Prime-Time Putting

Here’s how to roll them in when it mat­ters most

Golf Digest Middle East - - Play - butch har­mon is a Golf Di­gest Teach­ing Pro­fes­sional.

We all know play­ers who seem to al­ways get it done un­der pres­sure. More likely, they just look good by com­par­i­son with the golfers around them who are col­laps­ing. Putting seems to ex­ag­ger­ate this phe­nom­e­non. When that putt on the last hole falls or doesn’t, the player’s rep­u­ta­tion on the greens is set for life.

But you can do some­thing to boost your chance of putting well in stress­ful sit­u­a­tions. De­velop a pre-putt rou­tine, and stick to it no mat­ter what’s on the line. I don’t care if you take one prac­tice stroke, two or none. I don’t care if you look at the hole once, twice, three times—what­ever. The key is do­ing what feels right to you when there’s no pres­sure, and then do­ing it the same when there is. That’s a good rou­tine.

Tiger is the best pres­sure put­ter I’ve ever seen, and his rou­tine is un­wa­ver­ing. You can put a stop­watch on him on the first green and the last, and he’ll take the same amount of time do­ing the same things.

Most golfers tend to slow down when they get ner­vous. Yes, there are those who speed up to get it over with, but most take ex­tra prac­tice strokes, ex­tra looks at the hole, more time read­ing the green or just stand­ing over the ball. It might feel like you’re as­sert­ing more con­trol, but you’re only giv­ing your­self time to sec­ond-guess.

I can’t tell you the per­fect rou­tine for you, but I can tell you what works for me. I take one prac­tice stroke, long and loose to re­lieve ten­sion, then I aim the put­ter­face pre­cisely down my start­ing line. Once I have the face in po­si­tion, I build the rest of my setup around that. Fi­nally, I take one look down the line, then go. I’m a con­fi­dent put­ter, and my rou­tine has a lot to do with that.

Go out and ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent rou­tines, and see what feels com­fort­able. Then work to make it part of your game. You’ll hole more clutch putts.

“Be like Tiger: Beat pres­sure with a re­lent­less rou­tine.”

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