Having a good, consistent pre-putt routine is absolutely crucial if you want to become a great putter and either start holing some putts or begin holing more.
Consistent, good players are like that because they use a consistent and good pre-shot routine before every shot, including their pre-putt routine. Having a good pre-shot, or pre-putt routine, will help you relax, focus better, instil confidence and help you perform better.
The first thing to work on in your pre-putt routine is to read the green. Start doing this as you approach the green. Notice the general feel of the green, which way it generally tilts, how it feels under foot as you walk on it – hard or spongey, etc. Just let your eyes observe the situation you are facing with the putt as you walk over to it.
Now mark the ball. Pick the ball up, clean it and then crouch down directly behind the ball and the hole to read the green. Let your eyes look at the surface between the ball and the hole, notice how the ground tilts and imagine how the ball will react as it rolls over green towards the hole. If you are facing a putt on a slope, read the green up the hill rather than down it, as you always get a truer read up the slope. Once you have decided on the line of the putt, replace the ball and align the arrow, name, or line you have drawn on the ball to the target line.
Stand directly behind the ball and hole again and visualize the line of the putt in a very vivid colour so that it stands out from the green, allowing you to clearly picture it. Imagine the ball rolling along this line towards the hole and finishing in the hole. Each time you do this visualize that the line sinks into the ground creating a channel from the ball into the hole and that the ball will travel along this, unable to escape.
Practice the stroke that you are going to use to play the putt with. Visualize the roll of the ball as you do this and look at the line of the putt down to the hole.
Aim the putter face down the initial line that you want to hit the putt along. Align your feet and take your stance up. Work on being calm and relaxed throughout these steps by breathing slowly and deeply.
Following a routine allows you to block out distraction and doubt, helping you to focus better on the task at hand - getting the ball into the hole. Thoughts such as “don’t miss right” or “don’t leave it short” do not help you achieve what is required, to get the ball into the hole.
Take one last look along the target line and at the hole and when you return your eyes to the ball, make your putting stroke. Following this routine will help to create a positive, confident mind set, that is focused on holing the putt and achieving that task. The simpler you keep your routine, the more successful you will become.