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.
I dont understand it. Although I work year around with yipsters at the start of every season I receive an influx of requests from those poor souls afflicted with the putting, chipping and pitching, and full swing yips. The last few Augusts I was contacted by yipsters who lived in Australia,
New Zealand, South Africa, and even Tasmania who were commencing their seasons. And every March I am almost inundated with correspondence from yipsters across North America and Europe. It is almost as if golfers vow that in the upcoming season they will better cope with and even conquer their yipping. I donít understand the motivation for this timing, but there it is.
I have been researching and working with the putting yips since 1986. My first article on it was way back in 1990. This work expanded to the chipping/pitching and full swing yips. I have written series of articles on each of these three distinct types of yipping.
As this general affliction became more recognized, other athletes, performing artists, and professionals have contacted me for help with their yipping of fine motor skills. To date, I have helped pianists, dentists, baseball infielders, surgeons, drag racers, pool players, painters and sculptors, basketball players, jugglers, shooters, and even barbers. Erase those images (for example, of your dentist yipping!) from your head!
Along the way, I have almost become a clearinghouse for yips tips. Now, many of the tips I receive are fads, off-the-wall flukes, ìprofessionalsî trying to market some kind of snake oil, or help only limited types of people. But some of the advice has lasting and more generalized benefits.
Over the years in these pages, I have probably presented well over a hundred proven yips tips. I want to share some of the more recent putting tips which have helped golfers. Some of these are broad perspectives, others are physiological and neurological, still others are mechanical and procedural, and some of them are tactical. Please remember, all tips are isolated techniques. They need to be incorporated into the golferís entire putting system to be truly effective. (Please refer to my 2006 three-part series.) No technique should be employed or relied upon in isolation.
NEW ANTIDOTES TO THE Golf YIPS
Here are the best new proven putting yips tips you may wish to experiment, employ, and integrate.
ï First, at the beginning of the season, decide on ONE putter and stick with it for the entire year. I encounter so many yipsters who bounce around from putter to putter that, this in itself, only serves to keep them lost. No matter how mass produced, each putter has its own unique look, feel, and if you will, personality. Find one which looks good to your eye and stick with it through all of 2008. Stick with it especially during the low and yippy times. Blame this on me!
Your putter is your tool, sword, or instrument, if you will. Your putter can also be seen as an extension of your thoughts. Honor your putter. Granted, you will make different hand adjustments and even modify the grip (see below), but stick with the same putter. There are so many subtle variables in putting that you need to stick with the same putter to eliminate as many as them as possible. Choose one putter for the year.
Here is a unique variation which has helped a good many yipsters. If you want a bigger putter grip, you might want to experiment with building it up from the outside. Instead of installing a bulbous oversized grip, wrap one or 2 grips over your existing one. I have found tennis racquet overwraps work best. (A couple of yipsters have found some success with the opposite extreme in using the thinnest grip they could find. Keep this option in mind as a possible alternative.)
Unlike the slip-on oversize, the added layers provide more feedback. With any thicker grip you have to stroke the ball more fully, thus better employing the bigger muscle groups of the shoulders. Especially on short yipable putts, the greater diameter of the grip will help keep the fine motor impulses of the hands disengaged so a more connected stroke can commence. Make sure you stand taller or have a shorter putter so the arms naturally hang down. A thick slip-on or overwrap grip will help with a shoulder stroke in which the hands and forearms merely go along for the ride.
Take more…or less…time. Now, you may be reacting,ìGreat, this is a big help! Bear with me. Although I advise yipsters to identify, groove, and rely on a consistent preputt routine, sometimes it can become too routine. Experiment with the extremes of your preputt routine ranging on a continuum from: Lee Trevinoís philosophy of Miss Em Quick all the way to settling longer over the ball. I have had yipsters benefit (from temporary to permanent) by altering the time they spent over the putt–either more time or less time. Especially under pressure or when you feel yippy, change the timing in your preputt routine. Initially, you just want to survive these occurrences, but the alteration might help in the long run.
Set your hands way ahead of the ball like an extreme forward press. Push forward (bow, supinate) the front hand and cock back the rear hand as far as they will go. This position will also lock the rear elbow into your stomach which will reduce flinching. Indeed, this position will feel very restrictive…which is exactly what you may need.
This setup position will significantly change the angle of the putter face. So after you set your hands in this position align the back of the lead hand and the palm of back back hand on the target line. After making the micro-adjustments with your hands and putter face you might want to tap the putter on the ground a couple of times. This tapping releases any tension from this position as well as anchors the alignment.
Such putts will roll longer due to the decreased loft of the face. This will counteract the more restrictive stroke of your rear elbow wedged into your stomach. Trust that the ball will reach the target. Even if you do yip the stroke wonít be affected. Granted, this extreme press might not feel good nor look good, but the results will.
Here is a specific mental imagery many yipsters have found valuable. As you settle over the ball really ìfeelî the connection between the ball and the hole. No, this is nothing mystical. Imagine the hole receiving the ball like a vortex. Feel the ball being drawn to the hole and sucked down into it. Really visualize both the connection and process in great sensory detail and even in slow motion.
Such imagery should be comforting and reassuring. The hole is where your ball NEEDS to go. After seeing and feeling it, simply release the stroke sending the ball on its natural course to the inevitable result.
Really feeling the connection between ball and hole is the way of readying yourself to make the stroke. Do not start until you feel this connection. For yipsters, this imagery diverts attention away from the sensitized physiological and psychological emphases toward something that is outside of your control; namely, the ball being drawn down into the hole. Weeeee!
Here is a technique I have adapted from my general mental coaching playing sessions to specifically help yipsters. When we are on the course, I talk with my golfers about concentration. One concentrating technique I developed is what I call ìturbocharging.î On 3-4 big shots during a round, I advise the golfer to open the eyes very wide during the set up over the shot. Opening eyes very wide turbocharges existing concentration better immersing the player into the shot performance.
Under pressure and, in particular with yipsters, there is a tendency to blink at the end of the backstroke or during the throughstroke. Since the eyes are really an extension of the brain, blinking can disconnect the brain from the body, especially with fine motor skills. This blinking also tends to move the head. More significantly, this blinking disrupts concentration and allows the yips to twitch.
Unlike the squinty-eyed look of Clint Eastwood just before he blew someone away, full concentration is enhanced by a wide-eyed look of being completely immersed in the moment of the performance. Keeping your eyes wide open better connects brain with body. More integrated and fluid strokes then tend to emerge. Even if your vision becomes blurry, whenever you feel pressure, doubt, or the yips coming on, open your eyes way wide. This little technique will turbocharge your existing concentration.
Okay, if you are still reading this you deserve to be rewarded. There is, indeed, a secret to putting. You might have heard rumors about this, probably dismissing them as myths. Yes, there is one secret to putting just about all the best putters have employed and hoarded. They might have referred to it in different terms, but they all reach the same core. It is also one of the most important emphases for coping and even conquering the yips. For those golfers who come to Reno to work with me on their putting, I introduce it and we spend significant time working just on it. I also have them swear that they will not tell anyone else (under penalty of being forever cursed with the yips!). It is a secret I have alluded to in previous putting articles and even hidden deeply within a couple of them. This one emphasis unifies everything for just about everyone.
Enough buildup. The Secret is simply this: when the putt is away, visually focus on a couple blades of grass where the ball was. Thatís it.
If you go into each putting performance emphasizing looking at where the ball was, everything becomes more unified and even natural. The mechanical., psychological, neurological, rhythmical, and strategic elements of the putting performance blend together.
Now, this is much harder than it seems. Especially under pressure to make the putt, doubt, or with the emergence of the yips, our minds and bodies usually split and conflict. Having the discipline to visually focus on a blade of grass where the ball was connects stroke with outcome. (Now, this is greatly different from the ìkeeping your head stillî or ìlooking downî observations one hears from some inane commentators or teaching pros. It is quite a different neurological orientation and process.) Visually focus on the precise spot where the ball was. See a particular blade of grass, indentation, or even a discoloration where the ball was.
Many golfers–especially yipsters–take this emphasis one step further: after the putt is away they bring back the putter and place the toe on those blades of grass where the ball was before they look up. This is a great practice technique and it can also be effectively applied during the round.
Donít worry, your playing partners wonít notice. They will just think you kept your head still. They donít know the depth and breadth of what you are emphasizing. Please, donít believe me with this secret (and donít share it with others!). Find out for yourself.
HOW TO APPLY…OR NOT!
These are some the recent proven techniques, emphases, and even secrets when I work with yipsters. Now, do not run into your den or out to your courseís putting green to apply all of the above tips at once! All good putters, and especially those who recovered from the yips, have developed a comprehensive system to putting in which individual techniques were seamlessly integrated. This comprehensive system should include putting philosophy, strategy and tactics, relaxation and centering, concentration, reading and targeting, preputt and postputt routines, mechanics, rhythm, and even intuition.
See which one of the above fits for you and then implement just that one for a full ten days. It will probably work, but it may not. If it works, purposefully integrate it into your system. Then choose another tip to apply.
Remember, your yips were probably forming for years before they actually appeared. So your coping and conquering efforts will take some time to work as well. Dedication, patience, trust, and even a sense of humor will see you through.
Finally, donít do any of the above! Take a break and donít work on your yips. Sure, still play golf, but purposely donít emphasize anything nor worry about your putting. Just nonchalantly swipe at putts. Again, blame all of this on me!
Sometimes we just need to get away from it all. There is a time to apply, modify, and refine. However, there is also a time to do nothing. Especially with such a complicated and devious affliction as the yips, frequently the more we try to control it, the more elusive it becomes. Give yourself a break away from it. Look at this as a metaphorical ìpitstopî in your race with the yips.
Take a couple of weeks off. You might be pleasantly surprised that when you come back to addressing your putting you are more relaxed and even integrated. Sometimes our minds and bodies become so frazzled that each needs time to heal.
There is the classic Sam Snead story when he was asked to watch the swing of an extreme duffer. After five minutes of painful observing he was reported to have said, ìTake two weeks off…and then quit the game!î There is a time to push and then there is a time to step aside and let it all flow and go. Give yourself permission to occasionally step aside from your yips.
If there is a silver lining to the putting yips it is this: I have found that golfers who have overcome their yipping actually become better putters. They are more courageous, consistent, resilient, committed, fluid, and wise. Rest assured that if you can cope with the insanity of the yips, you can respond to any little putt.
Let it roll in.
Dr. Tom Kubistant is one of the original modern day sports psychologists. He has been researching the mental game and helping athletes since 1972. He has written five books and over 400 articles on the psychology of human performance. He is once again expanding his services to coach other athletes and performing artists. Although he rarely works with golfers anymore, he loves talking to them. © 2008, Dr. Tom Kubistant; all rights reserved
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Last time, we talked about commitment. As a helpful review, we discussed how using our own genetically programmed instructions for propelling us to golf improvement can be very powerful. The second part about the word “commitment” and how it applies to golf is what happens to us on the course. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, “commit to your shot.” Shoot, it’s not like I made this idea up myself. Golfers from over 100 years ago have been saying this and for good reason.
It’s because probably the greatest shot killer is not that you have a bad swing, or that you failed to align properly, or that your equipment stinks or any other reason that you normally come up with. The greatest shot killer is DOUBT! Yep, the slightest little hint that you’re unsure of whether or not you have the right club or not and it’s “all over but the crying” as some of my smart aleck friends say when they are about to whip me in a game.
I mentioned a perfect example of this with the Jack Nicklaus story about the 79 Masters when he couldn’t decide whether or not to use an 8 or a 9 iron and he used the 8 and sailed it over the green after not trusting his instincts and committing to the shot.
Also remember Brad Faxon’s words: “most golfers just suffer from too much doubt when it comes to putting.”
If you haven’t experienced doubt on the putting green before and seen it’s ugly effects, then you are already the greatest putter in the world and I want to know your secret. So many top pros have recounted in interviews that the best putting they ever did was when they were in their teens. Why? Because they had their best mechanics? Because they have a more steady nervous system in their youth? No, it’s because they are full of confidence and have reached a basic fundamental skill level. They have very few past failures and disappointments to cut into their natural cockiness.
And that’s all you need! The best putters in the world have long recognized this. Do you remember being a teenager and you felt invincible? Like you could do anything and nothing bad would happen to you? As we get older, things happen to us and we become more afraid to try things and we get closer to our own mortality.
When I was a teenager, I can remember being unafraid to go swim out to 10 foot waves in the ocean so that I could ride them in with my little blow up raft! Getting rescued by the lifeguard one time cured me of that real quick. I went river rafting once and after running a class 3 rapid, walked back up to the beginning of the rapid and SWAM it! I can also remember jumping off a 50 foot cliff overhanging a lake without knowing what was under the water. I look back at those times and think “how in the world did I ever survive being a teenager?” Could you go back to that time, in your head and create that state that is stored in your unconscious mind for confidence? Of course you can.
Let’s get back to commitment, which is an easier, more do-able route to achieving confidence, the opposite of doubt. See, it’s real easy for a golf psychologist or pro to tell you that you have to have “confidence” on every shot. Unfortunately, they don’t tell you how to manufacture this when all you have is a bunch of doubtful thoughts running through your head. Your standing up there with a shot that’s in-between clubs and all you can hear in your mind is “is it a long 9 or a short 8?” I know, I’ve been there. You’ve got 2 choices here now to get rid of that. You can either distract your mind with something else so that little voice gets crowded out, or, you can PRETEND that the choice you made is the right one and do it strongly and forcefully. You are going to ACT AS IF the choice you made is the best one for that situation. Commit to it! And you will repeat that conscious thought to yourself, maybe even out loud again with something like: “The 8 is the correct golf shot, the 8 is the correct shot.” Once again, fake it ’til you make it.
That’s the secret to commit to your golf shot. Now some help with making the right choice. This is simple: 90-95% of the time, your first choice is your best choice. You may have heard this before as I did but didn’t quite know why and because you didn’t know why, you didn’t trust this old idea. You might have even heard this concept as it relates to taking tests in school. I am now fully convinced of this having read a book called: Blink. The power of thinking without thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. And because I am convinced, it’s easier for me to make the choice and commit to it.
This book is loaded with scientific studies that support the conclusion that our unconscious mind learns things way before our conscious mind does and is far more accurate. Now, I’ve talked about the power of our unconscious mind in the Mental CD but I didn’t know it could do that too. I’ll give you one example of this power that we can use to help you become convinced so that you’ll learn to trust your choice and then commit fully to the golf shot since being logically convinced will only help you be fully behind your choice.
A few years ago, a group of scientists at the University of Iowa did an experiment. They set up a simple card game where there are red cards and blue cards in 4 separate decks. On the other side of each card was a money value. “Each card in those 4 decks either wins you a sum of money or costs you some money, and your job is to turn over cards from any of the decks, one at a time, in such a way that maximizes your winnings. What you don’t know at the beginning, however, is that the red decks are a minefield. The rewards are high, but when you lose on the red cards, you lose a lot. Actually, you can win only by taking cards from the blue decks, which offer a nice steady diet of $50 payouts and modest penalties. It took on average about 50 cards turned over before the subjects figured out that the blue cards were the way to go.” Here’s the interesting part: They hooked the subjects up to sensors that measure the sweat glands in the palms of their hands. The scientists found that after only 10 cards being turned over, the sensors registered a stress response and the behavior of the card turner began to favor the blue decks 40 cards before the subject was able to say they had a hunch that the blue decks were the way to win the game.
What does this tell us? That the unconscious mind accurately learns far faster than the conscious mind. This doesn’t mean that your first choice is infallible but, if you are really undecided and there is no VERY strong evidence or condition that comes up to change your mind about your first choice, then that is the way to go. And it must be a very strong new piece of information that wasn’t available to you when you made your first choice. Once you make the choice, then PRETEND that Tiger Woods himself is standing by you telling you that you have the right club or have chosen the right line on the putting green.
Commitment is the backdoor method to gaining confidence and defeating doubt for your golf shot.
Now go for it!
Greens and fairways!
I have been known as the Golf Anti-practice expert for some time now. What does that really mean? Well, I’ll tell you in a nutshell that it means that I know that you can improve your game without going to the practice range. That’s really it. I teach folks that most of what they should be doing for game improvement lies in their head. The funny thing is that they know it…and yet they still are fighting the brainwashing that has been programmed over the years into them.
So what I really mean is…you can improve without traditional practice. That is throwing your clubs in the car, driving down to the course or range, and then getting a bucket to beat some balls.
For instance, can you improve your game on the green by indoor golf putting? Of course! The beauty of it is that because it is convenient (it’s in your own living room), you’ll actually do it. How many of us say things like “well, just as soon as that project at work is over, then I’ll get down to the range and work on my game.”
And the projects never end do they? Another one comes up right after the last one and after awhile, you stop making promises to yourself and just live with the lousy scores you’re getting used to.
It doesn’t have to be this way!
Yes, indoor golf putting is not quite the same as putting on a real green, I’ll give you that. But what can we gain from putting on your carpet at home? A lot. Here’s 4 big tips that if you start focusing on, will pay off in big dividends in lower score. And you can do them right in your own home.
1. For starters, whenever possible, inject some pressure into your putting indoors. Make up a game with a friend and put a few bucks on it. You will be training yourself on how to play under pressure. Whether or not you are on carpet or grass makes no difference there.
2. Take some time to putt for fun (not practice) while totally just focusing on keeping your body still. You can and should do this while watching TV. Pay attention to how it feels when you are still and only moving your shoulders. This is valuable no matter what method you use. You always want minimal movement in putting.
3. Get one of those tools that puts a straight line on a golf ball. Work solely on striking the ball and making the ball roll so that the line stays straight as the ball rolls and doesn’t wiggle. Folks, this is huge! If you can do this on your carpet, you can do this on a putting green. And when you do it for real, the ball goes exactly where you aim it. Many folks are totally unaware that they put sidespin on the ball while putting.
4. Hit balls one after the other with this as the goal: I will listen for the ball to go in the cup. I will not look up until the ball is still.
5. Stroke the ball with the non-dominant hand only as a drill. This imbeds a fluid follow through.
How many golfers will actually do this even though it is so easy?
These indoor golf putting tips are so easy and yet so powerful. The problem is, you don’t think that they will pay off. Get that in your mind first and convince yourself. Watch pro putters on TV or live and see that they do these things consistently. Do you?
You can isolate out different aspects of your putting routine at home and indoors to ingrain perfect technique. Then, we you get to the course, you don’t have to think about it, it just happens on auto pilot.
Are you starting to get the picture? Use this kind of idea at home, at your office, anywhere that you can work on your game for just a couple minutes if nothing else. Think out of the box on how you can improve your golf. Many of us are just so busy with our lives and jobs that going down to the range just never happens now does it?
But you can lower your scores anyway.
Greens and fairways,
Have you heard the old saying that we only use 10% of our mind power? Whether it’s 5% or 10% or 20%, you know it’s definitely true as you have experienced times in your life, on and off the course where you have had absolute flashes of brilliance and wondered why you can’t do it all the time…guess what? You can!If you’ve hit a great shot with your clubs just once before, there is absolutely no reason you can’t do it again. What do you do differently when you don’t repeat a great shot? I’ll tell you…you run your mind a certain way that produces those results…simple. Break 80 Without Practice
If you would like to begin to unlock the secrets to the other 90% that you are leaving on the table of your performance, you need to check out:
For golf putting instruction and improvement, Mangrum places good balance as the first consideration in good putting. Keep the feet close together with an Lloyd Mangrum even distribution of weight, bending at the waist so the head is over the ball, but never leaning forward.
Play the ball from the center between the two feet and make sure the backstroke is a slow easy motion, hands working in unison with no turning of the wrists. The cardinal principle of good putting is to keep the wrists from getting into the act.
Golf putting improvement depends on this: The length of the putt should govern the length of the backstroke, and the tempo of the stroke should remain the same throughout: (i.e., the same speed hitting the ball as it was taken back).
Distance of hitting should be learned by practice, although judgment usually has a lot to do with it as well, says Mangrum. Golf Putting improvement is an art which is not easily acquired and can disappear in a flash. It must be wooed constantly.
One thing which separates the pros from the dubs is their preparation for a putt; in other words, the lining-up. This is a painstaking process for most of the experts, in which they attempt to study and analyze every inch of the putt, particularly the long ones.
Length, the various �breaks� over mounds or along them, the texture of the grass and the weather all must be taken into consideration. Though partners may murmur sarcastically about taking all day, Lloyd believes a putt should not be hit until the player is satisfied he knows exactly how he is going to hit it.
He may not achieve what he planned, but his approach to the problem is correct.
Once the stance for a putt has been taken, concentrate on stroking the ball. There is no time to worry about the contour or variation once you are in hitting position and any lingering doubt will ruin the entire operation.
Putting touch will vary and it may be an advantage not only to change style of club but even the posture when you find you can’t seem to putt well. Lloyd Mangrum, deep student of putting, does not hesitate to try something new when his greens play goes awry. Avoid any extreme stance however in your golf putting improvement attempts.
Learn the 80/20 of putting with Break 80 Without Practice