You study the break from every angle. You set up meticulously, make a nice, smooth stroke and start the ball right on line. It's looking good, looking real good, but comes up one revolution short.
Don't get 'line crazy.' You'll forget to hit the putt.
Of course, this happens all the time, but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow—probably tougher. What can you learn? Well, you either tried to wish it in and made a wimpy stroke, or you got "line crazy" and forgot about speed. Maybe you were afraid of leaving a comebacker. Whatever the case, you feel like snapping your putter in half. (Don't.)
Next time, try to manage your nervous energy. After you've picked the line and set the putter behind the ball, focus on hitting a solid putt. Think of striking an imaginary tack stuck in the back of the ball. And don't exaggerate the follow-through--that can actually cause deceleration. Instead, make a positive strike with a short finish and hold it for a second. The ball will roll truer, and you'll have a better chance of knocking it in.
Jim McLean is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.