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Pressure Putts for Birdie


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I'm playing at a 22.5 handicap index. But I hope that index will be taking a drastic nose dive very soon. I just got done with a 10-round lesson package via GolfTEC and my latest golf score looks much better.

On my last round of golf, I had 6 putts for birdie. Which, for me, is quite impressive. I didn't make any of those putts, unfortunately. (On four of them I 2-putted and saved par, on the other two I 3-putted for bogie) My concern is that while I want to sink more birdie putts, I don't wish to fall behind pace either. I dislike having the foursome of golfers behind us breathing down my neck -- which adds even more stress to an already stressful situation.

So here is my question.... what do you do differently if you have a putt for birdie? Do you spend an extra amount of time examining and reading the green? Do you take extra practice strokes? How much extra time is warranted?
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unfortunatly its not the time on the green but it's the number of rounds of golf you can get in PLUS the lessons and practice. You can learn the swing on the range or your stroke on the practice green but nothing replaces playing to actually "learn" how to play golf. For me it's 2 rounds a week, plus about 200 practice balls spread out over the week. Maybe others have different "comfort levels". If I go 2 weeks without playing my long game is normal but my depth perception and feel is a trainwreak.
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6 biridies chances is relatively impressive. As for the putt, spend as much time as the putt requires as per usual. It doesn't really matter that it is for birdie.
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6 biridies chances is relatively impressive. As for the putt, spend as much time as the putt requires as per usual. It doesn't really matter that it is for birdie.

+1. This is where a consistant routine really pays off. Takes the pressure off and helps you focus on the putt as it is and not what the result may be.

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I think your mental approach to putting, specifically birdie putts, is slightly amiss. Obviously you want to sink a birdie putt, but when you think about it, every putt is equally important. They all count for 1 stroke. Is a double bogey putt less important than an eagle putt? Not in my mind. I really want to sink them all. So, don't put extra pressure on yourself, that won't help you accomplish your goal. Its well known that anxiety and tension don't produce good outcomes on the putting green.

I've recently re-read Stan Utley's 'The Art of Putting' and Dave Stockton's 'Putt to win'. They both prescribe a similar approach to putting, which is to immerse yourself in the process of putting but not the outcome. Stockton in particular advocates your measure of success should be your assessment of how well you stroked the putt, not whether it went in.

I bought into this philosophy when Stockton went on to describe an experiment where they mechanically rolled putts on a green with the perfect line at the perfect speed. The process yielded 17 out of 20 sank putts (I don't remember the exact number, but it wasn't 100%). He went on to say that imperfections in the green, how the cup was cut, humidity, wind, etc. all play into whether the ball goes in the hole. This made me realize that there is an element of chance in putting and I needed to be less focused on the outcome.

So, now when I'm standing over a 'pressure putt', I'm only thinking about sticking to my routine and making a good stroke.

I recommend you read these two books because they have great advice on how to approach putting. Take from the books what best suits your game.
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...Stockton went on to describe an experiment where they mechanically rolled putts on a green with the perfect line at the perfect speed. The process yielded 17 out of 20 sank putts (I don't remember the exact number, but it wasn't 100%). He went on to say that imperfections in the green, how the cup was cut, humidity, wind, etc. all play into whether the ball goes in the hole...

VERRRRRRY interesting!! Come to think of it, 70% of the holes on this particular course must have been cut by the same idiot. Most greens had a "volcano" around the cup, which changed the direction of the ball in motion by as much as 3 inches. I'm not sure what causes that, because I have personally never cut a new hole location in a green before. Thanks for the information.
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Same pre-putt routine every time. If the course is backed up..be very efficient in between shots, but always stick to your pre shot routine on every shot. A pre shot routine for a putt shouldn't take more than 20-30 seconds. You should make your read while others are putting/chipping whenever possible.
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Well let me ask you this.. how were you missing them..

Low side of the hole? Blowing it past a few feet, leaving them short by alot? Pulling them left, pushing them right?

Because if you three putted them, then you are definetly having issues with distance control, and if you are consistantly long or short you can work on that.

But putting routine helps, but go out to the putting green and practice from every distance possible.
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So here is my question.... what do you do differently if you have a putt for birdie? Do you spend an extra amount of time examining and reading the green? Do you take extra practice strokes? How much extra time is warranted?

Why take any more time or treat them any different? A stroke is a stroke no matter what it's for (unless it's a match play situation).

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I'm playing at a 22.5 handicap index. But I hope that index will be taking a drastic nose dive very soon. I just got done with a 10-round lesson package via GolfTEC and my latest golf score looks much better.

First off, congrats. It's great to see all your hard work is paying off. I don't know what others do, but when I take too much time reading a putt (doesn't matter if it's a birdie, bogie or otherwise), I end up second guessing my line and speed resulting in this herky-jerky stroke. At that point, I can pretty much guarantee that the ball is not going anywhere near the hole, much less into it.

What you have to remember is that based on your handicap (22.5), you're a bogie player for 14 holes and a double-bogie player on the other 4 hardest holes. So, during your last round, for 6 holes, you played them +2. To me, that's a massive improvement. The point of this is just to say that you will be seeing more birdie opportunities in the future. IMO, at the end of the day, whatever that putt is for, it's just another stroke. Develop a pre-shot routine for all your shots and stick with it. From there, trust your stroke.
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I think your mental approach to putting, specifically birdie putts, is slightly amiss. Obviously you want to sink a birdie putt, but when you think about it, every putt is equally important. They all count for 1 stroke. Is a double bogey putt less important than an eagle putt? Not in my mind. I really want to sink them all. So, don't put extra pressure on yourself, that won't help you accomplish your goal. Its well known that anxiety and tension don't produce good outcomes on the putting green.

This philosophy has extended my knee knocker range from 3 feet to 4 feet and some days a few 5 footers. I just try to start the ball on line with a good stroke. I know if I made a poor stroke or if I misread the putt.

To the OP's original question, There are times when I would like to take a little extra time to read the putt(or any other shot), but will move to keep the pace of play going. There are also times when I totally skip my pre-shot routine for the sake of moving. It's sometimes a little tough to take your time if you play on congested muni courses.
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I'll just chime in with how I personally approach it: all putts are equally important and thus I don't spend extra time on a putt simply because of the type of putt (i.e., for birdie, par or bogie).

The only determining factor for how long I spend reading the putt is the difficulty in assessing the line. I'm a fairly fast player, especially on the green. I bend at the knees for about 1 second, read it, line it up, take a few practice swings and putt. It all takes about 15 seconds, and most of it (pre-address) is done while the other players are putting (provided that I'm out of their view so as to not distract them).

However, there were times yesterday where I had no idea which way it was breaking, so I probably doubled up my time reading it. I figure if I only do that a few times a round it's acceptable. Some people do this every single hole, which personally annoys me. But to each their own?

Brandon
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All the same as usual. It goes in or it doesn't. As for pressure, i tend to feel less pressure over a birdie putt. Because if i miss, i don't lose anything. The 4 or 5 footers for par are the really tough ones, sometimes.
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The last thing that you should be thinking is "this is for birdie." Just worry about line and speed, and those birdie putts will start dropping. Once they start dropping then any anxiety associated with future birdie putts will go away, and you'll make even more of them.

But I hear ya, it's tough to get over that initial hump of not overthinking those putts. I tend to leave them short when I do that.
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thats were a routine comes in... Most of the time the pressure about a birdie putt comes from waiting for your turn. But once i stand behind the ball and concentrat souly on the break and speed, picking my mark, ect.. All that goes away. All i do is line up my putter, take my stance, give on quick look and then let it rip, no time to think about birdie, bogey, par, triple, ect..
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One practice routine I do with the putting is to find a bare bit of carpet in the house, if not a flat putting green and hit maybe 20-50 putts using the pattern on the carpet to unsure perfect alignment. Provided the carpet is bare enough and flat enough to act like a putting surface and yielding uniform results, you can get an idea about where your misses are relative to your own stroke rather than external conditions. Doing the above I can usually hit my target 8 feet away 9 out of 10 times and that is the number you should aim to get.

Then you can step up to the putt on the course and although there will be still many factors to consider the accuracy of your stroke will not be one of them.
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Note: This thread is 3881 days old. We appreciate that you found this thread instead of starting a new one, but if you plan to post here please make sure it's still relevant. If not, please start a new topic. Thank you!

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