Nicola Stroud, Head Teaching Professional at Burnham & Berrow Golf Club gives you a drill to improve your putting under pressure.
I regularly hear students say to me:
“I putt really well on the practice green but can’t seem to do it on the course!”
Now, we all know that this is because there’s no pressure on the practice green so therefore our inner golf demon is quiet and calm, it’s not making us question our alignment, feel or rhythm…
So, how do we ensure we calm the inner golf demon?
The best way to beat the demon is by building a wall around our processes so that we are so engrossed in our actions we don’t have any space for ‘self-chatter’ or unnecessary, unhelpful or self-sabotaging thoughts.
This is a tried and tested practical drill that I encourage all my students to do, and the results are excellent, however, you must be committed to not cheating and staying until you achieve the drills otherwise you fail to practice under pressure and therefore fail to achieve the reason for the drill.
Putting Drill: Practising putting under pressure
I recommend you do this drill only on your training day or after you have played.
Firstly, mark out 2ft to 6ft from the hole distances using tees every 1 foot (a flat lie is best). See photo. Then with 5 balls, set your goals for each distance, your goal is how many of the 5 balls would you expect to sink from that distance/stage, for example:
2-foot stage = all 5 balls
3-foot stage = all 5 balls
4-foot stage = 4 of 5 balls
5-foot stage = 3 of 5 balls
6-foot stage = 2 of 5 balls
Like all goals, make sure they are realistic and achievable. You can always increase your level but to decrease, if you consistently don’t achieve your goal, will only further highlight your insecurities and pressures that you place on yourself and lead to more self-sabotaging.
Start at the 2-foot stage and when you achieve your goal, move on to the next stage. However, if you do not achieve the next stage, then you must return to the beginning and start all over again. Don’t leave until you reach the final stage at 6-foot.
The more you do this drill, the better your self-awareness will become and you will start to discover patterns or consistent errors in your putting, for example: always missing to the left, hitting the ball too firm so it “lips out”, steering the ball, etc.
With better self-awareness comes the ability to discover routines that are reliable and able to help reduce consistent errors. Your routine will become so reliable and that you will have a solid mental wall around you and you will be less likely to self-sabotage, or at least be more acutely aware of your self-sabotaging behaviour and lean on your routines to overcome them before they take hold.
Words by Nicola Stroud
In the third of her Mental Game Series Nicola Stroud talked about staying calm on the golf course when things start to go wrong - read the full article.