More Confidence Over Short Putts

Powerful Mental Game Strategies For More Confidence Over Short Putts

Do you find yourself throwing away strokes by missing too many short putts. In this article we’ll take a look at some strategies for more confidence over short putts.

Strategy #1 For More Confidence Over Short Putts

Replace your stressful thoughts with positive phrases

Why do you feel more tense over short putts?

It mostly boils down to the fact that you are putting some mental and emotional pressure on yourself to make these short putts.

This pressure usually comes in the form of a fearful thought.

Note : These may be partly unconscious before you actively try to identify them.

Some examples of typical fear generating thoughts.

  • I should not miss these short putts.
  • I don’t want to look like a fool and miss such a short putt.
  • I need this to make par.
  • I hate three putting , don’t miss this.
  • I don’t want to let down my playing partner.
  • This is for birdie, don’t waste this great opportunity.

The biggest reason for your tension is all these pesky little thoughts and fears in your head.

Here is a simple way to manage your tension creating thoughts…

  1. Make a list of your top 5 tension creating thoughts over short putts
  2. Now create another list of 5 counter thoughts or rebuttals

These positive replacement thoughts will act to effectively counter the negative thoughts. Reducing your inner tension.

Here are a few examples so you can get the general idea of how it works:

  • Tension creating thought:
  • “I should not miss short putts.”
  • Positive replacement thought:
  • “Not even the best putters in the world make all their putts. I will just relax and do my best to prepare myself well for this putt.”
  • Tension creating thought:
  • “My partners will think I am a choker?”
  • Positive replacement thought:
  • “The other players don’t care about my game. I am choosing to focus on my line.”
  • Tension creating thought:
  • “This is for birdie, don’t mess it up.”
  • Positive replacement thought:
  • “It’s just another putt and I will focus on what will help me putt to my best ability. Focus on my target and trust my stroke.”

Now its your turn to create some positive thoughts of your own that match your particular stress creating thoughts.

You are preparing yourself for the next time your feel tense over a short putt. You will have some simple “go-to” phrases to use that can really help you relax and stay with the task at hand. Sinking your putt…

Write them out on a postcard and read them before your next two rounds of golf.

Strategy #2 For More Confidence Over Short Putts

  • Understand what you can and can’t control.
  • You do control what you do up to playing your shot
  • You don’t control what happens once the ball has been hit.
  • You do control how you decide to react to the outcome.
  • You actually don’t have any control of what happens once you have hit your putt. Many outside factors can make your best putt miss. Grain of the grass, wind, unseen bumps and pitch marks lumpy doughnut around the green etc.

What if you decided to let go of the idea that you SHOULD be able to make all your short putts?

The reality is that you WON’T and neither do the best players in the world.

Let it be ok if you miss in competition. The fear of missing causes the tension which makes you miss more. Pre accept that you will be ok if you miss. This is a trick of the mind.  Absolutely intend and feel as though you will make each putt in your pre putt routineand putting stroke. But at the same time pre-accept and understand that it may miss because you don’t fully control the outcome. Use these simple mental game techniques and you’ll quickly gain more confidence over your short putts.

Photo by Tim Evanson

Free Mental Game of Putting Course


Mark Walker

is a mental game coach of professional and elite amateur golfers. He lives in Paris, France. He also specializes in clearing performance blocks and yips. He loves helping golfers play to their full potential by integrating the mental physical and emotional aspects of their golf game.

This Post Has 10 Comments

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    Jim Coene

    Great tips. I like the idea. I was also working on an NLP program yesterday teaching about affirmations & goal setting It pointed out that affirmations with “I” in them can cause some cognitive dissidence due to a lack of congruence. So if I say “I am focus on my stroke completely”, while part of me is is nervous, the affirmation may not be as effective as it could be. Also the unconscious likes process type affirmations (word ending in ____ing). So a better thought might be just “focusing on a smooth stroke”
    What do you think?

  2. Avatar photo
    Mark Walker

    Hi Jim, Thanks for your comments. I really agree with your suggestion of using in action wording like “focusing on a smooth stroke” especially while we in the process of putting.
    I also like your suggestion to avoid using “I” in the statements to avoid any internal disturbance from lack of congruence to the positive statement.
    So if we say “I am feeling relaxed and confident” when in fact we are feeling nervous our system does not like the contradiction between the two.
    This creates more tension and distraction in our system which is not helpful.
    I guess we each need to try out these statements and go with once that actually feel good to us when we use them.
    Thanks a lot for this helpful comment

  3. blank

    Love this! THese are almost all the exact thoughts that go through my mind when taking short putts. I will out these positive thinking strategies next time 🙂

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      Mark Walker

      Glad you like it. I think many golfers have these types of thoughts while putting. Me included.

  4. blank

    Thank you

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    Thorwald "Tommy" Jensen

    Hallo Mark,
    help, I’m really struggling to keep my head/body still and eye on the ball. I feel, I’m loosing sight of the ball, when taking the club back, be it the driver, iron or putter.
    My anxiety is so much, as to where the ball finishes away from the target. I’m very tense, and seem to play a bad shot, before I hit it.
    How can I get more positive and relaxed on the course, I’m on the range.??
    I’m 71, German, lived since 1966 in The UK, love the game, I’m just too old to give it up…..

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      Mark Walker

      Hi Tommy,
      Thanks for your response and question.
      There are quite a few ways I could answer this but one way to be more relaxed about where the ball goes is to decide before hand that you will accept yourself and the shot before you play it. Perhaps easier said than done.
      Your anxiety about where the ball finishes is perhaps worth exploring why are you so worried about it. Often the reasons are rooted in fear of failure and the roots of that can be complex but often relate to social approval or self approval and perfectionistic thinking. What you can do is try to identify any unhelpful thoughts about what it means to you if you miss your target. Like “Its really not ok for me to miss me target and create some alternative thoughts like “I am doing my best and I will focus on my target and be ok with whatever happens” Hope this is helpful. Mark

  6. Pingback: confidence-over-short-putts – Golf State of Mind | My Website

  7. blank

    Thanks Mark for those wonderful strategies. You know it is not easy for me to overpower my fear. I can very easily relate with this post! I have always thought that missing a short putt projects you as a stupid golfer. And in fact the truth is that you will certainly miss each and every short if it comes out with shivering hands and confused mind. Fear has that effect! Anyways thanks for sharing, I am sure this will be a great help 🙂

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      Mark Walker

      Hi Andrea,
      Thanks for your feedback and comments. Yes I also used to resonate with the “I must be a stupid golfer to miss shorts putts”.

      Feel free to let me know how you get on with reframing your fearful thoughts.
      Best regards Mark

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