Every golfer feels that short putts should be very easy and that every single one we face should go in the hole.
Unfortunately, this is not the case and a close look at the PGA tour stats back that up with a third of all putts being missed from six feet. The best players in the world miss three to four out of 10 putts from this range which means that the average amateur with an 18 handicap is looking to miss at least six out of 10 putts from six feet. This is the first lesson in holing short putts - understand your chances. Use this information to control your emotions and not get yourself into a state where you think "I should make this putt and I cannot putt if I don't." Yes it is frustrating but chances are you will miss that six foot putt. However, having said this, holing short putts like the pro's is not just a change in technique, a small change in focus can make a big difference in improving your chances of holing a shot putt. Here's how.
The key to controlling your focus on a putt is to organize your thoughts and develop a routine of focus control. This is possible by adapting a three zone process.
1. Zone number one - The think zone
This is the cognitive zone where we make all of our decisions. Here we study the putt, walk around it and choose our line. After we have chosen our line, we commit to it and line the markings on the golf ball up with the line we have chosen.
2. Zone number two - The feel zone
This is the Kinaesthetic zone where we judge the feel of the putt and decide how far and how hard the ball needs hitting. Once we have committed to a line in the first zone we stand over the putt, take some practice swings and imagine hitting the putt to the hole. Does the swing need to be shorter or longer? Can I hear and see the putt going in? Lastly, in this zone we relax, loosening the fingers in the grip and breathing deeply.
3. Zone number three - The play zone
This is the execution zone. Now we have committed to a line and felt the distance, it is time to pull the trigger. This zone happens fairly quickly because the key to being successful here is to not let yourself think about what you are doing. In effect we have done the hard work and we are trying not to get in the way of ourselves by second guessing what we have decided and letting doubt creep in. Once you have taken your practice swings and got the feel of the putt, step into the golf ball, line the putter head up, take one look at the hole and pull the trigger. This zone should take no more than a few seconds which will feel rushed at first but as you do it more, will become perfectly natural.
Organizing yourself with these three zones will allow you to focus on short putts with much more clarity, reduce pressure and enable you to hole out more often from short range.