Half of all strokes taken to achieve par over 18 holes are figured to be taken in putting mode. That’s right, golf holes are designed for you to get the ball into the hole with just two putts on average. Sure makes things sound a little easier, doesn’t it? You don’t really have to worry that much about sinking that first putt on every single hole.
Understanding that should help to relieve some of the mental pressure you see so often exhibited on the golf course every Sunday. Many everyday golfers agonize over every single putt [especially that first one] like a million dollars was riding on it! The mental pressure becomes enormous and 3 and 4 putting every green becomes the norm.
Instead, always remember that you always have that 2nd putt in your back pocket to achieve par.
And to further reinforce your confidence on each first putt, imagine that the hole is actually 3 feet in diameter! Think about it. If you can leave your first putt inside that imaginary 3 foot hole, you will only be 16 inches away from the edge of the real hole. A second putt of only a foot and a half or less! Can you make that?
So, if your putt is within 10 to 15 feet of the hole and has little or no break, you should focus on getting down in two. That’s all!
And if your putt is beyond 15 feet, don’t get in the habit of examining each and every first putt from all directions, using the putter like a plumb-bob and closing one eye, looking and agonizing over every twist, turn and break. Remember that you have that second putt. Take one good look at the putting line from behind the ball, another look from the other of the hole – then make your decision and putt. Agonizing and analyzing over it time and again will not produce better results. Usually the first impression of how the putt will break and how hard you need to strike the ball is the right one. Trust your instincts and go through your putting routine with confidence rather than doubt. If you take too long and spend it worrying, you will become tighter and tighter and putting that way is a sure path to a higher score.
And don’t really worry too much on that first putt about it going to far to the left or too far to the right. That usually doesn’t happen. Watch when other people putt and you will see that they are more likely to leave it too short or way past the hole rather than knocking it too far left or right of the hole. With that thought in mind, be more conscious of the speed and length of the putt. Get it into that 3 foot circle, on any side of the hole, and you will be within that short 16 inches of the edge of the cup!
Remember that you don’t have to hole every first putt you have. Get down in two and you will score well because you are no longer three or four putting on every hole.
Who knows, maybe you get a few breaks and drop a few of those first putts! Now your score will really start to drop.