us are right-handed and so this was about as tough of a putt as it gets from about 12 feet.
I can’t really explain how I got there, but as I walked up to hit that putt as the last guy in our group, something just grabbed ahold of me and I felt like I JUST KNEW it was going to go in. I KNEW I was going to make it. My buddies tried to give me help with the line and distance, and advice, etc. and I just ignored it and stared at the hole.
It was the strangest thing because I wasn’t the go-to guy in our group on the green at all. I was the guy who usually put it out there on the fairway about 270 yards consistently and was pretty good with approach shots. But putting? Not the best part of my game.
It was almost like I could hear an echo of myself inside my head saying something like “It’s just going in…”
And it did…just like I saw it going in in my mind before I ever stroked the putt.
I’m not here to tell you how I created that feeling. I honestly didn’t really try to…it just happened.
What I do want to tell you though, is that I now believe that I have this ability…I have this “state” inside me.
I think the Golf Gods gave me a taste of greatness there to let me know I have this. When I go out to the course now, if I really put my intention on it, I can bring back some or all of that feeling by going back to that day. It’s easier to get into your memory banks when you have done some unconscious connecting like I have. Keep following my journey and you’ll learn more on how to do that.
The best advice I can give to you on how to play golf with your unconscious mind is to:
Have the intention to trust your unconscious mind to do the putting and then ASSUME it is doing that.
We didn’t win the scramble but I came away from that round with something even more valuable. I owned something about myself that day. I ran with it. I still build on it. I know you’ve had a taste of this yourself. When you get it either on the putting green or elsewhere on the course, SAVOR it! Believe in it! Soak it up, pretend you can expand it throughout your body. Don’t deny it, don’t doubt it…GO WITH IT.
Expect to get more of whatever you focus on.
I encourage you to get some mechanical instruction on putting, for sure. AND, you know darn well that when you JUST FEEL like you are going to make a putt…then it doesn’t matter how you putt…it goes in. Your mind, if allowed to do so, can make every putt. Pretend you can clear the interference between your thoughts and letting your consistent self take over to make all the right calculations for speed, break, distance and translate that into the minute muscle movements to put it all together.
Hold the thought about that time when you KNEW it was going in.
Hmmm, I’m betting you’ve had that thought on a bunch of 2-foot putts haven’t you? I’ll bet you’ve had that thought on the practice green right before the round even…
I wonder how you will allow yourself to tap into that KNOWING and FEELING again. It’s 10 times more powerful than any putting gadget. After all, how many perfectly straight putts will you have out there on a given round that rely mostly on technique? Not many.
Assume you can tap into that “It’s going in” state and you will…
You don’t need any help putting…you just need to learn how to trust…
Tell me below how/when you have created that “This one is going in” knowing or feeling.
Greens and fairways,
One of the problems most golfers–especially yipsters–have is becoming “cup bound.” Of course, we want to drain all short putts. However, we sometimes focus so intently on the cup we lose touch with how to optimally stroke the putt. The more we emphasize the cup the more we divert concentration and allow pressure to influence.
The antidote to being cup bound is to immerse into the process of stroking the putt for its own sake. You see, the goal is NOT to sink the putt. Rather, the goal is to put a good stroke on it–something which you can completely control. Now, don’t become hypersensitized to all the little minutia of the stroking process. Instead, I like to say just “be with” the execution of the putt. Keep your process goals at the general levels of stroking a “smooth,” “solid,” “heavy,” “committed,” or “pure” putt.
The best way to do this is to emphasize proper speed control. We all calibrate correct speed/distance control on midrange and approach putts, but because we are cup bound we tend to forget this on makable ones. So whenever you have one of “those” putts, throw yourself into making a purposeful STROLL (stroke + roll) with the proper speed. As you take a last look at the cup pinpoint a spot eighteen inches past this where you want the ball to stop (if it somehow misses!). These techniques will help shift from being cup bound and enable good strolls.
Here are other proven putting tactics.
• Yawn. As you are waiting your turn, take a long and deep yawn. Feel like a lion before it pounces on its prey. Are you yawning now?!
• Develop and rely upon your preputt routine. It is your “safe harbor” outside the wild seas of the yips. Whenever you commence your routine, breath a sigh of relief realizing everything is now on “automatic pilot.” Consistently emphasizing what you can control sidesteps the yips. Stop yawning!
• As important a preputt routine is, sometimes the yips can even infiltrate this. On those occasions when you feel the quivers bubbling over even before you set up, forget the routine, step right up, and stroke the ball. This is a more positive expansion of Lee Trevino’s classic advice of “miss ‘em quick.” Sneak past these shaky putts. There is nothing to be gained by grinding them out. They are merely to be survived and forgotten. Go back to your full preputt routine on the next green. It will be better.
• Here is a neat little tactic one of you originally shared with me.
Wear a rubberband or one of those colored symbolic rubber bracelets. Whenever you feel queasy, pessimistic, or fearful before a putt, snap that band…HARD! That physical sensation should “snap” you out of tentativeness to become more positive, detached, or even lighthearted about the putt.
• Step away. When you feel the quivers seeping in when over a putt, step back. You do so when distracted on a full swings, so why not on putts? Be like the baseball batter who steps out of the box, then reengages, and steps back in. When you don’t feel ready to putt, step back, apologize to your partners, reengage into the new performance, and then stroke the putt. Give yourself permission to step away.
• Employ “nonchalant” putts. Think about it. When you have an eighteen-incher, you either stand on your rear foot, with a very open stance, or even backhandedly tap it in without thinking nor caring. Experiment with just how far you can do this. You might become surprised that you can extend this distance far into your “throw up zone.” Even if you miss such putts remind yourself you would have probably missed them anyway with the regular stroke,…but now with a lot less stress. Nonchalant putting is not so much a permanent ploy, but a stopgap measure until you earn some confidence from your regular stroking.
• The capstone of regaining control is to embody a super-assertive attitude. Stand up over makable putts and stroke them with abandon, apathy, or even disdain…just like you did when you were a kid. They are just little putts and really do not mean anything in the grand scheme of things. Stroke them, go to the next tee, and play more golf. Not caring about these putts is both the means and ends to controlling the yips.
THE CORE OF REGAINING CONTROL
I’ve saved another one of the secrets to putting until now to reward those who are still reading this! It may seem blatantly obvious, but you have to learn to better relax during a round. Relaxation is not only a defense to yipping, it is also the process to allow more concentrated efforts to emerge. Deep relaxing insulates you from the yips. Period.
Here is a little performance tip: if you wait to relax until you feel vulnerable over a putt, it is too late. Employ your own style of relaxing both before and during a round, particularly when you do not feel any pressure.
Your style of relaxing not only involves breathing, body awareness, visualizing, disassociating, and even creating positive affirmations. You see, when deeply relaxed you achieve a state called centering. This is where your physical, mental, emotional, procedural, intuitive, and even spiritual selves all blend together. Integrated efforts come from this center. Specifically, concentration, calmness, and even confidence (literally, “with faith”) all naturally emerge from this center. It is not only the place, but also the conduit through which good performances flow.
With regards to yipping, the more relaxed you approach the entire round the better you can stroll smooth putts. The deeper your centering the more insulated you will be from the pressures of silly little putts. You are not only more physically loose, but also more mentally calm. As you center, you will first notice being more immune to four-footers, then slick three-footers, and finally downhill breakers on the eighteenth green.
Relaxation is a skill and, like any other skill, the more you develop your style the more deep and sustained it becomes. If you are unsure how to develop it, THE best money you can EVER invest in your game is to spend a couple of sessions with a qualified counselor to learn how. Relaxation breeds centering, concentration, and confidence.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
If you have studied these three articles you are now undoubtedly overwhelmed. Good! You see, clarity evolves from confusion. You certainly cannot think about all of these individual emphases over a pressure putt or your eyes will bulge out, hands will strangle the blade, and head will surely explode! Systematically work your way through all this material. It is well worth it…and it can even be fun.
Your goal is to discover which of the perspectives, techniques, and tactics work…right now. If nothing else, all of these new approaches and techniques will confuse your yips! No matter whether or not they work, store away all of them. Years ago, I devised the metaphor of the putting “toolbox.” Like the one in your garage, place all your various putting tools into it. You will never know when one technique which initially did not fit now works wonders. Yipsters who regain control and stay resilient have access to multiple approaches.
There will always be adjustments to make. Various emphases or techniques will work for awhile and then run their courses. Realize and accept this. In this respect, you are just like every other player who continually makes adjustments. With each successful application, yipsters gain earned confidence with their putting. So eventually you will not even refer to yourself as a “yipster” anymore. Congratulations!
As I stated at the beginning of this series, good putters are courageous putters. They know and honor their own styles of putting–procedural, mechanical, and mental. However, they are also open to experiment and enhance. Solid putting performances evolve from this balance between honoring and enhancing.
Believe it, you can overcome the yips to become an overall better putter. Others have done it and you can too. Find out for yourself. If succumbing to the yips is one of life’s failures, then regaining control is one of life’s grand accomplishments. The proof is in the putting.
Get Mind Links and the bonus ebook: The psychology of chipping and putting
Dr. Tom Kubistant, CSP
If putting is “the black art of golf,” then the yips is the “black hole.” Uncontrollably quivering, twitching, and downright convulsing sends many competent players straight to the 19th Hole. Beyond going nuts with their putting, yipsters lose the inherent joy in playing The Game. No matter where they are during a hole, there is always that nagging thought reminding they will eventually have to stroke a short putt. These apprehensions eventually seep into the rest of their games. A dark cloud usually hangs over yipsters and gloom pervades their entire beings. If you doubt this, try living with one!
Becoming a better putter is a sequential process enfolding from general to specific. No one tactic will work in isolation. One first has to become grounded with the general perspectives and principles before one can effectively employ specific techniques.
Overcoming the yips is as much psychological as it is physiological, mechanical, procedural, and technological. Every golfer has to develop a holistic approach to putting encompassing all those elements. Putting is the most mental part of golf. Especially when afflicted with the yips, each element has to be addressed individually and then reintegrated back into the whole. This is why it takes so long. But the yips can eventually be overcome so the golfer actually becomes a better putter.
The following sections have been proven successful by scores of players. Don’t believe me; find out for yourself. I have divided them into: setup positions, stroking techniques, and putting tactics. Take out your Hi-Liter!
Here are some new applications…a couple of which were submitted by you golfers. Thank you. By the way, the best tongue-and-cheek tactic one of you shared was, “Bang the putter against your ankle. The crippling pain will disconnect any yips!”
• You have undoubtedly experimented with a multitude of putter styles and lengths. Accept there is no one perfect putter. Find a pretty good one and stick with it for at least FOUR months. During this time the only thing to experiment with is the size of the grip. You see, the answer is not in the wand, but in the magician.
• As you walk up to the ball, do the “swimmer’s shake.” Roll your head, shrug shoulders, and shake out arms all the way down to your hands like swimmers do when they step onto starting blocks. Breathe deeply while doing this. Don’t fret, your playing partners probably won’t notice…they are worrying about their own putts.
• Stand up straighter so the arms hang more. This way the stroke can swing more from the shoulders. This may initially feel strange for your eyes may be over two inches farther away from the ball. However, this new distance is much closer to that of the other strokes in your game.
• Take a wider stance like you would in the wind. Then roll in or pigeon-toe your feet (like Arnold Palmer) so you feel the pressure on the inner parts. The feeling of solidly braced legs seems to extend all the way up to the head.
• Spread out your toes inside the shoes. By being aware of feet and toes you shift sensitivity away from the eyes and hands.
The next six techniques are little movements which facilitate the smooth transition from setup to takeaway.
• As you step up forcefully pound the putter on the ground like Kenny Perry. This overt movement stimulates a more purposeful mindset.
• Place the putter in front of the ball and then loop it back over like Nick Price.
• Hover the putter like Jack Nicklaus. This helps with a more rhythmic and lower takeaway. You can also feel this takeaway going slightly down in an arc, thus minimizing subtle movements in the wrists.
• Put a forward press on the club so it stabilizes both hands in the
same position throughout the stroke.
• Set the putter 2-3 inches behind the ball. This promotes a smoother throughstroke.
• Gently tap the putterhead a couple of times on the ground before taking it back. The yips flourish in static tension. All six techniques engage your natural and purposeful rhythm before the takeaway.
Here are some neat techniques. Experiment with each of them alone and then in combination with one of the above setup positions.
• On the rehearsal stroke, have the putterhead follow through blocking out vision of the cup. This will facilitate completion of the actual stroke.
• Purposefully purse or bite your lips during the stroke. This physical act seems to divert and even dissipate tension.
• Stick out your tongue like Michael Jordon. This keeps your jaw, neck, and shoulders loose.
• Feel the inner bone of the rear elbow brush across your midsection during the throughstroke. This simultaneously keeps the stroke on line as well as releases the putterhead. Some players have combined this technique with the “secret” detailed in Part II (Go look it up!).
• When you feel shaky over a putt, jam the rear elbow close to your navel. This will restrict the stroke, but it will hold up. Since this position won’t generate as much power, make sure you follow through.
• Each time you come upon a stroking technique that works–even for just a couple of rounds–store it away in your memory. Such techniques are valuable in themselves, but they also reveal your ideal putting stroke.