Putting with Rhythm Under Pressure
Guest author: Matt Mascarenas from TruGolf
Some people say that the difference between a good golfer and a great golfer is how they perform under pressure. The difference between putting on the practice green after work and lining up on the 18th green in an important game is huge. You may think that doesn’t apply to everyone—that top pros don’t get rattled. That’s not true. The pros get nervous, too. They just handle it better than most of us. They also employ a few techniques to beat the stress.
Your body betrays you in a number of ways when it’s time to putt in a high-pressure situation. As you tense up, your grip tightens. Many golfers hurry their shot without even realizing they’re doing it. Instead of a nice, smooth stroke, stressed golfers will draw the putter back slowly and then jab at the ball with it. Stress also causes us to hit the ball tentatively, resulting in short shots.
What Can I Do?
- Clear any debris on the green between the hole and your ball. Obviously, you don’t want a stick or a leaf to knock your ball off course. This simple task can serve another purpose, as well. It gives you a few seconds to breathe and gather yourself before you prepare for your shot.
- Relax. It can be difficult to simply tell your body to relax and your mind to stop racing in a tense situation. Try to remove yourself, mentally, from the situation by picturing yourself on the practice green. The same putt that’s easy on the practice green is just as easy in a game, you just need to take yourself out of the moment and calm down.
- Slow down. You may be rushing your shot and not even realize you’re doing it. Before every putt, stop and take a deep breath. You should have a pre-shot routine, as well. This is just a series of movements you perform before a shot to get you relaxed and focused. Now that you’re relaxed and ready, it’s time to swing.
- Focus on your fundamentals. Don’t let your wrists hinge, don’t let your head come up too soon, stay in control of your swing, and breathe.
- Practice, practice, practice. There’s no substitute for practice, and no trick to get good at golf without it. If you’re serious about improving your game, you need to put in a LOT of time at the range and on the course. Try to practice year-round. There are ways to work on your game in the winter, too. Indoor driving ranges and golf simulators can keep you ahead of the curve in the winter, too. Indoor driving ranges and golf simulators can keep you ahead of the curve in the off-season. You need to work on EVERY aspect of your game — don’t just head to the range and work on your drive day in and day out. Driving is important, but there are many aspects to the game of golf, and there are techniques that are specific to each. One thing that many golfers fail to practice is their mental game. However, the psychological aspect of golf is a huge part of the game. So, practice, practice, and practice some more.
One of the most difficult aspects of golf is managing your nerves. You have a lot of time to think during a game, and all that thinking can get you into trouble as you heap stress and worry onto your shoulders. There are ways to eliminate this stress, however, so you perform your best when it matters most. A few easy tricks (and a few not-so-easy ones) can bring your game to the next level and turn a potential choke into a victory.
Bio Matt Mascarenas is an avid golf enthusiast and part of the TruGolf.com team. When he’s not working on his fairway shot, you will find Matt writing about his passion for the process of the game.