Welcome back! This week’s blog will talk about how I prepared for my putting and whether or not it held up under pressure.
Tester of the mental training plan #2: The first short putt of the day
After a decent chip I am left with my first putt of the day. It is a slippery left to right breaker about 4 feet in distance. The first putt… the one where I don’t know if my hands will stay steady or not and if I can make a smooth putting stroke. I have been struggling with this part of my game for a while now, but really worked the past week on visualizing a smooth putting stroke. I had also watched many YouTube videos of great putting tempos and then visualized myself with those same tempos. I imagined my tempo that I wanted to hit the putt with and the feel of the putter head after the putt. This again going back to an external focus. I also visualized myself feeling confident on the greens and looking forward to putting. Seeing each putt as an opportunity rather than something to fear. I prepared for multiple different scenarios such as putting for birdie, or to save par, from 3 feet of from 10 feet, but no matter what the putt, I treated them all with the same intention and focus.
As I walk up onto the green on that first hole, some doubts started to creep into my head about how my putting will be today and if my hands will stay steady. I was prepared for these thoughts and just acknowledged them, but reminded myself that just because those thoughts came, it doesn’t mean that they are true. I then refocused on something I could control like my pre-putt routine. I prefer to visualize the putt and I don’t actually take any practice putting strokes. I found when I used to take practice putting strokes I would start to think too technical. So I start to go through my routine: I step up to address the putt, get lined up, one look at the hole, back to the ball, and putt. I made a smooth putting stroke and rolled the putt right in! My hands stayed steady the whole putt which was huge for me and I gave myself a quiet, inner cheer!
I carried on and was still a bit stiff on the next few holes due to my lack of a warm-up and made a few sloppy bogeys. However, I was not phased by these and just kept plugging away. I stayed very calm for the round and stuck to my game plan that I had been visualizing for the past week. I really started to find some momentum on the back 9 rolling in two back to back birdie putts and striking my irons very well. My putting continued to stay consistent and smooth. I actually finished the back 9 at Colwood 2-under par! A few other people had great rounds that day and so I was about 6 shots off the lead.
Check back next week to see how the second round of the tournament went; especially as the pressure started to grow coming down the finishing stretch!