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Putting - Negative Thoughts


Emmitsburg
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Have been playing for over 40 years. Putting has always been the weakest part of my game. Back in the day, when I was a mid-single handicaper I could shoot mid 70's with no birdies. Have tried all aids. I start out every round with a positive attitude. Roll putts very well on practice green. Get on the course and 40 years of negative thoughts cause constant missed opportunities. I keep track of the "reasonable" putts that could/should have dropped. Count them up and take 50% of those as not all can be expected to go in. At the end of the round I come up with easily 2-4 strokes lost due to putting. Any suggestions of how to get 40+ years of demons out of my head?!?!?

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What do you consider reasonable putts?

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2 hours ago, Emmitsburg said:

I keep track of the "reasonable" putts that could/should have dropped. Count them up and take 50% of those as not all can be expected to go in.

The 50/50 point for PGA tour players is 8 feet, based on Strokes Gained numbers.  So if you're looking at the range of maybe 6 to 10 feet, you're really unlikely to make half of them, you're not as good as a PGA Tour player.  If you're looking at a longer range, you're absolutely certain to fail.  If you're going to evaluate anything at all, make sure you "standard" is reasonable. 

But looking at statistics is something to do after the round is over, not while its going on.  As @chisag suggests, you have to force yourself to think of the positive things.  Make your read, and trust it.  Evaluate the speed that goes with that read, and then trust them together.  Then set up and hit your line, at the speed you selected.  THEN evaluate, did you read it wrong, hit it too hard, miss your line?  Paying attention to lost strokes is defeatist.  Paying attention to what caused you to miss putts can lead you to improve the right things.  There are drills to improve your alignment and stroke, there are drills to improve your distance control, you can learn new ways to read greens.  And remember, you can hit great putts that don't go in.  If you miss the hole from 4 feet, its a poor putt.  If you lip out from 10 feet, its a dang good putt.

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“….The only thing you can do about negative thoughts is replace them with positive thoughts….”

^This statement holds the secrets.

Approach a putt with positivity and try to make every one as a lag is like finishing second. Not bad but not the goal.

 

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On 8/5/2022 at 1:01 PM, Emmitsburg said:

Have been playing for over 40 years. Putting has always been the weakest part of my game. Back in the day, when I was a mid-single handicaper I could shoot mid 70's with no birdies. Have tried all aids. I start out every round with a positive attitude. Roll putts very well on practice green. Get on the course and 40 years of negative thoughts cause constant missed opportunities. I keep track of the "reasonable" putts that could/should have dropped. Count them up and take 50% of those as not all can be expected to go in. At the end of the round I come up with easily 2-4 strokes lost due to putting. Any suggestions of how to get 40+ years of demons out of my head?!?!?

The book "The Lost Art of Putting" should move to the top of your reading list.  It spot on dresses the very issue you bring up.  

 

The first part of the book addresses the concept of "changing your story."  You gave us your story in the post, you've been a bad putter for 40 years.  Positive thoughts alone won't work; after all, you start out with optimism and a positive attitude.  I you don't change your story, you won't improve.  Sorry.  Read the book. It has a lot of good advice.  it is not a "how to" or technical book. 

 

 

 

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putting became a joy for me, when I started to envision rotating my trunk about my spine. i no longer worry about mishits or missing my intended line. if I do, it’s a mistake, that I make a couple times a round. I know the bad hits are coming, but i don’t know when, and I just don’t care. they can happen on the first or the last hole. an eagle putt or a bogey putt. in the decade system, of which I’m all of 3 weeks into, scott says to stop trying to make putts. since I put that into my brain, I care even less. i get into a meditative state. I’m not religious, but I try to “become the buddah” and let the world slip away except for the green my intended line and intended speed. I lose myself in the moment so much that I often have trouble remembering my score on that hole. Of course, that could be the cannabis messing with my short term memory. either way, for me, a nervous figgity overthinker, it works.   

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Reasonable confidence is essential to putting, and it’s apparent you don’t have that at present - although the practice green isn’t the same as on course. Is there a typical miss? To make putts you have to a) read greens, b) get pace right and c) start the ball on your intended line. Most people I know usually miss breaking putts low (green reading) and don’t seem to realize the pattern. Many people I know will be chronically long or short on a given day/course (pace). Many people I know tend to pull or push, one or the other (face delivery/alignment). I’d start there. If misses are totally random, still might be green reading - but maybe the book above would help? Best of luck.

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  • 2 weeks later...

No more negative putting thoughts! I have broken down my putts into 3 categories. Poor line, poor pace or good putt. In all cases walking off the green I feel good knowing I can fix the line or pace. And even if the putt stops on the lip, it was a good putt. No longer keeping track of the lost opportunities on the greens!

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1 hour ago, Emmitsburg said:

No more negative putting thoughts! I have broken down my putts into 3 categories. Poor line, poor pace or good putt. In all cases walking off the green I feel good knowing I can fix the line or pace. And even if the putt stops on the lip, it was a good putt. No longer keeping track of the lost opportunities on the greens!

Listen to this podcast about conscious v non-conscious thoughts during the swing … works for the putter swing as well. Sounds dumb, but I’ve had great success with driver by singing in my head, during my backswing & transition. Not for tempo, but for a non-conscious swing … singing is my way of clearing my thoughts. Works cuz I always have a song stuck in my head … why fight it … use it. I recently began using it for my putting stroke as well. My read has sucked lately, but pace & distance is better.

 

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Stop putting in the hole on practice green. Get your speed and break read dialed. Find a flat putt from big toe to big toe, little toe to little toe. Lag putt back to your bag or where you left your wedges or the fringe towards your cart. My course is faster on practice green then on course and with more break. Get out of your head and onto improving by looking at what's next. Have you ever walked and tripped a bit and tripped again after(while not inebriated)? Because you subconsciously thought of your next step and not the the one way back that you stumbled on. Hang out in the clubhouse until you can tee off alone in between slow groups. I carry two balls and drop to re-hit when I really want a miracle shot to work(mostly crazy fades). You are a miracle, believe in your next stroke. I haven't two putted in 3 weeks, haven't played in four weeks, when I go out Friday I know I haven't missed a putt since July though putting is not any concern for me.(my apologies) Feel free to criticize, I'm on meds for that too! Please create a routine and stick it everytime. I take longer lining up recently but don't hold up the game due to makes and tap ins. Also have you bellied a ball with a wedge leading edge? It creates great roll, direction, and speed control. The leading edge of a hovering 60° will make a pro of you, at least a quasi-pro mid single digit am!

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On 8/5/2022 at 2:01 PM, Emmitsburg said:

Have been playing for over 40 years. Putting has always been the weakest part of my game. Back in the day, when I was a mid-single handicaper I could shoot mid 70's with no birdies. Have tried all aids. I start out every round with a positive attitude. Roll putts very well on practice green. Get on the course and 40 years of negative thoughts cause constant missed opportunities. I keep track of the "reasonable" putts that could/should have dropped. Count them up and take 50% of those as not all can be expected to go in. At the end of the round I come up with easily 2-4 strokes lost due to putting. Any suggestions of how to get 40+ years of demons out of my head?!?!?

This is me. I’ll shoot mid 70’s without a birdie. Some days it really frustrates me, other I just look at as “I’m a great ball striker and I can’t have it all.” Strangely, I always think I’m going to make ‘em-  I guess I’m good at ignoring facts or ignorance is bliss- whichever it is, I enjoy putting. 
Keep at it- it’s like getting old… it’s better than the alternative. 

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Here is what I have done to improve my putting.   First, I took my putting mat (just a 6 x 10 piece of indoor/outdoor from the home store-- but it rolls pretty true and is about 9 or 10 stimp speed) out to my driveway.  I have a digital level (about $25 on Amazon), so I can practice 2 degrees slope and 3 degrees slope.   I found the fall line, and then just rotated the carpet around the "Clock" and got good reads for each clock position at 2 paces (5 feet) and 3 paces (7.5 feet)-- reads I trust and feel confident in.    Eventually I added 4 paces and 5 paces by doing pretty much the same drill on the practice green at my club.   So now when I have a putt, I get the fall line (I plum-bob), then find the clock position that is the closest to where I am putting from (1:00, 2:00, etc), then check my small cheat sheet that gives me the read and the approx speed.   I started with plumb-bobbing all the putts when I practiced and then figured out  how much-- if any-- the real read is different from what I plum-bob.    I have gotten pretty good at the range from 3 ft to 10 feet-- and the paradigm hold mostly out to as far as you want to go.   for example, if you plum-bob on 4 degrees of slope vs.  2 or 3 degrees, you will get a different read.  It is very similar to what the aim-point system does.   I have just adapted it to my own system.      I am still learning how to adjust to steeper greens (my course has some 4+ slopes).   I pretty much just figure out the down-hill or up-hill roll-out and then try to adapt and visualize the putt -- very defensively if down-hill. 

Anyway, with this system which honestly did not take that long to get readings on,  I have had a few rounds with no 3 putts.   I had a 9 hole round with 11 putts a couple of weeks ago -- 2, 2-putts and 7 1-putts totaling more than 70 feet.    

I just feel like I have sort of de-mystified  putting.   I used to sort of feel the read and the speed.  I have a pretty good stroke.   But I never seemed to make a lot of putts.   I figured based on stats (like some others have mentioned), that the best return is to focus on 3 - 10 feet, maybe out to 15.   Beyond that, it's great if you make a few, but honestly the pros make 20% or less.    I will say that having pretty good reads out to about 15 feet has had a positive effect on my lag putts as well.   You can look at it as, "here is where I need to be 10 feet out, and here is what it needs to do from there on to get close".    

One more thing-- though it might be obvious:   6:00 putts and 12:00 putts are straight.    7:00/5:00 are within the hole... edge... or only a ball outside.   so that leaves measuring 4:00, 3:00, 2:00 and 1:00-- because the other side are mirror images.     I really just used trial-and-error till I got a read and speed I found worked.    

Good luck on you quest to improve your putting.   

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If you just want the ball to go in the hole, you're not going to make it happen.  The only thing you can do, the ONLY thing, is hit the ball whete you want it.  Line it up and make the stroke you want. The result will happen on its own. Try to really and truly forget about the result and just focus on did you hit the putt where you wanted.  If the answer is yes, give yourself a fist pump.  If you don't then try to hit it where you want next time. 

Now if you're looking for how to make yourself feel better you need to go watch the YouTube video on the power positions of confidence. Your body can actually influence your mind.  I've tried it and it works.  Sounds crazy but it does. It's in a ted talk given by a woman.  

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WOW!!!!  There are a lot of...processes here.  I get it, everybody has found something that works for them.  Probably the best advice here is to get out of your own head.  The second best item I read was, ignore the hole and develop confidence in your stroke and feel.  Not knowing what conditions you play in or what your stroke looks like mean no one will really be able to give you any solid advice on how to fix your putting game.  Get with a pro for some lessons, be prepared to change what you think is working; because it obviously isn't or you wouldn't have opened this thread.  It is easy for all of us to tell each other not to have negative thoughts; that we need to think positive, project positive auras, fangs shway your way to a more positive vibe with the spirit world and all of that, but telling each other to think positive is like a guy who lives in Alaska telling a guy who lives in Florida that 55 degree wind is warm and he should just not think he is cold in 55 degrees; easy for the guy who lives in 20 degree weather, not so realistic for the guy who comes from 90 degrees.   

I don't read greens so much as I "feel" them.  I have a couple of drills that I like, and there are days where everything feels right on the practice green, but nothing feels right on the course; RARELY is my putting issue caused by a difference between the practice green and the course, it something I am doing with my stroke; TYPICALLY, it is my grip.  TYPICALLY I am gripping too tight and I cannot get fluid; alternatively, I might have the ball back, or away from me an inch or so, and that throws contact and line off.  I can show up at a new course and run through my drills for 30 minutes or so and I am typically able to consistently keep my putts from being outside tap in range unless I really miss a read or grain comes into play that I missed.  If I am missing my lines or making bad contact, I go back to the basics and check my set up; if set up is good I do target drills through sets of tees at farther and farther distances.  If that is all working then I trust myself on the course.  If I miss one out there, I don't start changing things, I go back to basics and I trust myself.  But that is what works for me.  Until we know what you are actually doing no one can really tell you what is going to help you trust your stroke on the course.

The discussion of disparity between practice greens and course greens is bupkis, IN MY OPINION (I capitalize that so everyone sees that I am owning it as MY Opinion and not asserting it as concrete, scientifically proven fact).  IMO, if you can putt off season on a mat and benefit on the green as the season opens, then it doesn't matter if the practice green is an 8 and the course is a 14; that's like saying that the reason your distances are off on the course is because you hit range balls on the range before teeing off.  Malarkey! I say.  Putting on the practice green should give you an idea for the course, but it is all about warming up and getting comfortable with your stroke that day, just like a warm up on the range.  Unless the practice green has no grain and the course has serious grain you still get a feel for your stroke and for the course.  Grain is the one thing I see people struggle with that they cannot overcome without being on a course with grain.  When a players is not used to playing greens that have a grain (like up here in the PNW) and then they show up to play courses that have grain in the greens, their game goes to he11 in an instant as does their trust in their putting; because they have no idea what it feels like to have the same 3 foot put on a flat spot go 2 feet past the hole in one direction and stop 2 feet short in the other.  No amount of putting on a mat to your local practice green will prepare you for grain unless your local practice green has grain to it. 

So, what do you do?  Work with someone who can see what you are doing and develop that confidence through practice and results; not by counting "reasonable putts that could/should have dropped" and believing that you are better than the evidence says you are. Best of luck.

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Another second for @chisag's comments about replacing negative thoughts and just sticking to the process. As golfers, or maybe as humans, we are so focused on results, but golf is actually about the process. Trust to the process.

Also, if you like to read, check out Bob Rotella's 'Putting Out of Your Mind'

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At what distances do the demons take over?  We all have a certain distance that is our weakest and it can play havoc on the six inches between our ears.  I am a great long distance putter, but some of the shorter distances I am weaker and need to practice, practice, practice.  Which is another weakness for me.  I am retired and just do not spend enough time on the range and practice greens.    

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What do you define as bad putting? Played to vanilla perfection hitting 100% GIR leads to even par with 36 putts. If you are 36 putts or under per round, give yourself some slack. So many players put pressure on their short game because putts inside 10 feet seem like they should be easier but the added pressure to make a putt to save par or make a birdie to make up for a previous bogey makes them even harder. Set 36 or under as a putting goal for a month and see if you attitude changes. I'm a 9 HDCP and average 29 putts per round. Obvious with "7 under" on putts I'm dropping shots elsewhere putt I know the pressure and frustration on days the putts aren't dropping. If I end round with 34-35 putts it's still the other shots failing me and often putting me in positions on the green where making 1 putts is not a reasonable expectation.

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