Begin with the End in Mind
How do you become a great putter?
Is it about ‘thinking positive’ or ‘believing in yourself’?
You might be surprised to hear that I believe those strategies are limited at best.
Let us take a slightly different counterintuitive look at how to be more effective on the short grass. It might seem a very strange place to start and somewhat negative but stay with me on this and let us look for the answers in a slightly different place.
To get started, I want you to think about some putts that you missed recently. Preferably some important putts that meant something to you. Go back to those moments in time, and I want you to tell us how you DEALT with missing those putts.
How did you REACT?
How did you FEEL?
How much of an effect did missing the putts have on you?
How long did the disappointment stay with you?
How much of an emotional reaction did you have?
I remember once hearing a phrase ‘you have to dare to lose to be able to win’ and in those few words I believe is summed up an eternal secret to not just holing putts or playing good golf but for life itself. Michael Jordan is often quoted as saying he was one of the all-time greatest basketball players because he missed more than anyone else. He said:
"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeeded."
Michael Jordan is an example of someone who ‘dared to lose’. It is the same in so many other areas of life; the great salesman is not afraid to lose the deal. Apparently, JK Rowling, one of the best-selling authors of all time had her Harry Potter books turned down time and time again until she got a publishing deal with Bloomsbury. These people all had the ability to DEAL with and MOVE on from undesirable outcomes.
They managed to overcome the FEELINGS of failure and keep going.
We have all been brought up on the idea of ‘positive thinking’ as in telling yourself you are going to make a putt or good things are going to happen.
That is fine to a point and certainly better than being negative, but what happens with all that positivity if you then continue to miss?
To be able to DEAL with a negative outcome is to take away the POWER it has over you.
If you are not afraid to fail, then you are not afraid to win. Just hoping that by thinking positively you can protect yourself from negative outcomes is naive at best. It is not dissimilar to the belief you can build a golf swing that will protect you from the FEELING of bad shots.
To become really great on the greens, you have to build a mechanism in your brain that says, ‘I will DEAL with and move on from whatever the game throws at me.’
This is not resignation or giving up but a willingness to grow and develop mental toughness and resilience.
It takes a shift of mindset to begin at the end, but by doing this, you are setting yourself free to become the best putter that you can possibly be.
Think again about those missed putts I have asked you to relive and go back to one of them again in your mind. Play the action out again in your mind. Go through the missed putt and your past reaction to the outcome, and I want you to ask yourself TWO very simple but important questions:
Did I do all that I could in preparation BEFORE I hit the putt?
And once the putt has missed. Ask the question
Could I let this emotion GO?
Just run through in your mind how the rest of your round that day MAY have been different if you had asked that second question.
How does it now feel to be able to RELEASE that emotion BASED on the fact that you did ALL you could BEFORE you hit the putt?
I am sure virtually all of you reading this felt a sense of CALM about the way you allowed your mind to LET GO of the EMOTIONAL reaction to a negative outcome.
Releasing is a VERY powerful psychological concept not only for holing putts but for life in general as we spend an awful lot of our lives holding on to negative emotions. We make the choice to hang on to negative thoughts and emotions.
It is not that these emotions are wrong or that we should be trying to think of something else, being positive. It is about acknowledging the emotion, noticing it, feeling it and then making the decision to RELEASE it and let it go.
You notice the thoughts as opposed to being attached to the thoughts.
Another way of looking at EMOTION is E-MOTION. It is energy in motion, and it needs to move; it needs to be released.
I will say again if you are able to let go of the emotional reaction to a negative outcome, your brain begins to realize there is nothing to FEAR in missing a putt because you are not going to make yourself FEEL bad as a result of an outcome you can influence, but you cannot CONTROL.
And that is the key here; we need to begin with a mindset that will a) deal with any outcome and b) fully understand whether the putt goes in or not is NOT under our control.
You can hit the perfect putt on the perfect line at the perfect pace, and it won’t definitely go in.
You cannot control the outcome of the putt, but you can make a DECISION on how to react to that putt.
Make that decision now, and your ability to be great on the greens goes up tenfold.
About Karl Morris
Karl Morris has worked with over 100 PGA Tour, European Tour, Challenge Tour, LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour players and has built a reputation as someone who will help you get the best out of the ability you have, no matter what the level.
He has worked with Major Champions, including Louis Oosthuizen, during his 2010 Open Championship victory.
“Working with Karl has been tremendous. He gave me a very clear understanding of how important my routines were on each and every shot. It was BRILLIANT!! The RED DOT worked perfectly. The last round at St Andrews summed up all of the work perfectly”.
Louis Oosthuizen, 2010 Open Champion