You think you can do it. You know what to do. You know how to do it. Yet so often you just cannot accomplish what should be routine and simple.
In the Kailash Tea Open earlier this month, I had more birdies and eagles than I have ever had before in a tournament. The sum total was a remarkable 26 birdies and two eagles in the four days we played. This is quite an achievement even at the top of the golfing curve, if I may say so myself. Without making lots of putts I could never have achieved this.
In a recent column I complained about my putting during the Surya Masters in early December. I took that as a challenge to improve and worked diligently for the past month. The results are quite apparent.
During last week's event I was able to make quite a number of putts from inside 15 feet, something I was unable to do under pressure these past months. Yes, I still did have occasional three putts on a few greens, but overall, I was way above my usual average.
So what sparked off this sudden improvement?
After the Surya Nepal Masters, one of the first things I did was analyse and understand where I had gone wrong. This is a common practice all pros use to improve their game. I went through all my statistics of putting (I usually record my putting stats after each full round I play).
I realised I was very uncomfortable putting from inside six feet, and this is where I was vulnerable. The result of this was that I was not giving myself a chance on sinking longer putts, as I would concentrate on just putting it close.
By being scared of leaving myself 4-6 footers. I was mentally just playing for two putts from outside 10 feet without giving the ball a chance to go into the hole. In other words, I was literally choking on these longer putts.
In putting, you need to have the right basics, and also the right attitude on the greens in order to drop putts. More than anything it is all about having the confidence and the willpower to sink it. Right before making the putting stroke a lot of unwanted nervousness creeps into the mind. The result? A hesitant stroke and a miss.
I am not discarding the need of choosing the right line, the right pace and knowledge of the contours and slopes on the green. All these are equally important. However in professional golf it is more the 'mind' anything else.
Now, let me explain the details of the little success i have achieved in improving my putting. I practiced a lot of putts from six feet and tried to be more positive. This helped me considerably as I gained confidence to stroke the longer ones without fear. Honestly, I haven't tried to change any of the mechanics. I just tried to be more positive, and with repeated practice, this habit was ingrained. The result was a better stroke on the ball.
Be more positive while you practice your putts or when you are playing the course. Undoubtedly, you will see encouraging results. Use this knowledge to your advantage in the run up to the New Years Cup 2005 being held at Gokarna Forest Golf Resort on 22 January. Be a winner and you'll soon be taking a golfing holiday for two to Malaysia!
Catch highlights of the Surya Nepal Masters being shown on Ten Sports on Friday ,14 January at 1:45pm and on Saturday at 6:45pm.
Deepak Acharya is a golf instructor and Head Golf Professional at Gokarna Forest Golf Resort & Spa, Kathmandu. firstname.lastname@example.org