Jim Suttie

Keys to putting under pressure

Keys to putting under pressure

NAPLES — Why is it that you can make 40 putts in a row from four feet and not even hit the hole when the pressure is on? There are probably a lot of reasons for this, but the main one is excessive tension.

The putting stroke is different from the rest of the game. There is no centrifugal force being produced. This makes the putting stroke become a “feel” thing.

When I look at people putting, it is very easy for me to determine the good putters from the average putters. The good putters look comfortable at address, whereas the poor putter looks like they are tied up in a knot.

In my opinion, we have made putting “too mechanical.” For example, when you are thinking four inches back and four inches through, I think you are in trouble. The best thing I can tell you here is to turn off the brain so you can play the game. To be a good pressure putter, you have to be tension-free and don’t really care if you make it or not. Don’t try to control the putter or else it will control you.

Lee Trevino said he became a good putter after he decided not to care if he made it or not. Believe it or not, some of us care too much about making the putt. Put trust in your athletic instincts and see what happens. For example, if you were throwing horseshoes, would you be trying to think how far back your arm went? Of course not.

Some tips on becoming a better pressure putter are:

■ Relax your grip and try to get comfortable at address;

■ Don’t try to make a perfect stroke;

■ Don’t focus on the hole so much. Just try to hit it solid and focus on the speed and tempo of the stroke;

■ Trust your stroke,

■ Don’t try so hard to make the putt;

■ Putt for a water bottle above the hole. This takes your mind off the hole.

To become a good pressure putter, take the pressure off. For example, there are probably 300 million people who don’t care if you make that putt or not. Just do your best and that is all you can do.

Take the tension out and watch the putts fall.