Do these seem like some of the thoughts you have when you are over the ball? I need this putt to save par. I have already three putted twice today. If I two putt, I can finally break 80. My partners will think I stink if I can’t make this three-footer. I hope I take the putter back straight. I hope I make it. This line does not look right to me.
This is your conscious mind interfering with your stroke. None of these thoughts will help you putt better. Putting to a beat will keep your conscious mind occupied and let you make an athletic stroke.
I always count when I putt. I count to 5. The count is as follows:
1) I put my putter next to the ball
2) I look at the hole
3) I look at the ball
4) I make my backswing
5) I make contact
Buy yourself a metronome and find a beat that you like. Start the metronome at 72 beats per minute and see if it fits your internal rhythm. If you are a faster paced person, increase the beats per minute and if you are a slower paced person, decrease it. Once you find your personal beat, stick to it and simply count when you putt.
This applies to all length putts. The rhythm is always the same. Your stroke will be shorter for short putts and longer for long putts. Putting to the beat will free your mind up to perform. All golfers experience pressure when they play. A routine allows golfers to perform even when they experience extreme pressure.
I had a downhill-sidehill 4 foot putt for par on the 11th hole at Pebble Beach in the 1992 U.S. Open. The greens were so fast that if the putt missed, I was going to face a 45 foot come-backer from the front fringe. In short, the pressure was on as I was fighting to make the 36 hole cut. As I got over the putt, my conscious mind started to think about the consequences. I backed off the putt and committed to count to the beat. I nailed the putt right in the center of the cup. I was also willing to live with the consequences if I missed as long as I was committed to the routine.
Find your beat and enjoy some great putting experiences.