Confidence on the greens can be fickle, to say the least. Sometimes, all it takes is one missed putt – typically from close range -- to send one’s self-belief plummeting.
Next thing you know, you’re trying to wish the ball into the hole, rather than making it happen. The stroke becomes tentative. You try to steer the ball on line, and lift the head early in hopes of seeing it drop. These faulty moves cause deadly deceleration, unwanted hand action and destructive upper body motion, making the problem that much worse.
You must nip this pattern in the bud before it takes root. If you feel your confidence slipping after a miss, don’t start analyzing every inch of your stroke. Instead, check your fundamentals – that’s usually where the issue lies.
- Alignment: Take the time to position the ball’s alignment aid precisely with your intended line, then place the putter so its alignment guide matches the ball’s. Take a quick glance at the hole, but focus intently on stroking the ball on the chosen path.
- Ball position: This can vary from golfer to golf, but in general, placing the ball slightly forward of the center of your stance (toward the left foot, for right-handers) works best. If you’ve got it too far forward, you’ll tend to pull putts. Too far back and you’ll push the ball.
- Head movement: It’s imperative to keep your head still throughout the stroke. On short putts, wait for the sound of the ball dropping into the cup before looking up. From farther out, count to 2 or 3 seconds before peeking.
Stroke length: On putts of less than 5 feet, think short and sweet. If the back-stroke is too long, you’ll decelerate at impact and pull the ball. Practice making a minimal back-stroke, then exaggerate the follow-through so that it’s much longer.
Use the same motion on your actual attempt.