The Practice Green – Friend or Foe?

This problem resonates from there being one underpinning factor; that a long putt is an approach putt. There is NO such thing in golf, or in any other sport, as attempting to miss! A true winner has no concept of an “approach putt”. If you do, then you have already set yourself up in a defeatist mind-state.

“The player that gets around the course in the least number of shots is the best paid” – Tony Bennett, PGA Master Professional.

“When a basket ball player goes for a jump-shot their goal is never to just hit the backboard or hit the rim, but to get the ball through the hoop.” Dr Bob Rotella – Putt to Win.

When Seve was asked his thoughts on the many astonishing recovery shots he has produced in his career he answered; “as long as I can see the hole, my aim is to get it in it”.

These quotes have shown you that the aim of golf is to get the ball in the hole in the least amounts of shots, so why attempt not to? If you wish to be successful you must ‘play to win’ and for starters if you attempt to get the ball in the hole every time you putt or chip you will play better golf. First of all the ball will always be closer to the hole even if you do happen to miss. And, if it does go in, then your goal is achieved.

You are now most likely thinking, in order to counteract this effect “if I try to hole it there’s a chance that I might miss, the ball blasts past the hole, leaving myself a tricky return putt”. Again, you are simply placing yourself in a defeatist mind-set. Sports Scientists have for some years now understood the concept of developing visualisation as a means of governing our execution. Our movements tend to follow our visualisations, so it is important to imagine that ball going into the hole.

Secondly, there’s an interesting paradox that governs how the ball ends up in the Hole. For some time we have been told to measure the pace or weight of our putts to finish approximately 17 inches past the hole. This concept has now been challenged by recent scientific evidence which, together with a good old fashioned side order of Newton’s Laws comes into effect to create a new approach now being adopted by the very best putters on Tour. It’s “mind blowingly” simple:

A ball that skims the hole at the 17 inches pace has absolutely no chance of dropping in. Conversely, the ball travelling at ‘dead-weight’ pace has greater chance of falling into the hole.

And, if you miss read the direction, then the next putt is a simple tap-in. From this you can quickly deduce the fact that for the “dead weight” the hole is actually larger!…both physically and in the Minds Eye.

These are some of the skills and drills we teach in our Break Academy, but if you are still unsure as to why you are leaving putts short then it can be for one of the following reasons:

1. It is because you see a problem before you even attempt the putt

2. You have problems with your pace control on the greens.

There are many different tried and tested techniques to help improve your pace control BUT what if I told you that if you stood directly behind the ball looking towards the hole your mind instinctively knows exactly how far the ball is away from hole AND further more how much it needs to exert itself to get the ball there.

It is only your conscious self that is clouding this judgement. You and ONLY YOU create the self doubt in the target. In so doing, you fool yourself into a state of mind that there’s “more to this putt than meets the eye”. The resulting layer upon layer of misjudgement and compensations feed the process of mistrust…And, at the critical point when you execute the putt your mind is so muddled that you’re completely disconnected from your more powerful subconscious “Flow State”, sometimes referred to as the Zone.

This exasperating train of thoughts is the most common cause of over-compensation and failure in all levels of golfer. Have you ever heard of the term ‘letting go’ and/or seen Bob Rotella’s ‘look and go’ putting drill where you take a quick glance at the hole and then putt, attempting to leave any conscious analysis out of it and just flow. While some comment that a player misses an important putt due to a loss in concentration, we prefer to keep ALL conscious forms of concentration out of the execution; instead just let it happen. The putting stroke is incredibly simple. Do not let anyone convince you otherwise. This is exactly what every golfer needs to attempt to achieve you must trust in your first and probably most accurate interpretation and just do it. This is not just a problem seen on the greens but throughout the whole game.

If you do feel yourself over-analysing and your mind is flying from one thought to another while over the ball; be it a putt, a chip or an iron shot… just step away from the ball and re-set. Remember, if it does not feel right then you cannot fully commit. This way you will establish strong convictions in your ability to control the situation. If you are able to do this then you will feel a lot more confident in your golf and in yourself.

In the future these articles will aim to expand on this subject in more detail; aiming to change how you define yourself as a ‘putter’ because how you see yourself is how you will be; in putting, in other parts of your game and in life. Being negative or pessimistic about your putting will not help you putt well and indeed will only serve to undermine your self-belief and confidence. By working on believing that you can hole every putt you will become more confident in yourself which in turn will lead to you enjoying your golf a whole lot more.

My passing thought. Take a quick look at what the current range of practice and training aids have to offer you. There’s a distinct theme. Most tend to make the task harder. For some of us this can have the effect of adding pressure which tests our skills; the rationale being that is we can undertake a more difficult task on the practice ground then it should be a piece of cake on the Course? For me, putting is the part of the game where the Brain gets the closest to the Ball, so there’s still something missing in the process.

Ask yourself the question: Do we “Think” better under pressure? Does repetitive failure enhance our feelings of confidence? In my work I have the privilege to witness at close hand the very best golfers in the world. Some have more putters and practice gizmo’s than hot diners. In a few notable cases they spend hours trying to perfect their putting; endlessly hitting the exact same putt, after putt after putt, until the sun goes down. I remain convinced there is still no evidence that “practice makes perfect”. What is more likely the case is that “Practice makes Permanent”.

Yes, there are some great putters that work hard on their practice, but they have one thing that sticks out which I believe is the key and something I hope you take away from this message…They do not Confuse movement with Action.

“Golf is Game with an Aim. Know your Target like Yourself” Zen Golfer.

I have produced a sample of 4 Zen Drills on a DVD which are great for helping you to acquire the precise tempo and movements as well as giving you the actual feedback and “feelings” on every aspect of your putting stroke. Remember, the Zen Oracle is the ONLY putter that is guaranteed to improve your stroke.

‘Practise makes permanent make yours perfect!’

Here is an invaluable tool to help with you putting – "FREE REPORT" – "The Definitive Guide to putting"

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