Likely, you’ve had at least one moment in your golf career when you’ve made a clutch putt in a big moment, whether it was a putt for a lot of money, to win a tournament, or shoot a career low round. It’s a great feeling. I am by no means an expert on converting in these types of clutch scenarios, but I like to think I know how to take the best approach that will give myself the best chance to make a clutch putt.
First, let’s get one thing straight: if you’re normally a bad putter, it’s extremely unlikely that you’re going to suddenly be a great putter in clutch situations. This blog post is not for you. Go spend some time on the putting green, work with your local pro, and when you can honestly say you’re a respectable putter, then come back to this.
In my mind, being a great putter in pressure situations is all about attitude and state of mind. If you step into a big putt thinking “Holy shit, this putt is for $500,” or “If I miss this, we lose the match,” then there’s an extremely high probability that your nerves will get the best of you and you will have next to zero chance of making the putt. Instead, you need to flip the script in your mind. You need to relish the opportunity to rise to the occasion and be the envy of your buddies by making that putt. Before stepping into the putt, flash forward to the future, visualize and feel the sensation of having made that putt. Think, “Won’t this be awesome when I make this putt? I can’t wait to bury it! I was born for this!”
Not to get too Zen here, but I’m a firm believer in the Law of Attraction. It states that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, you can bring positive or negative experiences into your life. It’s based on the belief that people and their thoughts are made from pure energy, and through the process of attracting like energy, a person can improve any situation in their life by replacing negative thoughts with more empowered, positive thoughts. To effectively change your negative thinking patterns, you must feel and visualize that the desired outcomes have already occurred. These positive thoughts and emotions will resonate with other positive energy and attract positive experiences and outcomes.
So, back to making that clutch putt – if you can replace thoughts of fear, negativity, concern about the mechanics of your putting stroke, etc. with positive feelings and the visualization of how great it will feel to have made that putt, there is a much better chance that you’ll be overcome with confidence stepping into that putt, and hopefully lead to you plucking it out of the hole for a big win and high-fives from your partners.