The Imaginary Putt is a favorite exercise Dr. Jackie Odom, Ph.D. and I have conducted during our Positive Golfer classes and seminars. Try it and see how you do:
Close your eyes and imagine a 12-foot putt. The putt is a downhill left-to-right breaker and the greens are fairly fast, but manageable. You get a good look at the putt and take your stance. You give it the eye one more time. You take the putter back and strike the ball. It is rolling…… OK, open your eyes.
If you are like approximately 70% of our students, or others we try this on, you missed the putt. It could have missed a variety of ways: just short, rimmed the cup, blasted past, stubbed the putter, hung on the edge of the hole, etc.
The point is, IT IS YOUR IMAGINATION…….you can do anything you want to.
If you are missing imaginary putts, what then, are you doing with the real deal?
You have probably heard that golf is 10% talent, 10% hard work, and 80% mental – or some other related message. While those percentages may be off depending upon which studies you read, there is no doubt that once you have worked hard to learn a repeating, functioning swing, the only element remaining is your mental strength. That is where the percentage chart is skewed in favor of the mental game. Obviously a beginner cannot shoot 80 armed with only a positive mental attitude but it will help and they’ll improve faster than a novice with bad thoughts.
The courses are full of great players with marvelous swings. The problem is, they can’t play up to their potential when the bell rings and the tournament is on due to the mental demons clouding their brains.
The next time you play, take note of your playing partners’ comments about what they expect to do. If they ‘always’ hit the pond on this hole, or ‘always’ hit their drive in the bunker on that hole, or ‘always’ have at least 4 or 5 bad holes, think about what their expectations do to create self-fulfilling prophecies.
But please, don’t follow their lead.
Make your prophecies positive ones: focus on where you want the ball to go. Your brain doesn’t translate ‘don’t’ as in ‘Don’t hit it in the water’. It only hears ‘…..the water’ and makes immediate plans to allow your body’s movements to help you visit there. Think instead ‘hit it left center fairway’ or ‘middle of the green’ or ‘in the cup’ as you may have read in my article, ‘How To Get A Hole in One’. When it comes to putting, remember that the ball always has to end up somewhere. Why not in the hole? Sometimes when I am standing over a long putt and announce my intentions to can it, people are a bit skeptical. When I tell them I’m focusing my brain on the task at hand and that, quite often, I do make putts, you can instantly see the shift in their thinking.
Your imagination is a wonderful invention. Use it properly. And by the way, I always sink my imaginary putt.