Six Mental Steps to Great Putting

By Golf Fitness MagazineJuly 29, 2009, 4:00 pm
By Dr. Robert K. Winters
Dr. Robert K. Winters works with Jonathan MooreThe Basic Question: Are you Good?
Here is a fact that you may already know: Great putters make putts. I am sure that you are unimpressed with that statement but none the less, it is still true. Great putters make short putts, long putts, uphill and downhill putts, and putts that curve through double-breaks. They make putts for club championships and friendly money wagers, and through it all, make it look easy in the process! Quite simply, great putters make putts on all types of greens and grasses and some even do it on lousy greens and inferior course conditions! The question I am most often asked is: What is the secret to great putting? Where does it originate, is it in the stroke, or is it in the mental attitude of the putter?
 
For instance, when I first start working with a golfer, I always ask the basic question: Are you a good putter? The answers that I have received over the years may astound you! Many of them give me a socially acceptable response and say that they are relatively streaky but that they would like to be more consistent. Almost everyone that I work with is trying to become a better putter. To this day in time, I have yet to meet a golfer who has responded to my initial question with this answer:
 
Well yes, Dr. Bob, I am a good putter. In fact, I am so good on the green that I may have a problem because I am making too many putts. I really need to slow down! Making all of these putts has become a problem!
 
I can honestly say that I havent met anyone with this type of response because everyone either feels that they are not making enough putts or that they want to make more putts! As a sport psychologist and putting researcher, I can say with certainty that great putters think differently about putting from poor putters, and this difference is in their attitude and mental philosophy about the task of putting!
 
Technical skill vs Emotional skill
As a mental coach to some of the games great young stars such as Jonathan Moore, Ryan Blaum, Taylor Leon, Sandra Gal, and Drew Weaver, I happen to believe that the physical task of putting is relatively easy. Almost anyone who can learn to hold a putter squarely and refine their mechanics by sheer practice can become a fairly good putter and start to make putts. In terms of technical proficiency, the putting motion is a simple motion by moving your hands, arms and shoulders back and forth and striking the ball on the center of the putterface. It seems benign enough.
 
But in terms of actual human response, perhaps the most overlooked and difficult part of putting is the psychological devastation that comes with missing and watching the negative picture of the golf ball sliding by the hole. In no other arena of sport do you have the frequency of outcome feedback so honest and objective as you do on the putting green. In essence, you either make the putt, or you miss. Experience enough misses and the negative pictures start to deteriorate your confidence and affect your putting stroke. No wonder putting has been the Achilles heel in so many great players careers!
 
I have provided a list of the six psychological qualities that separate the great putters from the poor putters. These six psychological characteristics are all common to great putters and great putting. I believe that if you can emulate what the great putters do as successful role models, you will find that your putting will improve as well!
 
Dr. Robert K. Winters works with Jonathan Moore
 
The six mental characteristics of great putters are:
1 Great putters keep putting simple
2 Great putters enjoy the task of putting
3 Great putters trust
4 Great putters know that its OK to miss!
5 Great putters have patience
6 Great putters have confidence
Mental Key #1: Keep it Simple!
The first mental characteristic is that great putters keep putting simple. Great putters dont get lost in dealing with their mechanics, even if their mechanics are poor on a certain day, because they realize that the most important thing at the present moment is to get the ball into the hole as swiftly and efficiently as possible! Great putters use their minds to keep the task of putting simple, clear and specific. Their basic mental focus is: Where do I want the ball to go and how hard do I hit the ball to get it there? From a psychological viewpoint, I think this is where the idea of keeping it simple becomes crucial.
 
Now, lets discuss these characteristics and see how your putting can benefit from implementing them into your golf game!
 
Mental Key #2: Learn to Enjoy the Process of Putting!
The second mental characteristic is that great putters enjoy putting. I often hear golfers talk on the practice green about how putting is boring and they dislike the idea of putting altogether. These players make the entire activity of putting work instead of a challenging or enjoyable activity! In reality, by choosing to comment on how much they dread putting and view it from a negative mindset, they never give themselves a chance to see how good a putter they can be! In turn, their self-limiting mindsets hold them back from ever achieving any putting greatness!
 
It comes down to the simple notion of changing your attitude about putting. Once you can change your attitude and view putting as a joyful event and start to appreciate the value of practicing putting, the more success youll have on the greens.
 
Mental Key #3: Great Putters Trust!
The third vital characteristic of great putters is that they trust. Great putters trust their mechanics, their stroke, their read of the green, their touch and feel, and most importantly they trust their putting talent. Great putters totally trust that everything is going to work out well and that the ball is going to drop into the hole. Great putters continue to trust even more when the ball fails to drop. They understand that by allowing themselves to totally trust in their putting ability, they gain more control by letting go of the overcontrolling tendencies of trying to force or coerce the ball into the hole. Trust is the letting go of trying hard to force the ball into the hole. Great putters have learned that by allowing themselves to trust also allows them to putt their best. You should do this as well!
 
Mental Key #4: Its OK to Miss!
The fourth mental characteristic of great putters is that they know its OK to miss! Solheim Cup Captain and LPGA golfer Helen Alfreddson once offered a great piece of wisdom about putting in a book that I co-authored, entitled The Mental Art of Putting. Helen stated: I know that I am going to miss some putts, but I am going to miss them by trying to make them! I believe what Helen suggests here is what is referred to in American basketball as a shooters mentality. That is, in basketball when a great shooter such as Michael Jordan shoots and misses and goes 0 for 6, does he stop shooting? Absolutely not! He reminds himself that he may go 12 for 12 starting on the very next shot.
 
Thus, a series of misses doesnt detract his focus on the job of making baskets. Great putters think in this same way. When they miss, they dont have time to fear the results. They are merely getting themselves ready for the next putt and to have success. Thus, a great putter has a shooters mentality that doesnt fear missing. Missing for a great putter is OK because they know that if they just keep putting, they are going to make a lot of putts. So, the next time you have a series of misses, forget about the lost opportunities, and get into the next putt with a shooters mentality to make the next one! Remember, in order for a hot streak to occur, it only takes one holed putt to get it going!
 
Mental Key #5: Developing Patience on the Green
The fifth characteristic of great putters is that they have patience. Patience on the putting green means that you can accept a miss as a putt that had a chance to go in, but stayed out. Patience can be viewed as a form of putting confidence that says If I keep on doing the same good things with my putting today, sooner or later they will start to drop. Patience is the characteristic that suggests that good things will happen if a player stays on task, doesnt become distracted, frustrated or angry, and that by staying in the process of focusing on making putts, will ultimately lead to success.
 
Mental Key #6: Putting is about Confidence!
The sixth and final characteristic of all great putters is that they have confidence. A great putter looks forward to the opportunity of making putts, versus the opportunity to fail. The difference between the two ways of thinking is all about attitude. Confidence on the putting green is a learned skill that starts by developing a positive putting attitude for success. Putting confidence is simply the mental and emotional glue that provides a player the belief that they will make a putt even before they step into and address the ball. Great putters know theyre good and they allow themselves every opportunity to prove their putting talent each time they putt.
 
A key point: Confident putters do not allow negative outcomes to affect their confidence because they know that they are giving their best effort into each and every roll and that it is only a matter of time until success arrives.
 
A Final Word
Great putters know that confidence is vital and they do everything they can to develop, sustain, and enhance their belief system. You must do the same and start to use these six mental keys to provide you with a foundation for creating enduring putting success! Remember, great putting is more about attitude and conviction that it is about pure stroke mechanics. So, start to create an attitude that provides you with a foundation for seeing how great a putter you can be. If you do, I am certain that you will be finding your ball at the bottom of the cup more often! I will see you on the fairways!
 
Dr. Robert K. Winters, is an internationally renowned sport psychologist who works with competitive golfers from around the world. He is a GFM Advisory Team Member. To learn more about Dr. Winters, log onto www.golffitnessmagazine.com/advisoryteam.
 

EDITORS NOTE: Golf Fitness Magazine is the only national consumer publication dedicated to golf-specific fitness, mental focus, and improving ability, performance and health among all golfers. Our priority is to maximize your potential, lower your scores, reduce your risk of injury, and extend your golfing years. Each issue has departments dedicated to men, women, seniors, and juniors along with tips, advice and simple exercise routines from GFMs team of experts. If you want to improve your golf game, and hit the ball farther, click here for special offers on a subscription so you can have all this and more in-depth advice delivered right to you! Get cutting edge fitness & mental tips sent to your inbox each month with our FREE golf performance eNewsletter, Shape Your Game. To contact our Senior Editor, Publisher or Online Editor with questions or comments, please visit our web site golffitnessmagazine.com for more information.
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Lincicome grouped with two rookies in Barbasol

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 9:54 pm

Brittany Lincicome will tee it up with a pair of rookies when she makes her first start in a PGA Tour event Thursday at the Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, is scheduled to go off the 10th tee at 9:59 a.m. ET in the first round with Sam Ryder, 28, and Conrad Shindler, 29. They’re off the first tee Friday at 2:59 p.m. ET

Lincicome will become just the sixth woman to play in a PGA Tour event, joining Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie.

“The first three or four holes, I’ll be a nervous wreck, for sure,” Linicome said.

 

 

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Lincicome thrilled by reception from male pros

By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 8:31 pm

Brittany Lincicome wondered how PGA Tour pros would greet her when she arrived to play the Barbasol Championship this week.

She wondered if there would be resentment.

She also wondered how fans at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky., would receive her, and if a social media mob would take up pitchforks.

“I can’t stop smiling,” Lincicome said Tuesday after her first practice round upon arriving. “Everyone has been coming up to me and wishing me luck. That means a lot.”

PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, husband of LPGA pro Gerina Piller, welcomed her immediately.

Other pros sought her out on the practice putting green.

She said she was also welcomed joining pros at a table in player dining.

Fans have been stopping her for autographs.

“It has been an awesome reception,” said Dewald Gouws, her husband, a former long-drive competitor. “I think it’s put her much more at ease, seeing the reception she is getting. There’s a lot of mutual respect.”

Lincicome, 32, wasn’t sure if she would be playing a practice round alone Tuesday morning, but when she made her way to the first tee, Domenico Geminiani was there, just about to go off.

He waved Lincicome over.

“He said, `Hey, Brittany, do you want to join me?’” Gouws said. “Come to find out, Dom’s a pretty cool guy.”

Geminiani made it into the field as a Monday qualifier.

“The two of us were both trying to figure things out together,” Lincicome said.

Keene Trace will play to 7,328 yards on the scorecard. That’s more than 800 yards longer than Highland Meadows, where Lincicome finished second at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic last weekend. Keene Trace was playing even longer than its listed yardage Tuesday, with recent rains softening it.

Nicknamed “Bam Bam,” Lincicome is one of the longest hitters in the women’s game. Her 269.5 yard average drive is 10th in the LPGA ranks. It would likely be dead last on the PGA Tour, where Brian Stuard (278.2) is the last player on the stats list at No. 201.

“I think if I keep it in the fairway, I’ll be all right,” Lincicome said.

Lincicome is an eight-time LPGA winner, with two major championships among those titles. She is just the sixth woman to compete in a PGA Tour event, the first in a decade, since Michelle Wie played the Reno-Tahoe Open, the last of her eight starts against the men.

Lincicome will join Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Wie in the elite ranks.

Zaharias, by the way, is the only woman to make a 36-hole cut in PGA Tour history, making it at the 1945 L.A. Open before missing a 54-hole cut on the weekend.

What are Lincicome’s expectations?

She would love to make the cut, but . . .

“Just going to roll with it and see what happens,” she said. “This is once in a lifetime, probably a one-and-done opportunity. I’m just going to enjoy it.”

Lincicome grew up playing for the boys’ golf team at Seminole High on the west coast of Florida. She won a couple city championships.

“I always thought it would be cool to compete against the guys on the PGA Tour,” Lincicome said. “I tend to play more with the guys than women at home. I never would have gone out and told my agent, `Let’s go try to play in a PGA Tour event,’ but when Tom Murray called with this opportunity, I was really blown away and excited by it. I never in a million years thought I would have this opportunity.”

Tom Murray, the president of Perio, the parent company of Barbasol and Pure Silk, invited Lincicome to accept one of the tournament’s sponsor exemptions. Lincicome represents Pure Silk.

Lincicome said her desire to play a PGA Tour event is all about satisfying her curiosity, wanting to know how she would stack up at this level. She also wants to see if the experience can help take her to the next level in the women’s game.

As a girl growing up, she played Little League with the boys, instead of softball with the girls. She said playing the boys in golf at Seminole High helped her get where she is today.

“The guys were better, and it pushed me to want to be better,” Lincicome said. “I think playing with the guys [on the PGA Tour], I will learn something to take to LPGA events, and it will help my game, for sure.”

Lincicome has been pleased that her fellow LPGA pros are so supportive. LPGA winner Kris Tamulis is flying into Kentucky as moral support. Other LPGA pros may also be coming in to support her.

The warm fan reception Lincicome is already getting at Keene Trace matters, too.

“She’s already picked up some new fans this week, and hopefully she will pick up some more,” Gouws said. “I don’t think she’s putting too much expectation on herself. I think she really does just want to have fun.”

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Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown

By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 4:00 pm

There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.

Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.

She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.

It’s a stunner given the importance the LPGA has placed on taking the UL International Crown to South Korea and its golf-crazy allegiance to the women’s game in the Crown’s first staging outside the United States.

Two-time major champion In Gee Chun will replace Park.

"It was my pleasure and honor to participate in the first UL International Crown in 2014 and at the 2016 Olympics, and I cannot describe in one word how amazing the atmosphere was to compete as a representative of my country,” Park said. “There are so many gifted and talented players in Korea, and I thought it would be great if one of the other players was given the chance to experience the 2018 UL International Crown.”

Chun, another immensely popular player in South Korea, was the third alternate, so to speak, with the world rankings used to field teams. Hye Jin Choi and Jin Young Ko were higher ranked than Chun but passed because of commitments made to competing in a Korean LPGA major that week. The other South Koreans who previously qualified are So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim.

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Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

“I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

“It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

“All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”