Six Steps to Unconscious Putting with Golf
Psychology Have you forgotten how good a putter you are? Well, the older they get, the more golfers tend to forget how easy putting really is. They also forget how good they used to putt when they were younger and more carefree. You often hear the golf pundits on television talking about how some or other up and coming young professional hasn't yet learned how difficult putting really is.
They sometimes go on to talk about how the accumulation of years of missed putts slowly frazzles the nerves and undermines the confidence of the older and more experienced golfers. Maybe that's how they justify their own inability to maintain their competitiveness on the tour. It's small wonder that they're now commentating rather than playing.
So is their any truth in this? Well yes there is and the good news is that for most golfers it's all in the mind and that's where golf psychology can help. However, it's not a good idea to tell anyone that it's "all in the mind" after they've just missed a putt! As with the Yips, there are a very small number of people who may be afflicted by some sort of neurological problem, but it's unlikely to have been caused by missing putts.
So, assuming your putting stroke doesn't change, it's likely that you still have the ability to putt just as well as you ever did - if not better. And you can do it using the power of your unconscious mind.
Take the example of a young tournament professional who was having serious problems with his putting. He'd been struggling to put a good score together despite often hitting 15 greens in regulation in a round. It wasn't his putting stroke, because he'd already spent a lot of time working with his putting coach and everything was looking good there. So what was it? Well, he seemed to have forgotten how good a putter he really was and that was putting more and more psychological pressure on his game.
After some time working on a very undulating putting green at a local club and experimenting with a variety of techniques, he settled on the Six Steps to Unconscious Putting. He was uncomfortable at first, but after about 45 minutes following the routine, he suddenly seemed to relax. He then smiled sheepishly as he said something quietly to himself. I'm not sure what the exact words were, but it was the cheeky nickname he'd been given by his friends at college. That was when he kept holing putts as they played for candy bars and sodas on the college putting green.
That way, he remembered how good a putter he was and the following week, he went out and won his first pay cheque as a professional. He putted rather well, I'm told!
Six Steps to Unconscious Putting
Unusually for me, there are no instructions here about using any formal self hypnosis techniquebefore following these six steps of unconscious putting. That's because you'll be using this self hypnosis technique as you transition from the conscious process of planning your putt in your pre-shot routine to the, hopefully, unconscious process of stroking the putt in your shot routine. However, it won't hurt to use a brief hypnosis technique, if you're familiar with one. Alternatively, just take a couple of slow, deep breaths at this point to get into just the right state of mind.
When you approach a putt, start following your normal pre-shot routine and doing whatever you would normally do to read and visualise the putt.
If you haven't already marked the ball, then mark it now, clean it and replace it ready to putt. I suggest that you avoid making any particular conscious effort to line up the markings on the ball with the target. If you normally draw a sighting line on your ball, either ignore it or don't do it for now.
Now stand 2-4 yards behind the ball on the line to your target. Face straight at the target, so that both your eyes are seeing the ball and the hole using your binocular vision.
Recall your visualisation of the putt and do your best to imagine the feeling and/or picture of the ball rolling along your expected line before hearing it fall in the hole.
Now, keeping that feeling and/or picture in your mind and, while maintaining your gaze at the ball and the hole, take your stance for a practice swing. Take a couple of practice swings while still looking simultaneously at the ball and hole.
As soon as you feel the practice swing is a good rehearsal for the putt you want to play, move as quickly and smoothly as you can and take up your stance to the ball. Only roughly align yourself to the hole - your unconscious will automatically allow for any misalignment.
Then take one slow look at the hole and as soon as your eyes return to the ball, notice how you automatically and unconsciously start your putter stroke and then stroke the putt. It really is that easy!
So why does this work? Well, the object is to get all the conscious thought and analysis out of the way. Then you can hand over control to your unconscious mind to finally assess the shot and hit the putt. Looking at the hole with both eyes while you get the feel of the putter stroke allows your unconscious mind to take in all the information it needs to deliver the putt that you saw or felt in step 1.
Finally, the faster you can smoothly take your stance, look at the hole and start your swing, the more of that unconscious information you'll retain. It'll also mean that there's less time for the conscious mind to step in and start analysing things again - potentially sowing the seeds of doubt.
Remember that you can use this technique for chips and, with practice, for longer shots as well. It's also a good technique for overcoming the Yips for both putting and chipping.
It's good enough for Darren Clarke to win the Open Championship
Did you watch Darren Clarke winning the Open Championship at Royal St Georges? If you did, then you'll have seen him using a very similar routine to the Six Steps to Unconscious Putting. I have to admit that I was surprised and delighted, because I'd only told a few people about the technique at that time.
Now I'm not suggesting that Darren heard about it from one of my contacts. However, it obviously helped him to overcome some of the "demons" that seemed to be afflicting his putting confidence over the years. The Six Steps and his action of gripping left hand low and then re-gripping right hand low were clearly keeping his conscious mind occupied while he's just trusting his unconscious mind to hit the putts. It certainly seemed to be working for him.
About the Author
Andrew Fogg, the Golf Hypnotist, is an enthusiastic golfer, hypnotherapist and NLP Master Practitioner. He is a golf psychologist and author of a recently published book "The Secrets of Hypnotic Golf" and a series of Golf Hypnosis audio programmes. For more please visit the website: www.golf-hypnotist.com