Lay It on the Line
It’s all about how you start on pressure putts
Putting under pressure can be a grind mentally. Like most golfers, I find that the more I focus on what the putt means for my score, the harder it becomes. That’s why I like to set my attention on something small, like the first six to eight inches of the putt.
Generally, every putt is a straight putt within the first foot. Instead of trying to focus all my energy on holing an eight-footer to win my match, I make it my job to hit a straight putt for those first six to eight inches. This way, the ball starts on my intended line and rolls true. Provided I read the putt correctly and hit the ball with the proper speed, it should take the break and find the bottom of the cup.
The next time you have a five-footer to break 80 for the first time, think about nailing the first six to eight inches of the putt and nothing more. To practice your start lines, find a relatively straight putt on the practice green, determine your line, and focus on a spot six to eight inches along the chosen track that the ball has to pass over. Then set up two tees slightly wider than the width of the ball at that spot and putt the ball through the gate. Do this several times, then find a putt that breaks slightly from left to right, then right to left, and repeat.
The more consistently you hit your start lines, the steadier and more clutch you’ll perform under pressure. —With Keely Levins